Mountville making its mark(s)
New signs part of bicentennial celebration BY DAVID O'CONNOR, Staff Writer
The very first Girl Scout troop in Lancaster County was formed there, a full decade before there was a countywide Scout council.
And Mountville, once called "Mount Pleasant," also has been known for everything from its champion town baseball team to its industries.
On Friday, it added another first.
The borough, which for years had a pair of historic "town marker" signs at each end of town to welcome residents and visitors, became the first community here to replace a marker with a new one.
"This is a perfect way to begin our celebration of 200 years, to have these signs back up," Mountville Mayor Phil Kresge said Friday, speaking to nearly 30 officials and town residents as the first new sign was dedicated along West Main Street.
A pair of old "Keystone Town Marker" signs had stood for years at each end of town. One disappeared long ago, and the other was damaged.
So, to help commemorate Mountville's 2014 bicentennial year, borough leaders bought new Mountville town markers, exact replicas of the originals.
On Friday, Kresge joined other officials in cutting the ribbon for the new sign, which greets eastbound motorists along West Main (Route 462) as they enter Mountville.
The other two tall markers are to be installed soon. One will be on College Avenue on the way into town from Route 30, and the other on the east end of town, on East Main Street.
To get the new signs, Mountville partnered with The Keystone Marker Trust, a Pottstown-based company that aims to preserve and re-create the signs, according to its webpage.
While other communities in the county have had their town-marker signs repaired, Mountville is the first here to have new signs made by the Keystone trust, its president, Nathaniel Guest, said Friday.
Schoeneck, in the northern part of the county, will soon become the second with new signs made by his trust, Guest said.
Mountville "joins a growing number of communities across (Pennsylvania) that, understanding the power of pride in place, have restored their markers," Guest said Friday.
His is the only company that makes the markers, all of which are based on the original design, he said.
Friday's half-hour ceremony drew all three Lancaster County commissioners, state Rep. Ryan Aument and other local and borough leaders.
As they started making plans for next year's 200th anniversary, Mountville officials discovered it was too expensive to repair the existing cast-iron sign.
So they decided to replace their signs, adding a new, third sign for along College Avenue.
And, Kresge said, Aument knew about the Keystone trust's work and told Mountville leaders about it.
Getting new signs "was much better than repairing them," Kresge said, "because we needed more of them. ... We only had one."
The markers were first installed in towns throughout Pennsylvania in the 1920s and 1930s, serving as both a guide for travelers and a promotion of the local towns.
The new sign on West Main, and the two others to come, join a long list of accomplishments for Mountville, Thomas Ryan, of the county Historical Society/LancasterHistory.org, pointed out Friday.
"The first Girl Scout troop started in 1927, founded by Miss Pearl Lobach, one of the town's favorite educators," said Ryan, the historic group's president and CEO.
Kresge had Lobach, an instructor for nearly 50 years, as his first-grade teacher, while his mother was in her first class and his younger sister was in Lobach's final class, he recalled.
Mountville's town baseball team also was the county champion five times between 1939 and 1955, Ryan added.
In 1842, when Mountville, then known as Mount Pleasant, opened its post office, local leaders realized there was already another town named Mount Pleasant in Pennsylvania. So the Lancaster County town became Mountville.
Kresge, who as a kid a half-century ago sold sodas for 8 cents to construction workers building the new Route 30 (that was "back when I was this big," he said, smiling and holding his right hand near his waist), grew up and still lives on Mountville's College Avenue.
With all of the current-day visitors who come into town, the new markers will be a nice welcome mat, the mayor added.
"When I was growing up, if we saw someone we didn't know on College Avenue, it meant somebody was lost. Now, it's a main artery to Route 30."