Saturday, April 7, 2012

Slovaks of the Mahoning Valley

The next installment of the free History to Go lecture series:

Slovaks of the Mahoning Valley
Saturday, April 14th at 2:00 p.m.
SS. Cyrill & Methodius Church
252 E. Wood Street, Youngstown

Our community is made up of peoples of diverse ethnicity and we are excited to host an event that focuses on the history and contributions of one of those groups, namely the Slovak-American community. Loretta Ekoniak and Susan Summers, who recently co-authored a book documenting the local Slovak community, will give a presentation highlighting certain content from that book. Afterwards, there will be a tour of the historic SS. Cyril & Methodius Church.

Copies of the book will be available for sale.

This event is partnered by: SS. Cyrill & Methodius Church, St. Matthias Church and Holy Name of Jesus Church.

From the Arcadia book jacket:

To many people, the sight of a sky aglow with flame, clouds of smoke, and the smell of sulfur in the air would bring thoughts of sermons about brimstone, fire and punishment for a life of sin. But Slovak immigrants fleeing poverty in Europe saw a picture of hope and prosperity as they came to the Mahoning Valley in response to the promise of jobs and good pay in the steel mills. From the 1870's, when the first Slovaks came to this area, to the present, there is no part of American life in which these Slovak Americans have not thrived while living the American Dream.

Lorretta Ekoniak, a grandchild of Slovak immigrants, grew up in Youngstown. She is president of the American Slovak Cultural Association of the Mahoning Valley and is deeply involved in keeping the Slovak heritage alive. Susan Summers grew up in Campbell. Her work at the Arms Family Museum and the Campbell Historical Society fueled interest in her Slovak heritage and influenced her decision to help maintain Slovak memories.

The Images of American series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive sotires from the past that shape the character of the community today.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Titanic: Tragedy in the Headlines - a new exhibit at the Arms Family Museum

Titanic: Tragedy in the Headlines features coverage of the Titanic disaster by the Youngstown Telegram and the Youngstown Vindicator. Stories range from firsthand accounts of the crash’s immediate aftermath to speculation about what could have been done to avert the disaster to descriptions of recovering bodies from the collision site. The exhibit will be open through the month of April.

The Arms Family Museum is located at 648 Wick Avenue in Youngstown. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and $2 for children. For more information please call 330-743-2589 or visit

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Burt's Confectionary Opened 90 Years Ago Today!

Harry B. Burt (1874-1926) came to Youngstown in 1893 and began making and selling penny candy. He expanded his business with high quality candies, chocolates and ice cream. Around 1920 Burt invented a process for freezing a wood stick in an ice cream bar and coating it in smooth chocolate so it could be made and eaten without being touched. He called his new confection “Good Humor Ice Cream Suckers. Burt purchased the building at 325 West Federal Street in 1921, and underwent an extensive remodeling project. The new Burt’s Confectionary opened to the public on April 4, 1922 amid great fanfare in the local daily newspaper The Youngstown Vindicator. The facility included a chocolate and hard candy factory, kitchen and bakery, banquet room, large dance hall, dining rooms, a retail store for his products and an ice cream factory. With the latter Burt could mass-produce Good Humor suckers and provide enough inventory for his new distribution method—selling ice cream on the streets in Youngstown-area neighborhoods from a fleet of freezer trucks with bell-ringing, white-uniform-clad drivers.

For the opening Burt published a souvenir booklet, a copy of which is in the archives collection. Portions of the booklet were reproduced in Historical Happenings from July of 2008 to February of 2009.

In 2008 the Mahoning Valley Historical Society purchased the building and is in the process of renovating it into the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center. The new History Center will be designed to make as much of the Harry Burt/Ross Radio Building accessible to the public as is possible. In fact it will be a multi-purpose community center with a local history theme. The basement level will house the Historical Society’s archival library storage and public research rooms. The first floor will include gathering spaces, a museum store, and large and small exhibit galleries. The original second floor ballroom will be restored and available for Historical Society events, public rentals, and traveling exhibit installations. The third floor will include an education classroom, media room, multi-purpose exhibit and event gallery, office and meeting space.

Progress on renovations is 75% complete. Highlights of the project include the reinstallation of four skylights, restoration of the historic ballroom and preparations in the basement level for compact shelving.

See some photos of construction!

The Campaign for the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center has raised $4.6 million of the $6 million goal.

3 Local Foundations donate $750K to project

For more information about the campaign

Purchase a donor bar