LANGHORNE BOROUGH >> Despite COVID-19, the year 2020 will go down as a banner year in Langhorne Borough.
Over the past four months, the Langhorne Council for the Arts (LCA) has spearheaded a project to install 20 blue and gold banners throughout the borough celebrating the town’s famous people and historic places.
“This is our contribution to the town,” said Pat Mervine, president of the LCA board of directors. “We didn’t make any money off of this. It was just a labor of love for the town.
“It’s also a nice socially-distant thing to do,” said Mervine. “The timing of the project was not intended for the pandemic, but it certainly worked out well. People are out on the streets a lot just walking and getting their exercise. And now they can learn something, too.”
The project started with the goal of marking the birthplace of world-renown painter, Edward Hicks, famous for his “Peaceable Kingdom” painting, and quickly expanded to 19 other locations in the borough through a partnership with town historian and LCA member Florence Wharton, who recently authored a book about Langhorne entitled “Crossroads of History.”
“Edward Hicks was born in Langhorne. He learned his craft of painting carriages and wagons right behind the Langhorne Hotel and there’s nothing in town that tells you this,” said Mervine. “We decided that needed to be rectified. So we came up with the idea of an historic banner.”
The LCA obtained approval from HARB and the Langhorne Borough Council to hoist a banner honoring Hicks in front of his birthplace, today the site of the Langhorne Coffee House.
Permission was also given by the borough for the LCA to add 19 banners about other important and interesting people, places, and facts that are largely unknown, but that have contributed to the borough’s rich and storied past.
Banners on East and West Maple, North and South Bellevue and a few on South Pine now tell the story of three Longshore doctors, pioneers in the field of medicine; Joseph Wahl, the lead stonemason for the construction of Bowman’s Tower in 1929; and Jesse Soby, who died in battle during World War I in France and whose name now holds a place of honor at the local American Legion Post.
The banners also identify the oldest businesses in town; share the story of the Town With Three Names; mark the location of the Signature House and Washington Village; and numerous other people and places in town.
“I particularly think people will enjoy learning about the three Longshore doctors - Joseph, who founded the Women’s Medical College of Pa., and his two daughters, Hannah Meyers Longshore and Anna Mary Longshore Potts, trailblazers in the medical field and two of the original eight graduates of the medical college, which is now part of Drexel University,” said Mervine. “That thread that he started still exists today. I was just amazed to know that they came from here.”
According to Mervine, the LCA worked closely with the Historic Langhorne Association to verify that all the information contained on the banners is accurate and true to history.
The banners are prominently displayed on the town’s light poles using high quality, Victorian-style brackets at a height that makes them easily read by pedestrians.
“We hope that these banners will encourage people to visit, explore, and think about the borough in a new way,” said Mervine. “They’re attractive. They entertain and inform people while they are walking. It’s going to make people look at Langhorne very differently.”
If you can’t make it to Langhorne to see the banners in person, you can enjoy taking the virtual walk through the past on the LCA website where visitors can read each banner and see photographs from the past and present.
In addition, the LCA is putting together a walking tour brochure, which will be available at the Bucks County Visitors Center in Bensalem and other locations, including Langhorne Borough Hall and businesses around town.
The banners are underwritten by the following individuals, organizations and businesses: Langhorne Council for the Arts (Edward Hicks banner), Robert and Florence Wharton (Joseph Langhorne, M.D.), Robert and Florence Wharton (Anna-Mary Longshore-Potts, M.D. ), Robert and Florence Wharton (Hannah E. Myers Longshore, M.D.), Evelyn Aicher (in memoriam), Jane Boyle, Lynda Johnson, Sandi Stark Kaiser, Terri Frink Little, Judy Nangle Sloan, and Donna Willits Thomas (Anna Mary Williamson), Langhorne Tax and Bookkeeping (Signature House/Ruth Irwin), Larry Langhans (Joseph Wahl), Penn Community Bank (Joseph Richardson), American Legion Post No. 148 (Jesse Soby), Middletown Friends (Middletown Friends Meetinghouse), Karen Maitha and Paul Maloch (Friends School), Lance and Pat Mervine (Orthodox Friends Meeting), Ben Asta (Langhorne Hotel & Tavern), Barry Truchil and Bernadette West (Bellevue Institute), Keith Pacheco. (Washington Village), African American Museum of Bucks County (Bethlehem A.M.E. Church), Wm. Parry & Son (First Electric Trolley), First National Bank and Trust (Early Businesses in Langhorne), Langhorne Borough (A Town With Three Names), and Langhorne Open Space, Inc. (Catawissa).
Donations to this project, payable to Langhorne Council for the Arts, can be sent to Langhorne Council for the Arts, c/o P. Mervine, 960 Langhorne-Yardley Road, Langhorne, PA 19047.