Friends of Joseph Priestley House annual meeting held

NORTHUMBERLAND – The Friends of Joseph Priestley House enjoyed a presentation by Ronald Blatchley at the group’s annual meeting Sept. 26. Blatchley, appearing costumed with wig, recreated Dr. Joseph Priestley speaking to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia in 1803.

He talked of his reasons for settling in Northumberland, his continued experiments and the loss of his wife and youngest son.

Members honored Roy Olofson, a longtime supporter, who has energetically promoted the Priestley museum to international gatherings of chemists. Olofson, professor emeritus of chemistry at Penn State University, also has sought out Priestley-related items now displayed at the museum. The gathering was held in the recently renovated Pond Building for which Olofson was the fund raising chair.

Friends’ President Tom Bresenhan related the achievements of the past year, which include new display cases for reproductions of Priestley’s scientific glassware which had been in packed away in storage since the 1990s, and a new archaeology display for items dug up on the grounds.

Future plans include a series of short videos recreating Priestley’s experiments in gas chemistry, now in production. The videos will be used by docents to explain Priestley’s discoveries and posted on the Priestley House YouTube channel.

Newly elected directors for the Friends group are Dee Ann Casteel, of Lewisburg, associate professor and associate dean of natural sciences and math at Bucknell University; Lindy Fasold, of Northumberland, a social studies teacher and John Moore, Northumberland, author and local historian. They will take office in January.

The Priestley House museum is open Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. with hourly tours, the last at 3 p.m.

On Heritage Day, Nov. 3, costumed guides will welcome visitors and Blatchley will present Priestley’s chemistry demonstrations.

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