McKenna’s Corner Threatened

It has been a little while since the last post on this page.  We went through some personnel changes, and we are back!  There is a very important message we were asked to post on the website requiring immediate attention.  We received this important request from concerned citizens regarding resources associated with the Lattimer March that are threatened with demolition.  The following text describes the situation and the way citizens can act to prevent it from happening. It seems very possible, based on some recent contacts we have made, that in fact some historical buildings and places that were witness to the March and subsequent Massacre may have survived relatively intact along the route.  Please comment if you have any knowledge, impressions or ideas about this that you could share with the project and the community. 

A PennDOT highway widening project along S.R. 93, Broad Street in Hazleton, PA is threatening a “witness building” at 1 N. Broad Street at “McKenna’s Corner”, the site of the first confrontation drawing blood between the Lattimer marchers and the Luzerne County Sheriff and the armed posse which killed the marchers. If allowed to proceed, the project will demolish one of the critical axis points at the point of confrontation and will destroy a historic resource.  The Pennsylvania state review of the project under the National Historic Preservation Act completely failed to recognize the historic events at McKenna’s Corner. Its historic resources survey failed to adequately account for the National Register of Historic Places listing “Criterion A”, which recognizes places associated with “events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history”.

 

These events at McKenna’s Corner involved a confrontation between the coal mine worker marchers, the deputized posse, the Luzerne County sheriff and the West Hazleton Chief of Police at 2:00 pm of the day of the massacre, September 10, 1897. Here, the first blood was drawn in a confrontation that nearly turned to gunfire but for the action of the West Hazleton Chief of Police, Evan Jones. This confrontation preceded the massacre by only one and a half hours. In direct historic terms, those buildings that survive today along the route of the march to Lattimer and at McKenna’s Corner on Broad Street are the poignant silent witnesses and evidence to Pennsylvania’s most tragic labor history events.

 

As it now stands, the project recognizes buildings owned by coal barons such as George Markle, but would demolish the witness building, which was also the local United Mine Workers of America office. As a result, the historical record expressed by the fabric of the properties deemed worthy of historic preservation is history told from the side of the wealthy coal barons, but is silent from the viewpoint of the oppressed coal miners and organized labor in the coal fields of Pennsylvania.

 

We encourage letters of concern which urge a halt to the demolition, re-opening the historic review process under the National Historic Preservation Act, and requesting recognition of these historic resources.

 

Letters can be sent to:

 

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,

Old Post Office Building,

1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 803, Washington, DC 20004,

and the

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission,

Bureau for Historic Preservation Commonwealth Keystone Building,

400 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120-0093.

The letters of concern must use the reference “ER/05-8042-079, Broad Street Corridor

Improvements Project.”

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