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August 29, 2013

Muster in the Park this weekend in Diamond

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MEADVILLE — The way it was...

The Diamond Park of 150 years ago was a very different place than the Diamond Park of today, but several of the buildings overlooking the scene today also stood witness to the original Muster in the Park back in 1862.

Before the fountain that stands today in the center of the park was donated to the city by the Shippen family after the civil war, the Diamond was a commons covered with packed dirt where drovers housed their cattle overnight and local militia troops trained.

Along the west side of the Diamond, the three-story structure at No. 916, just south of West Cherry Street, was only two stories high when it was built in 1830 by attorney and judge David Derickson. When Derickson sold it to attorney H.L. Richmond in 1848, Richmond enlarged the building by adding the third floor. Both attorneys used the small building next door at No. 918, which also is believed to date back to 1830, as their law offices.

Derickson built the massive Second Empire Victorian house at No. 902 in 1848, moving there after selling No. 916. Derickson’s Nephew, also named David, was captain of Company K of the 150th.

Only one of the church buildings now overlooking the Diamond was in place during the original muster. Founded by the Huidekoper and Shippen families, the Unitarian Church was constructed on the southeast corner of Chestnut and South Main streets and dedicated in 1836. The sanctuary of the church, now known as the Unitarian Universalist Church of Meadville, will be open to the public for viewing and contemplation Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The way it will be...

 While organizers are hoping that the event will become an annual celebration of Meadville’s distinguished past, they have a more immediate goal in mind. Donations will be gratefully accepted for the Bucktails’ Save Our Statue project — a complete restoration of the park’s Civil War statue.

Installed in 1890, the statue portrays Samuel Pfeiffer, the flag bearer for the 150th Bucktails. Now cracked and corroded, the statue needs to have cracks and holes in the bronze repaired and the sandstone base repainted with new mortar in addition to being cleaned and re-coated. Through grants, donations and fundraising efforts, the group hopes to have the necessary funds collected within the next five years.

“We’ll at least make it an annual event until the statue is restored,” organizer Bob Mattocks told the Tribune. However, the group has an even longer-term goal — to get younger members of the community so excited about Civil War history that they’ll get involved and carry on the tradition. “It’s a great family thing to do for a weekend,” Mattocks said.

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