Discovering Scranton’s History at the Lackawanna Historical Society Museum
Despite Lackawanna County being the last of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to be created, the region is home to an immense amount of history. While many visitors learn about this history at sites like Steamtown National Historic Site and the Anthracite Heritage Museum, the Lackawanna Historical Society Museum also offers a wealth of fascinating information about the region’s past.
The Lackawanna Historical Society was founded in 1886, just eight years after the county was initially formed. Since the 1940s, the society has been housed in the Catlin House, which is located among the buildings of the University of Scranton.
The Catlin House was built in 1912 for George and Helen Catlin. George was a early financier of the area and served as a banker, lawyer, and judge. When the home was built, it was fully electric and surrounded by the homes of other notable families including the Scrantons and the Archibalds.
Today, the home serves not only as the headquarters of the Lackawanna Historical Society, but also as their museum. Visitors can tour the home to not only see how the Catlins and other wealthy families in Scranton lived, but also to learn about the history of the county.
The first floor of the home is set up as a home of the era would have looked. The most formal room in the home is the parlor, which features furniture that was once owned by the Archibald family that lived nearby.
Scattered throughout the home are paintings done by John Willard Raught. Raught was an artist from Dunmore than studied in the Hudson Valley School and was known for his impressionist style paintings of both the industrial and scenic landscapes of the Scranton area. His work can be seen in the Smithsonian (as well as in the nearby Everhart Museum), but seeing his work within the setting of a historic home was a real treat.
The home’s second floor features a variety of displays about the history of the county. These include displays on the coal industry, military history, and life in northeastern Pennsylvania.
One of the bedrooms is set up like the office of a coal executive during the late 19th and early 20th century. The room features a historic desk, along with other items that would have appeared in a coal executive’s office such as a dictaphone and a relief map of the area’s anthracite coal fields.
As with many other county historical societies in Pennsylvania, the museum also contains items related to the county’s military history as well as fashion that was popular in Lackawanna County. There is also a rather large collection of hair art, which is a curiosity that shouldn’t be missed.
The museum also features a nice collection of items related to both the county’s coal history and its transportation history. While not nearly as in depth as collections at the Anthracite Heritage Museum, Steamtown National Historic Site, or the Electric City Trolley Museum, these displays offer a nice primer on the subjects.
Overall, the Lackawanna Historical Society Museum offers a fantastic overview of the history of this area of northeastern Pennsylvania. If you love history and are visiting Lackawanna County, you won’t want to miss this great museum.
Note: My visit to the Lackawanna Historical Society Museum was hosted by the site. However, the opinions expressed are my own.
Lackawanna Historical Society Museum
Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 10a-5p
Address: 232 Monroe Ave