FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2009
Contact: K.E. Schwab
New Old Stone House curator plans expansion projects
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Aaron Cowan, Slippery Rock University assistant professor of history, has been named curator of the University's Old Stone House, one of Butler County's most recognized and historic landmarks.
The facility, located at the intersections of routes 8, 173 and 528, 12 miles north of Butler, was once a stagecoach stop and inn, tavern, restaurant and historical archive for Butler County's history.
"My initial plans are to use the facility for more public events. We have already scheduled our opening weekend May 2 as a Native American Pow Wow," Cowan said.
Work is also already under way on updating exhibits in the facility's upstairs room. "We hope to increase the schedule so more people will visit," Cowan said. The upgrade work is planned to continue through summer.
Cowan said he hoped to involve a number of SRU history students in work at the house. Since joining the SRU history faculty last fall, Cowan has touted opportunities for history majors to be involved in "public history," which includes work at museums and with historical societies.
"I hope to integrate work at the Old Stone House into the history curriculum," he said. "We know that good things can happen in small places, and by working at the Old Stone House, students will have opportunities to do a little bit of everything from designing and establishing exhibits, gathering materials for the exhibit and then offering talks and tours related to the exhibit. This is really a great opportunity for students."
Cowan said very few universities or colleges have a museum directly under their authority that can involve students so directly in the operation.
He said talks are already under way with the Butler County Historical Society to see what joint ventures may be possible. "We want to develop new exhibits about the history of Butler County and the entire Slippery Rock area," Cowan said. He expects to contact similar historical groups throughout the region to further expand the facility's use.
"We want to give people a reason to come to the Old Stone House - or return to the house if they have been here before. We have to do new things, so we will have revolving exhibits, new aspects of history to consider, and we hope to examine all of western Pennsylvania's history," he said.
Work is being done to upgrade the existing French and Indian War exhibit. "The one we have is a bit dated and needs new lighting. So, those things are already taking place in the exhibit room," he said.
Cowan completed his undergraduate work at King College and then earned his master's degree and doctorate at the University of Cincinnati.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.