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Emmaus historic houses commemorate councilwoman on the passage of historic commission

Emmaus Historical Commission Recognition
Jay Bradley
Teri Sorg-McManamon (in red) presented with a certificate of appreciation by preservation society members (left to right) Dave Biles (Shelter House), Gene Clock (Knauss Homestead), Maryellen Iobst (Knauss Homestead), Maggie Fischer (Knauss Homestead), Marian Schneck (Knauss Homestead) and Richard Farmer (1803 House)

EMMAUS, Pa. — In its final meeting of the year, Emmaus Borough Council on Monday unanimously established its new historical commission to applause by local preservationists.

Those same preservationists took time during the meeting to celebrate outgoing Councilwoman Teri Sorg-McManamon, a board member of the Emmaus Historical Society, for her "tireless efforts in ensuring the preservation and protection of three of our most treasured historic sites."

"It's not just me," Sorg-McManamon said when receiving a certificate of recognition from Knauss Homestead Preservation Society President Gene Clock.

"I mean, it's all of us that have been behind you all for so many years and now that you all are together as a group, it's just so wonderful."

Representatives of the preservation societies for the Knauss Homestead, 1803 House and Shelter House — all historic buildings in the borough connected with its founding — came to see the passage of the ordinance establishing the commission and to celebrate the effort made between the groups and the borough.

Sorg-McManamon is among three Emmaus council members leaving the position at the end of the year, along with Chris DeFrain and John Hart.

Sorg-McManamon expressed interest in serving on the new commission, while Hart plans to serve the borough via a new community foundation.

Gene Clock Emmaus
Jay Bradley
Knauss Homestead Preservation Society President Gene Clock speaking and delivering a certificate of appreciation for councilwoman Teri Sorg-McManamon's historical preservation efforts

'Excited to work together'

Emmaus Historical Commission, introduced during the prior borough council meeting, brings together representatives from the borough's three historic homestead preservation boards and community members to jointly pursue grants and manage and educate about the borough's historic resources.

Sorg-McManamon, who also is a board member for the independent Emmaus Historical Society, said a larger organization could be a boon to those sites getting grant money, prioritizing efforts and opening further collaborative projects and funding.

The commission will feature 11 voting members serving three-year appointed terms, including two representatives from each of the three historic homestead preservation societies, and five at-large members of the Emmaus community, two of which can be non-residents.

A non-voting liaison to Emmaus Borough Council also will sit on the board.

"It's been really satisfying to see that the presidents of the three historic homes are on the same page, they want to work together, they're excited to work together," Sorg-McManamon said when the ordinance was introduced.

Emmaus Historical Sites
Jay Bradley
The three historic homesteads in Emmaus. The Knauss Homestead (left), Shelter House (center), and 1803 House (right) are governed by their own historic preservation boards while the property is owned by the Borough of Emmaus.

The individual volunteer preservation boards will remain, operating in the same capacity, but if it was to disband, the historical commission would control the property in question until a new board is created.

'The right time for all of us to join'

Borough Manager Shane Pepe said during the Dec. 4 meeting that to get to this point meant moving around many political landmines.

"There's some struggles that they really need the help of a larger organization to really help them with," Pepe said.

"I think they're starting to see that's going to be the way that they're going to be able to continue to do what the community wants and what they want with the houses."

Gene Clock, president of the Knauss Homestead Preservation Society, said after the ordinance was introduced that, "we're excited about all this coming together because it'd be a lot more people involved to help support us.

"I think it was just the right time for us all to join him and effort."

Other nearby municipalities, such as Lower Macungie Township and the City of Bethlehem, have adopted their own boards to govern historic preservation.

Emmaus currently has other volunteer commissions that do work around for the borough community, such as the arts commission and recreation & entertainment commission.