History and Archives
In 1990 the Philadelphia Folklore Society celebrated its 100th anniversary. An official from the society, realizing that there was folklore within the Deaf community contacted Gail Bober who at the time was the Director of PSD’s Center for Community and Professional Services (CCPS) here at PSD. Gail then reached out to Dr. Basch and together they reached out to Mr. Frank Mescol, Class of 1931. Frank was an excellent deaf photographer who had a wealth of photographs at his home and was very generous in donating many pictures within his collection for this project. A considerable amount of time was taken in selecting just the right photographs (some from as far back as the early 1900s), labeling them and finally framing them. In addition to photographs, PSD/PID alumni were encouraged to participate in the event with storytelling and Deaf culture discussions. Also, many deaf artists and craftsmen were asked to display their talents and wares during the event.
Many people from all over Philadelphia attended the three day event. When the event concluded the photographs were returned to storage. Dr. Basch thought this to be a waste and approached then Assistant Head of School, Mr. Dominick V. Bonura to see if the establishment of a museum could be pursued. Mr. Bonura approached then Head of School, Joseph E. Fischgrund. Joe being a strong supporter of Deaf culture embraced Jay’s idea wholeheartedly and presented the idea to PSD’s Board of Trustees who approved the idea and wished to see the schools history preserved. An ad-hoc committee was then formed to prepare a plan for the establishment of PSD's museum. Those with knowledge and expertise in the school’s history were selected by Dr. Basch. They were Mr. Dominick Bonura, Mrs. Helene Bonura, Mrs. Peggy Antal, Mr. Francis Oshman, Mr. James Goodwin, Mrs. June Goodwin, Mr. James Schooley and Mr. Don Lurwick.
Mr. Bonura carefully searched for a place on campus that could serve as the museum. He found that the behind the CCPS building there was an old two-story building (built in 1890) which was a former carriage barn with a servant living quarters on the second floor which he felt would be ideal. It had been converted and used as a classroom for the elementary children for a short time and its use as a classroom proved to be impractical. This building was fully renovated and a dedication and ribbon-cutting event was was attended by many on Wednesday, April 24, 1991. The museum was permanently named the PSD Heritage Museum.
PSD 1930-31 Basketball Team. 1st Row Center is Frank Mescol
PSD is fortunate to have our Heritage Museum which showcases the many rare and interesting artifacts of our school history. As the third oldest school for the deaf, we have amassed quite a collection. Our story and our place in history is a crucial thread within the fabric of our school culture. Our legacy and responsibility to honor our past which allows us to forge our future.
Our place in history is something we take great pride in and the items which remind of us of our past and how far we have come within the Deaf community are handled with humility and respect.
At PSD's Heritage Museum you can find just about anything related to PSD and our Philadelphia story. When you are in the museum you become transported to a time of letterman jackets and uniform blazers. We even have the china dishes used when PSD was a residential institution. (both student & staff dishes)
Memorabilia related to sports, clubs and organizations have found their forever home in our museum. Even equipment of days gone by that had been used to diagnose, treat and "correct" deafness are on display.
We have many rare and precious photographs, books and documents that are cared for so that they will be available to future generations of our PSD family and beyond.
PSD extends a heartfelt thank you and forever appreciation to our museum caretakers. Mrs. June Gawronski Goodwin ‘70 is currently the Museum Curator and a Tour Guide. Mrs. Peggy Schroeder Antal ’66 was the previous Curator but continues as a Tour Guide and Coordinator of our popular Choo Choo Trolley Tour (visiting 4 former school locations as well as Laurel Hill Cemetery and Bishop William White’s House). Mrs. Helene Bonura, a former High School Principal at PSD, was the first Curator when the Heritage Center started in 1991.
Dr. Jay J. Basch, who through his thoughtfulness and perseverance brought his idea to fruition to share with all of us. Dr. Basch, who so lovingly cares for and cherishes museum items also serves as our resource for all historical reference and has preserved our history on video.
PSD sincerely thanks each and every individual who in the early stages of museum development, dedicated their time, energy and efforts to ensure the formation of our Heritage Museum. The PSD community remains indebted to you eternally.
Jenny Strunk, Class of '84
Deaf Culture & Heritage Center Coordinator