Make your own free website on

Laurel Highland's Historical Village

About Us

About Us
LHHV Current Projects
Pennsylvania Country
Pictures Tell the story
Notable Historical Properties
Ethnic Help Links
Ethnic Connection
Children's Destination
Online Applications
Upcoming Events
Penn's Wood's Homeschooling
LHHV Forest Hiking Trail
Contact Us
Our Business Plan / Grant Information
Vending & Support Letters

Many persons would like to know about our organization and ethnic efforts. Here we will tell you a little about ourselves and our  dream!

Letter From Founder and Executive Director

"Be proud of who you are. Be proud of your heritage, because that gives you the muscle”. This statement made by President Abraham Lincoln. Our Home, Our Struggle, sums up the spirit of those living in the Laurel Highlands and America. The Laurel Highlands have a long heritage of pride and muscle, evident throughout the ongoing building of our village and its reflection.


Long used as a passage by Native Americans traveling between the east coast and the Ohio Valley, the Laurel Highlands Village area continued to be of vital importance after European settlement, becoming an economic and cultural crossroads. As a base point for a growing America immigrants, the Laurel Highlands Village area has welcomed countless immigrants to begin a new life in America. In the 19th century workers arrived to build coal mines, steel mills, the Allegheny railroad, and farming.   Many stayed to live and work in the neighborhoods.


By the late 19th century, rapid industrialization and urbanization had transformed the largely Czech, German, Croatian, Polish, and other eastern European working-class neighborhoods into a national center of labor activism. Poles, Croatians, Lithuanians, Italians, and members of other ethnic groups settled in the area, and all have left their imprint.  Now the  Laurel Highlands Historical  Village tackles one of the largest endeavors  anywhere in the United States - to build a village which will incorporate many ethnic groups as they lived and played in their sixteenth century community, prior to their heirs coming to the new land. During the sixteenth century our forefathers arrived, engaging in a struggle for political representation, educational reform, social justice, and workers' rights.


Laurel Highlands Historical Village staff and neighborhood partners have joined forces to build this ongoing effort.  It is an effort to tell the story, to reenact, to be engulfed in…to discover your past.  Gathering in meetings large and small, residents and staff are working together to build the s one-of-a-kind sixteenth century historical village which will support the many ethnic groups who built the communities we live in today.  Techniques such as group dialogues brought together past and present residents to explore shared experiences. These discussions, on topics ranging from the role of the Czech sokols, the Portage Railroad, Native Americans, Polish coal miners, labor organization by the United Farm Workers and the experiences of early immigrants, were an important step in creating the exhibition.


In another innovation, the founders have placed focus on the environment and terrain, allowing various ethnic groups to pick their building sites. In some locations we have high barren grass lands, and yet only feet away we have a dense lush very early forest starting its new growth.  Boy Scouts from the region in the near future will help to maintain our village and utilize its capabilities in a positive manner. Founder and community activist Ronald J. Shawley created the Laurel Highlands Historical Village logo.


Those visiting our village will be cast back in time.  Within the walls of Laurel Highlands Historical Village visitors will be able to reenact their heritage, and gain a better understanding of their ethnic roots. Children will engage in educational seminars and hands on learning. Students from area colleges and universities will participate in ongoing theatrical performances.  Use of interactives to engage the visiting children has marked the village exhibitions and Our Home, Our Struggle is no exception. Sites of Struggle presents people and places important in the labor history of the village, while Festive Foods introduces foods typically eaten by the Native American, Czech, Mexican, Polish, Croatian, German, Italian and other European peoples who have lived in the Laurel Highlands over the centuries. Children will also enjoy our sixteenth century playground featuring Jacobs Ladder, Mini Jousting, Log Walking, and the Wild Labyrinth.


Programs will complement the exhibition using art, theater, music, and even food, along with lectures, panel discussions, and tours to introduce many different facets of the village past and present.


We welcome you our fellow Americans, to help in our efforts as we continue to build this community, in which we will preserve our various ethnic backgrounds and teach the next generation where we all began. 


Ronald J. Shawley

President & Founding Member

Legal Information

Employer Identification Number: Call for details

DLN: Call for details

Foundation Status Classification: 509 (a) (1)

DUNS: call for details


Many crafters in our village preform lost arts, sharing and teaching the arts to our youth



            The Laurel Highland’s Historical Village, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 2003 for the purpose of promoting an appreciation and understanding of the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of the Laurel Highland’s region which, historically, has served as the home of many immigrants who arrived in the nineteenth century and earlier to work in the coal mines, steel mills, on the railroad, and as farmers.  The underlying rationale for the Laurel Highlands Historical Village is that the more residents, and particularly the youth understand their unique, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic heritage and how it has contributed to building strong communities.  The commitment is to worktogether to preserve the area’s diversity and to strengthen the communities which have emerged over the past century.


            Much like how other historical venues such as Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts and Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia have evolved into major tourist attractions, the Laurel Highland Historical Village seeks to recreate – in Western Pennsylvania - an ethnic-centered heritage village which will reflect what life was like in the early life of the Laurel Highland’s region while, most importantly, showcasing the contributions of many ethnic groups to the progress of the region.  The Laurel Highlands Historical Village – created on tract of farm land – will be complete with authentic buildings, gardens, and other related economic and work-related features common to the Laurel Highland’s area during the pre-industrial and the industrial period.  We will showcase how people of that time period made their living such as glass blowing, blacksmithing, coal mining and steel-making.


            While the Laurel Highlands Historical Village will serve as an educational and cultural venue for all age groups,  primary consideration will be given to meeting the educational enrichment needs of children and youth.  A key program of the LHHV will be, for example, an Enrichment Day Camp for Children designed to provide opportunities for personal growth and the development of self-esteem.  This camp will teach children self-discovery of their heritage, the opportunity to engage in discussions with ethnic leaders from the community, and for building friendship and relationships across ethnic groups.  We envision the Village becoming an important and much needed extracurricular environment that will help to foster learning and success in today's youth.  To help implement the educational component of the Laurel Highlands Historical Village, the organization plans to utilize, as tutors, discussion facilitators, and instructional leaders, students from area higher educational institutions such as University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  Finally, the Enrichment Day Camp will fill an important need for today’s children to experience life outside the city and to engage directly with the natural environment; an opportunity increasingly disappearing as a result of urban sprawl.


            When the Historical Village is fully developed, it will include space for shops, merchants and artisans who will provide not only opportunities for purchases of ethnic foods, local crafts, and theme-based merchandise  but also p an additional educational opportunity for visitors to learn about the early life and commerce of the Highland’s region and how it has shaped an important region in the history of the U.S.  We believe this component, as well as the other features such as an actual “working” farm and the Historical Village’s open air environment will position the Laurel Highlands Historical Village to become a major tourist destination for much of the eastern seaboard of the United States, thereby adding a new dimension to the local region’s economy; much the same way other theme parks have done in other regions of the United States.


            In summation, the Laurel Highlands Historical Village is an idea whose time has come for fruition in Western Pennsylvania.  


Welcome kind sirs
We wenchs would like to welcome you to our village.

Feel free to attend our monthly meetings, the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Our meetings are now being held at the WMA office in Johnstown. The office in located on Gazebo Place (Across from Pavillion in Central Park), 4th floor. Please call 814-322-1825 for more details.  

Mission Statement

To provide a forum to inspire, motivate and teach young people about their rich cultural and ethnic heritage through storytelling, handicrafts, skill demonstrations and seminars, period architecture, garments, tools and lifestyles.  We want to provide a powerful and vivid experience that is both entertaining and educational, one that engenders in our children and youth interest in the many and varied ethnicities which shaped our nation.  


As an historical venue, the Laurel Highlands Historical Village seeks to create an ethnic centered heritage village reflecting life in earlier times that is accessible to the public. We hope to showcase the contributions, skills and talent of many ethnic groups who shaped to the progress of this region. 


The Laurel Highlands Historical Village will be created on a tract of farmland which will be complete with replicas of buildings, gardens and trails as well as domestic and work-related features common to the Laurel Highlands region pre-industrial revolution. LHHV’s focus will be on areas such as glass blowing, textiles, agronomy, blacksmithing, music, food, arts and crafts with special emphasis on teaching the skill in the context of various era lifestyles.

Our Creed

We are a community born from the principles that every person can make a difference and that every moment matters. We further affirm that education is fun, learning should be something one is passionate about and knowledge should be presented in a manner that personally engages and stimulates the desire to learn all one can. In addition, we believe that we have a duty to preserve our world and its history, and, most importantly, its culture and ethnic diversity.

We coordinate groups of children to help them discover and enhance their ethnic origins and personnel potentials. 

He thinks he be....
Our Executive Director Displaying the proud dress attire of our friends from the Highlnads

Be Proud Of Who Your Are...
Be Proud Of Your Heritage...