ZELIENOPLE — The Country Fall Festival gives the Zelienople Historical Society a unique opportunity to showcase local history.
The society, like many other businesses and organizations in the borough, will operate under unusual hours this coming weekend to help the thousands of people flocking to Zelienople for the festival.
While usually closed on the weekends, the historical society will open the historical Passavant and Buhl houses and offer tours from noon to 4 p.m. on both days of the festival.
Museum shop Manager Mary Cameron said the festival offers a great chance for the historical society to reach out to people it might not usually be able to service.
“A lot of people who come here and are interested in the tours have connections with Zelienople,” she said. “Maybe their parents live here or they grew up here. Regardless, this is something they really want to see.”
Both the Buhl and Passavant houses are preserved relics that offer tourists a snapshot of how Zelienople’s two founding families lived in the early 19th century.
Indeed, the Passavant house is named as such because its builder, Phillipe Passavant, was the town’s first merchant and was also the husband to Zelie Basse, the woman for whom the borough is named.
Passavant and his wife came to Zelienople in the first decade of the 19th century, and their house still stands on Main Street.
Christian Buhl, the patriarch of Zelienople’s other founding family, came to the area in 1802 and built his home, which today is the oldest standing building in town.
He and his wife raised 11 children in that house, and their descendants are still spread out in the area today.
Cameron said that any kind of event draws people to the historical society, and that the Fall Festival is just one more
“Any of the festivals we have in town draw people,” she said. “They are very helpful to us.”
The two historical houses aren’t the only objects that give tourists a glimpse into the lives of the town’s founders. Cameron operates a museum gift shop in the Buhl House that sells antiques donated by residents. Other gifts feature Zelienople-themed items for people to buy.
“The houses aren’t the only historical aspects of our tours,” she said. “We have plenty of exhibits that feature all the old businesses in town, many that don’t exist today but once were part of Zelienople and its history.”