Cement museum to open May 12
Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum will open for its 20th year May 12. The Northampton-based museum, with 3,000 artifacts, has attracted thousands of visitors, both local and abroad, over the two decades.
The museum features a slice of the cement industry history in the region. Its focus is on the once-thriving Atlas Cement Company and its role in the makings of industrial America.
Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum, located inside the Northampton Municipal Building, 1401 Laubach Ave., will be open the second and fourth Sundays of the month between May and September from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Ed Pany, museum curator, said there are numerous tours of students, organizations and small groups over the next few months.
The museum will celebrate the 120th anniversary of Lafarge Cement Company, which for many decades was the Whitehall Cement Manufacturing Company. On display are several cement bags with printing of the various types of cement produced at the Cementon plant.
A 1948 work by Garrett Conover, a large watercolor painting of the village of North Coplay and near Coplay Cement Company, will be featured for the first time. The painting was found recently by a Northampton Area High School employee and brought to Pany’s attention.
“It will be on display at the museum throughout the season and returned to the high school to be displayed permanently,” Pany said.
With visitors from as far away as China, Mexico, Canada, Austria, England, Italy, France, Germany and more, the museum has also hosted visitors from all over the United States — California to Maine.
The artifacts, all originals, include a re-creation of the Atlas plant office and laboratory with its microscope, vials, typewriters, desk and chair. Records of the Atlas contract and paperwork for the cement used in building the Panama Canal, Holland Tunnel and Empire State Building are part of the museum’s makeup. The original bell from the Atlas Cement Railroad, a dark brown beer bottle from Atlas Beer, a talking horse, interactive exhibits and a mural painted by Roger Firestone depicting Atlas Cement buildings, historic sites in the borough and town settings are all attention grabbers.
Hundreds of fifth- and eighth-grade students from the Northampton Area School District will tour the museum this month.
The priceless artifacts, photographs and memorabilia can be seen without a charge, Pany said. Larry Oberly, Sally Madden, LeRoy Brobst and Pany serve as tour guides.