A piece of historic Bellefonte moved Monday.
Fortunately, Dave Kurtz said, Bellefonte doesn’t have to move on from this piece of history.
The freight building, a longtime symbol of the town’s yesteryear, was transported Monday morning from one side of the railroad tracks to the other. It was placed in Talleyrand Park next to the railroad station after spending 147 years in its original spot near Dunlop Street.
The Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association and borough staff recognized a year ago that the building, located near the waterfront revitalization project, might not be ideal for when a developer buys the property.
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“The alternative would be us waiting for a contractor to see if it could be reused and remain where it was,” borough Manager Ralph Stewart told the Centre Daily Times in early April. “It was one of the last possibilities, but that was probably doubtful.”
Kurtz, a longtime local kayak and canoe instructor, as well as a BHCA member, funded the relocation of the building with the agreement that it would become a kayak and canoeing museum.
“At a certain age money is just money,” he said. “It’s not like you’ll always get to keep it, so why not spend it on something worthwhile?”
The building, which needs foundation and electrical work before it can be outfitted for the museum, will feature things like boat modeling, molding and design, water sports safety, boat trailers and the history of the freight building and local railroads.
Kurtz, who believes the museum will help promote kayaking and be an educational tool, viewed the move itself as a learning experience.
“The engineering and maneuvering is amazing,” Kurtz said. “You have this 35 foot by 55 foot building and they squeeze it within inches of streets signs, poles and wires. They got it to its new spot and it’s just 4 inches off. I couldn’t believe how those three guys could do that so well.”
The longtime kayak enthusiast — Kurtz has taught kayaking in the area for more than 50 years — said as much as he’ll enjoy the museum his home is on the water.
“I’m going to spend most of my time teaching at Sunnyside Paddle Park,” Kurtz said. “I’ve done that for a long time. You get a few people on the water, and they start to learn. Kayaking is the most educational sport out there. Some people might disagree with me. In what other sport is the surface moving and you’re constantly thinking about what you’re doing? You’re always paddling and thinking about your next move, and it’s fun.”