About Friends of Narbeth History
Friends of Narbeth History seeks to connect the community and build identity by preserving and sharing the story of Narberth, Pennsylvania and its people.
On the steamy evening in July 2014 Dennis Montagna, George and Deborah Lonsdorf, Tom Grady, Jim Speer and Georgette DuBois met at Borough Hall to discuss our town. Or rather Our Town, the bound volumes of the newspaper published in Narberth from 1914 to 1949. They were stored precariously under a sprinkler on a shelf whose space the library wanted to reclaim. There was a proposal to discard them.
The "Narberth Historical Society" was founded to preserve this important piece of our history. To avoid confusion or competition with the Lower Merion Historical Society, which also covers Narberth, we renamed ourselves Friends of Narberth History and Mayor Grady submitted and obtained non-profit tax status for the organization, in case we should ever want to solicit funds.
So we started our effort of outreach, collecting and sharing. Before the end of that first month, we registered NarberthHistory.org and made our first Facebook post. Spring 2015 marked our first NarbEarth Day appearance, and the Narberth History Map debuted with four layers (1896, 1908, 1926 and 1948) and six "Views of Narberth Past".
Dennis Montagna, President
Dennis directs the National Park Service’s Monument Research & Preservation Program, which supports the interpretation and care of historic cemeteries, outdoor sculpture, and public monuments. He chaired the federal review panel that oversaw the completion of the African Burial Ground Memorial in lower Manhattan. He serves as vice president of the Association for Gravestone Studies and chairs that organization’s Conservation Committee. He is a former chair of the American Institute for Conservation’s Architecture Specialty Group. His publications and lectures include examinations of the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in Washington, DC, Eudora Welty photographs of Mississippi cemeteries in the 1930s, efforts to preserve mental institution burial grounds, and the memorial that Franklin Roosevelt designed for his grave at Hyde Park, NY. Dennis holds BA degrees in Studio Art and Art History from Florida State University, a master’s degree in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a PhD from the University of Delaware.
In Narberth, Dennis has delivered the popular and engaging talks The History of Downtown and Houses of Narbs. He is a member of the recently formed Narberth Historic Preservation Initiative.
George Lonsdorf, Treasurer
George is a web developer with a specialty in mapping, and is responsible for the creation, design, writing, coding and maintenance of the FoNH website. Formerly a professional singer of traditional Anglo-American folk music and medieval and Renaissance music, his ensembles often performed from his own transcriptions of original manuscripts. He was the Adminstrator of The Cloisters in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's branch for medieval art and arhitecture, where he was the city's premier mediæval impressario, hosting concerts and dramas from Europe's Middle Ages, and designing the programs, brochures and advertising while coding the automation of the booking and ticketing systems.
In Narberth he is a Trustee of the Narberth Community Library, Judge of Elections for Narberth's southside district and past board member of the Narberth Civic Association.
Deborah Lonsdorf, Secretary
real estate agent, photographer, advertising producer FoNH photgrapher many of the modern views of Narberth Past and illustrative images for the website; created postcard reproductions, calendar coordinator
In Narberth, deborah is past president of Narberth civic association, coordinates the NCA's Ricklin's window displays
Tom is Narberth's second-longest serving mayor (2006 - 2018) and procurred the FoNH archive in Borough Hall