WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A group of do-it-yourself homeowners were in the spotlight Wednesday night for their hard work preserving history in the Diamond City.
Many of Wilkes-Barre’s old and historic homes have been taken care of and preserved by local homeowners. Three owners were presented with plaques Wednesday for their hard work and dedication to the long-standing buildings.
Wilkes-Barre’s oldest brick house still in use, better known as the Andrew McClintock house, was filled wall to wall with people on Wednesday as local fixer-uppers were honored for their historic hard work.
“We bought it from Wilkes University, it was a dormitory for about 50 years or so. And we’re the third owner of this property, it was built in 1842,” said award recipient Joel Zitofsky.
The Wilkes-Barre Preservation Society held its third annual Preservation Awards, acknowledging three historic homes and those who have helped preserve them.
“We have young families who live downtown that have restored houses. We have businesses that are moving into the houses,” said Wilkes-Barre Preservation Society director Tony Brooks.
Bill Frey and Irina Melnick are part of that, turning the Isaac Long House into their home and business space.
“Unfortunately when we bought it, it had been abandoned for a few years and probably was ready to be torn down so, you know, all new plumbing, electrical, heating, a lot of plaster work,” Frey explained.
These homes have been in the Diamond City for more than 400 years combined, and award recipients and homeowners of the historic properties are proud of the hard work they’ve put into them.
“You always think as you’re doing it, is anyone noticing the work that you’re working on or trying to complete and it’s nice to see that it’s being recognized,” said award recipient Vaughn Koter.
“Even though it is a lot of work to restore an old house, it’s definitely nice being recognized and that other people appreciate these historic homes as much as we do,” Melnik explained.
The awards for these homes are more than just acknowledging how long they’ve been standing, but to also encourage more historic preservation throughout the area.
Koter restored the Gerald Fluegel house, a hands-on job that he believes can add value to the area.
“I think people discount our city as a valued place to live, and I would encourage them to take a second look, find a neighborhood, and make a difference,” Koter explained.
Information on Wilkes-Barre’s Preservation Society and its mission can be found online.