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Baker Mansion

Located in the Mansion Park neighborhood, in Altoona, stands a three story, 28-room home known as Baker Mansion. The exterior walls of the home are faced in limestone, the decorative work is made of iron, cast at the Allegheny Furnace, and the building has six fluted ionic columns. The inside of the mansion contains black walnut woodwork and fireplaces made of Italian marble.
Originally, Baker Mansion was home to iron Master Elias Baker and his family who in 1844 contracted Baltimore architect Robert Gary Long, Jr to design him a new home. Construction started in 1845 and after some delays, it was completed in 1849. Elias spent the remainder of his life in the home until his death in 1864. Elias Baker’s wife and children continued to live in the mansion until their deaths. The home was vacant after Anna Baker’s death in 1914 until 1922 when the Blair Historical Society leased the building, opening it as a museum. In 1941, the society was able to purchase Baker Mansion and continue to run it as a museum till this day. The building is open to public with regular tours as well as a number of special concerts and events. Baker Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975

The mansion is filled with furniture owned by the Baker family. Exterior rehabilitation was completed in 2001 that returned the outside of the building to its original appearance. Work is continuing to be done on the inside too, in 2015 the double parlor was restored

REAL ID What you need to know.

Congress passed the REAL ID act in 2005, issuing minimum-security standards for state issued drivers licenses and ID cards. The new state ID would require a lot more information than what they currently contain. The act prohibits Federal agencies such as the TSA from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that don’t meet the act’s standards. At the current time, Pennsylvania has not met these requirements. In fact, PA state legislature passed Act 38 of 2012 requiring Pennsylvania to opt out of the REAL ID. Their reason was concern with the cost to people and the Department of Transportation to reissue driver’s license to residents of the state.
Pennsylvania has obtained many extensions from the government but that soon will change. If states that aren’t in compliance, such as PA, don’t obtain another extension then as of January 22, 2018, passengers from these states will have to provide another form of ID, i.e. passport or passport card to fly anywhere even within the United States. On October 1, 2020, air travelers will need a REAL ID or another form of ID, no exceptions, for domestic travel.

More convenient and less expensive than a traditional Passport, costing $55, a Passport Card is a credit card size passport. Passport Card are proof of US citizenship and identity and are valid for 10 years if you are 16 and older, 5 years if you are under the age of 16. They are not for international travel however; they can be used for reentry into the states from Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean, and Bermuda. 

Highland Hall

Highland Hall, nestled in Hollidaysburg, was designed by Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan. Originally, to be a Presbyterian Seminary for both male and females, the building was built in 1865. In 1911, it became a female academy and officially named Highland Hall. It continued as a girl’s school until 1940. Highland Hall was used as an Army training center during the World War II years. From 1942 until 1944, it was the Keystone Radio School. Later, Franciscan Fathers used the building as a boy’s school. In 1968, Highland Hall became an annex for the Blair County Courthouse. The building itself has spent years in a state of disrepair until recently, Highland Hall is now being renovated to serve housing for seniors 62 years or old that make less than $32,000 a year. The building will contain 53 units, while preserving some of the exterior walls of the original Highland Hall. There will also be a historically accurate addition to the new Highland Hall to retain some of the historic character.

Highland Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1978. The Bicentennial Moon Tree planted on May 5, 1976, grown from a seed carried to the moon on Apollo XIV, is located on the land. Also, the Pioneer Family statue was placed in the same year. However, it has been moved in recent years to the Blair County Courthouse.

Interested in more info on Highland Hall history? There are more than five hundred items from the Highland Hall School available at the Blair County Genealogical Society’s Library for research.

Renting vs Buying

Deciding to buy a home or continuing to rent is a thought that occurs in every adults life. Each has its pros and cons. Plenty of thought and careful planning is needed before making a decision.

When you purchase a home its yours, no one else's. This is a very liberating feeling but remember you are now responsible for all the home repairs that come with it. On a upside you have security and stability of where you live. Also, knowing that you now have more creative freedom with the decor of the home is another alluring benefit of home ownership.

When you own your own home you are more likely to put down roots. Neighbors become more like family because you have lived in the same home for many years. Children will have their own room till they grow. When they return for visits with their own family they can share memories, showing exactly where they skinned their knee, baked their first cake, etc. The knowledge that a home becomes something more is a reason why so many would rather buy then rent.

There are ways to offset the cost of your home that may help in your decision to buy. You can deduct your property taxes and also the interest paid on your mortgage when tax time rolls around. To control your budget better look into a fixed rate mortgage. Fixed rate mortgages mean your monthly payment will be the same every month.

If you are ready to make the big leap into homeownership remember Allegheny Real Estate Closings Company Inc. when closing time rolls around. Our dedicated staff can make the process easy and stress free.

Unique Traditions From Around the World

Break out the holly and the mistletoe because the holidays are once again upon us. Each one of us has a special tradition for the season. Below you will find some interesting and unique ways the world celebrates this time of year. Who knows you may want to incorporate one of these traditions into to your holiday festivities!

Germany- On the night before Christmas, German families hide a pickle in the Christmas tree. Christmas morning the first child to discover the pickle receives a special little gift.

France- Children place their shoes by the fireplace in anticipation that Pere Noel (Santa) will place a gift in them.

England- Here children don’t mail their letter to Old St. Nick. Instead, they throw them in the fireplace hoping that a draft carries them to the North Pole for him to read.

Mexico- In the city of Oaxaca, residents carve radishes into figures depicting scenes of the nativity and Mexican folklore to be put on display from December 23 through Christmas.

Norwegians- A belief that witches lurk the night on Christmas Eve cause Norwegians to hide all brooms in the house.

Italy- Nine days before Christmas, children will visit homes, reciting a bible verse and to receive a treat. Kind of like a Christmas version of Trick or Treat.

Venezuela- Venezuelan’s have found a new way to arrive to Mass. Here it is a tradition to strap on roller-skates to glide church.

Japan- Paging Colonel Sanders, in Japan the traditional Christmas dinner is KFC.

Ireland- Forgot the milk and cookies, here Santa gets to nibble on some yummy mince pies. What will he wash it down with? Well some Guinness of course!

Estonia- Traditionally families will head to the sauna together on Christmas Eve.

Puerto Rico- On the Eve before Christmas carolers will show up unannounced at a friend’s home. They eat and drink then they all head on to another’s home, continuing until Christmas morning.

Spain- Here on December 8 they place a log, which has been dressed up with a face, legs, and a hat. Through the month children make sure “Santa Log” is fed and kept warm with a blanket. Then on Christmas morning, they find presents hidden under “Santa Log’s” blanket.

Ukraine- There is a legend of a widow and her children who had nothing to decorate their Christmas tree. The spiders in the house took pity on the family and during the night, they wove magnificent webs onto the tree. When the widow woke in the morning, the morning sun shone on the tree revealing the shimmering webs in silver and gold. Now it is not uncommon to find spider webs placed on a traditional Ukrainian Christmas tree.

There sure are some fascinating ways to celebrate the season. From us to you we hope you have a very Happy Holiday Season!
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