Levittown native Kimberly Praria Boice always knew, even as a kid, that she wanted to someday work in a museum. There was just something about history, the stories of our past, that called to her.
Currently, Praria Boice is not only living out her childhood dream, she has the honor of doing so in her own backyard.
It was recently announced that Praria Boice was named the new executive director of Historic Fallsington – the private nonprofit that has preserved the village since 1953. She was appointed by the board of trustees in September 2019, and, after a brief transition period, hit the ground running to expand programming and help the organization navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m a Levittown girl, so I grew up coming to Historic Fallsington Day as a kid and was very much aware as I got older about the organization from a more professional standpoint,” she said. “[When hired] I jumped right in from the start. Fall is one of our busiest times of the year with Historic Fallsington Day, a Spirits of the Past tour at the end of October, and then we usually have a fall fundraiser. To step in at that time and be able to work with the outgoing director for about a month was really fantastic.”
Praria Boice brings 16 years of experience in museum administration and educational programming to the role. She previously served as museum educator at Peter Wentz Farmstead in Lansdale, where she also coordinated volunteer efforts as well as media relations, social media and marketing. She holds a master of arts degree in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program (SUNY-Oneonta), and is a magna cum laude graduate of Albright College in Reading.
While no degree could prepare anyone for COVID-19, Praria Boice helped her new team through the closure, which ended on Friday, June 26, when Bucks County entered the “green phase” of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan. Historic Fallsington, headquartered at 4 Yardley Ave., is open during regular business hours, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“What has changed, with everyone’s health and safety in mind, is tours are offered by appointment only so that we can make sure everything is well-maintained, cleaned and disinfected appropriately, but also to keep tour size small,” she explained. “We also have tour booklets available for a dollar. That’s more a self-guided option. Some folks just aren’t quite comfortable yet going on a tour in a historic building, and we certainly appreciate that.”
On tour, guests can view a handful of buildings operated by Historic Fallsington, including a log house, which is still standing in its original location from the 1760s; and the Burges-Lippincott House, which was the ancestral home of the village doctor for many years.
“The history of the village is ongoing, and we’re always looking to share some of the more recent stories,” said Praria Boice. “Unfortunately, a lot of people find history dull. But ultimately, it’s about the people, whether they lived in the past or more recently, and that’s what I’m hoping to do a little bit more of here with the programs. It’s still an active community, and all of those folks have interesting stories to tell.”
Moving forward, Praria Boice welcomes ideas from locals about topics and programs of interest to them, and they’re encouraged to reach out with ideas and suggestions. Additionally, she plans to conduct outreach programming at the Pennsbury and Philadelphia school districts.
“For students who can’t make it here, we’re willing to work with them and schedule programs to go to them. That’s actually true for any group,” she said. “We’re willing to meet people where they are and do our best to offer them a program, whether it’s a PowerPoint or an object-based program. It’s been going well and unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic promptly put a halt to some of that, but we anticipate once people start feeling more comfortable again, that will pick up.”
In the meantime, for those still leery about visiting public spaces, Historic Fallsington is utilizing the power of the internet.
“We will continue to share interesting history facts, fun photos and general updates on our Facebook and Instagram pages,” Praria Boice said. “The pandemic we all face is a tremendous challenge, but we will continue to do everything possible to fulfill our mission and reach the broadest possible audience.”
With COVID-19 case numbers remaining steadily low in Bucks County, the organization plans to offer the favorite traditions of Historic Fallsington Day on Saturday, Oct. 10; Spirits of the Past tours on Sunday, Oct. 25; and the Community Christmas Tree Lighting on Sunday, Dec. 6.
For information and updates, and to schedule a tour, visit historicfallsington.org, call 215-295-6567 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Historic Fallsington is on Facebook at facebook.com/HistoricFallsington and Instagram at @hfipa.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com