Education: Wagner-Ritter House

Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Teachers' Guide

Wagner-Ritter House

Frame two-story town house with stoop on sidewalk

The Wagner-Ritter House on Broad Street in Cambria City, Johnstown, PA.

The Wagner-Ritter House & Garden is a seasonal facility, but we will open anytime for pre-arranged groups.

Visit the following link for more information on the Wagner-Ritter House.  It is an article written by the Post Gazette and contains an audio slideshow which is fantastic.  The slideshow shows the interior of the house.

Additional information concerning the house and its history can be found here.

A Working Family in Cambria City

When most of us think of historic house museums, we likely think of the restored mansions of the rich, famous, and powerful: Mount Vernon, Monticello, Clayton, and Fallingwater. Without question these houses offer us a rare look inside the lives of their owners.

But what of the millions of everyday people? What were the lives of the great majority -- most of our ancestors among them-- like?

The Wagner-Ritter House in the Cambria City neighborhood of Johnstown is a rare house museum that tells the story of a typical working class family in an industrial town. It is rarer still, in that it is one of the few Cambria City buildings to survive the Great Flood of 1889. Built around 1850, the house is being restored to what it was like in 1900 when the Wagner family lived and made a living there bottling soft drinks.

The house and its visitors center is just a few blocks away from the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center, making it the two sites and the Cambria City neighborhood an ideal field trip "bundle".

This teachers guide offers three theme threads for classes to explore:

Neighborhoods Worlds Apart: Cambria City and Westmont

Students will compare social, economic, and architectural aspects of Cambria City and Westmont through census data, historic maps, and architecture. A walking tour of the Wagner House's Cambria City neighborhood will build students' historical imagination skills and coach them to read the landscape like cultural geographers.

(Wonder)Women's Work: Real Vs. Ideal

Pressures to be a "Super-Mom" are not new. A century ago, the media -- in the form of advice manuals and advertisements for an explosion of new products and services -- projected ideal views of housekeeping that view real women could live up to. Most working class families couldn't afford new conveniences like electric light, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners. They could barely afford rent and groceries. Learn how women held the family economy together -- a more than full-time job of back-breaking labor.

A Kid's Cambria: Growing up in 1900

What was it like to be a kid growing up in 1900 at home, work, and play? Some kids didn't have the luxury of "growing up." It was still a time of great infant and childhood mortality, when many children never lived to see their sixth birthdays. Many of those who did make it soon confronted more danger when they went to work in the mines and mills to help families living on the edge of poverty. Schools prepared them for an economic world very different than ours, so most left school after eighth grade, but not until completing a surprisingly rigorous curriculum, which modern students can sample right from the textbooks. Still, kids will be kids, so kid's growing up in Cambria City did not neglect having fun! Students will learn how kids occupied themselves before mass media and adult-devised video- and computer-games.

About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | ©2013 Johnstown Area Heritage Association