Old Economy Village is registered on the National Register of Historic Places and located in neighboring Ambridge in Beaver County. While maintained by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, the programs of the village are run through the Friends of Old Economy Village.
The Friends of Old Economy is a non-profit organization that helps to preserve the 6-acre, 17-building historic site. The village was the home of the Harmony Society, a religious communal society that immigrated to the area from Germany. The Harmonists founded Economy in the early 1820s on the banks of the Ohio River and were known for their piety and industrial prosperity.
“We have the licensed agreement to hold events and tours,” said Lynn Popovich, administrator of the Friends.
Like many historical areas, Old Economy Village has been faced with decreased funding and two years ago in November of 2009, the site was actually closed by the state.
“It was through hard work and a lot of effort, but we were able to reopen,” said Popovich.
The Village reopened in April 2010 and now depends on money raised by The Friends to keep its doors open and operating. While the state maintains the buildings on the site, the Friends do basically everything else.
According to Popovich, there are over 220 volunteers who assist with programming and services, including many from the Moon and Robinson areas.
Over 14,000 visited Old Economy Village last year with over 4,500 school children visiting, so the site is important to the history, culture and economic assets of the area.
Since the Friends depend on fundraisers to fund programming, they are always looking for new and innovative ways to help in these efforts.
“We’ve hosted a variety of things including gardening workshops, Civil War events, Red Fire Truck Day and for a few years, we hosted a garden party,” explained Popovich, “It occurred to us that unless someone came on a tour, they didn’t have the opporutnity to see our absolutely gorgeous gardens so we had ‘An Evening in the Historic Gardens on the Ohio River.’”
As the group looked for something “a little different” for a new fundraiser, the idea of a concert came up.
Popovich said when one of the administrators from the state was visiting and she asked if they could host a concert, he replied, “I don’t care if you have a Who concert here,” referring to another popular rock ‘n roll band.
That got the group thinking, said Popovich and when they started looking for a band that would draw a crowd and was available, they landed Survivor.
“We thought it was perfect because we are trying to survive and here is the band Survivor,” said Popovich.
Then she revealed a secret.
“Plus, I’ve always had a crush on the lead singer Jimi Jamison,” she laughed.
Crush or not, with the Survivor concert, the Friends hope to raise over $45,000, said Popovich. They need approximately $125,000 to $150,000 to run Old Economy Village and provide services including tours and demonstrations each year.
There is also a local tie to the band. Their newest band member, Walter Tolentino, is a Sewickley Academy graduate and from the area.
Beer, beverages, and food will be sold at the event and they are currently seeking additional vendors and sponsors for the concert to help offset the costs.
Popovich said they hope the concert becomes an annual event at Old Economy and the staff and volunteers are already starting to throw out ideas for the next band to host.
Survivor will be in concert at Old Economy Village and will perform in the historic gardens on Friday, August, 24. Gates opens at 6 p.m. with a performance by Bishop Clay at 7:30 p.m. Survivor will perform at 8:30. Tickets are $50 for Gold Seating and $30 for General Admission (lawn chair/blanket seating only). Tickets are available at Showclix.com, Old Economy’s website , or call 724-266-4500.