During the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration that swept our nation, a group of Laurel citizens was appointed to head up programs and activities that would celebrate the two hundredth birthday of the United States. At the close of all of the year-long activities, some visionary members of this initial committee decided that there was a wealth of history associated with our area. They felt that it needed to be remembered, preserved, and passed down to future generations. To this the Laurel Historical Society was incorporated in January 1977, with the group's first meeting occurring the following April. From that initial group of sixty individuals, the Society has grown to a membership of over two hundred people. The members care deeply about Laurel and want to preserve the memories of growing up in a tight-knit, rural community for future generations. Thirty years ago there were no cell phones, no computers, nothing digital. Sussex County was also a lot less crowded. In those same thirty years, we have grown from a group with no home to one with two properties, a museum, and a wealth of artifacts, documents, decorative arts, and memorabilia of times past.
In 2008, the Society embarked on an extensive maintenance program on the Cook House, the repository of the Society's collections and offices. Since the program began, the Society has completed work on the roof, replaced the sidewalks, and, in October 2009, had the exterior of the house repainted and resealed.
The Laurel Historical Society, in over thirty years, has never lost sight of the principles that the organization was founded on. With the support of our members and the community, we will never cease our work of ensuring that the history of Laurel, and the citizens who have called the town their home, will never fade from memory.
The Edward L. and Norma Jean L. Fowler Center for Research and Education is an area at the Laurel Historical Society’s Headquarters, The Cook House, where historical documents, photographs, artifact and research books are located. An ongoing volunteer project to catalog and organize these items over the past decade has resulted in a facility where people can study not only Laurel’s rich history, but their own family genealogy as well. The center’s mission is to bring today’s populations closer to the lives and times that went before, and to offer a place to browse, study, and learn. The center’s vision for the future is to have professional staff and regular open hours available to help visitors make the most of these resources
George Denney - President
Artez West - Vice President
Dee Cross - treasurer
Emily Whaley Spicer - Secretary
Crystal Slavens - Corresponding Secretary
Past President - Ned Fowler
Chris Slavens * Don Phillips * Jared Allen
Brad Spicer * Norma Jean Fowler * Brian Shannon
* Trina Giles * Matt Parker * Patrick Vanderslice
* Woody Disharoon * Doug Marvil
We are saddened by the news of the sudden death, on December 24, of society member and supporter Dan Twilley, of Sykesville, MD, last living descendent of Emanuel Twilley, builder of our 1878 Hitchens Homestead and its adjacent mill.