Exploring Bellefonte with Mr. Maris


Alexis Eakin, Staff Reporter

Explore Bellefonte and learn local history with BAHS history teacher Mr. Matthew Maris. 

Mr. Maris is originally from North Carolina. After studying secondary education and social studies at Lock Haven University, he fell in love with the Centre County area and decided to stay. He then began teaching history, and has been doing so for 12 years now. He is a 2020 recipient of the John H. Ziegler Historic Preservation Award (given for Excellence in Historic Preservation through education) from the Centre County Historical Society and “#LoveBFT” Award from Bellefonte.com and Downtown Bellefonte Inc. 

After permanently moving to Central Pennsylvania, Mr. Maris held an internship at the Centre County library, a position he said sparked his interest in local history. His passion for history then grew larger and larger to become what it is today.

Mr. Maris now has a business partner, Mr. Dustin Elder, a former Bellefonte High School teacher who now resides in Tyrone. The two share multiple social media accounts and run the business Local Historia LLC, which was made to create and lead more historical walking tours.

“I started Local Historia a few years ago after volunteering with the Centre County Library,” Mr. Maris said. 

Mr. Maris began his tours in the Fall of 2019, and has since led many around Centre County, though primarily in Bellefonte during the summer.

Throughout his tours, he teaches people about the history and Centre County’s involvement in the Civil War, Downtown Bellefonte, Waterfronts, and Talleyrand Park. Many of Mr. Maris’ coworkers have participated in some of these tours.

“I learned about the local history of Bellefonte … It was very relaxed and informational,” business teacher Mr. Andrew Weigold said. 

Government teacher Mrs. Allyson Durney has participated in several of the walking tours.

“Mr. Maris does an absolutely fantastic job with his walking tours. What most impresses me about Mr. Maris is how invested he is in Bellefonte and the surrounding areas, even though he is not a native Pennsylvanian,” Mrs. Durney said. 

 The tours are open to anyone who wants to have fun and learn about local history in an interesting way. Mr. Maris wants history to be an enjoyable and engaging topic to learn about. According to him, the inspiration behind the tours is “to connect people with local history in a creative and fun way.”

During Victorian Christmas on Saturday, December 11, Mr. Maris is holding a free event for kids to attend from 1-4 p.m at the Gamble Mill (160 Dunlop St in Bellefonte). There will be games and crafts along with some treats. History, of course, will be present.

“We always try to share a dash of [it]!” Mr. Maris said.