SOUDERTON — There's a new museum in town.

"This was the original bank building," Univest CEO and President Jeff Schweitzer said shortly after an Oct. 19 ribbon cutting for the new Univest Museum in the Univest conference center at 24 N. Main St., Souderton. 

The museum includes items from both the bank's and Souderton's early days.

"Tradition is one of our core values," Schweitzer said. "We're just excited to bring together a lot of memorabilia that we've had throughout many of our buildings into one place that I think can really share the heritage of Univest and our connection to Souderton." 

The bank's history goes back 142 years to when it started as Union National Bank in 1876, he said.

Among the items on display are the company's articles of incorporation, written in April of 1876 by William Souder Hemsing, said Dan Yocum, Univest's Small Business Administration administrator, chairman of the Univest Historical Committee, one of the founders of the Souderton-Telford Historical Society and the seventh generation of a family whose Souderton roots go back to great-great-great-great grandfather Christian Souder, the father of Henry O. Souder, who, along with founding Souderton, was one of the Union National Bank founders. 

"There's ledgers from the day the bank opened," Yocum said. 

That was on June 12, 1876. 

"William B. Slifer made the first transaction," Yocum said. 

Other items on display include several years worth of ledger books, the bank's second floor vault, and photos of bygone days. Items from the borough's history include a WNPV/Miller's Variety Store clock and the front page of the first Souderton Independent, printed in German in 1878.

"We've been a big part of the community for a long time," Schweitzer said, "and it's really nice to be able to bring all that memorabilia together and really have something that the community can experience and reminisce about and be excited about."

"We brought it together where you can kind of experience what 142 years really is," Yocum said. 

In recent years, the building had been used for board meetings and as a community space for non-profit groups, Schweitzer said. 

"This building, itself, is an artifact. It was built in 1877," Yocum said. 

"Now Univest has 40 locations and 800 and some employees," he said, "but it all started right here with three employees."

Following the Oct. 19 afternoon ribbon-cutting, Univest employees were invited to tour the museum, followed by area residents having the chance to take the tour during that night's Third Friday activities in Souderton. 

The museum will not have regular open hours, but can be viewed by appointment, said John Landes, Univest director of risk management and senior loan officer. Persons or groups interested in scheduling a tour can do so by contacting Univest at 215-721-8396, a release about the museum said.

The building in which the museum is located neighbors the company's present headquarters.

"We've been here on this street 142 years, same block of the same town," Yocum said. "You're not going to find another company anywhere that has that kind of history."

The museum was a labor of love by Yocum and Landes, Schweitzer said, thanking them for the work.

"History's very important to them. It's very important to us as an organization, our connection to the community," he said. "I really appreciate all the effort they put in to make this come to life."   

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