Friendship and Learning at the Compass Inn Museum: Volunteer Spotlight

Friendship and Learning at the Compass Inn Museum: Volunteer Spotlight

The Compass Inn Museum and Ligonier Valley Historical Society are nestled in the foothills of the Laurel Ridge, tucked in the tiny community of Laughlintown. Every year, tourists, schoolchildren, and locals gather to enjoy the personal tours and special programs put on by the Museum and Historical Society.

Those tours and programs would not be able to happen without the dedication of outstanding volunteers like Gloria Nelson.

For a little over 12 years, Gloria has been volunteering with the Compass Inn Museum and Ligonier Valley Historical Society.

“I have been on the staff of several living history museums over the years. I worked at the Old York Historical Museum in Maine, and before my retirement, at the Noah Webster House in West Hartford, Connecticut for nine years.”

During her work in Connecticut, she started as a museum teacher and then became the Director of Education, utilizing her degree in education to enhance the existing programs.

“I was retired when I moved to Ligonier, and was soon drawn to volunteering at the Compass Inn. I joined when the museum had their normal open house in May of 2008.”

Gloria’s favorite part of working at all these museums? The curious, fun, and enthusiastic children.

Gloria giving a demonstration for a living history program.

“I love showing them what life was like a long time ago. The Noah Webster House gave me experience with many children’s programs, so at the Compass Inn, I was able to contribute to helping with summer camp, the school tours, and living history weekends. I also enjoyed bringing visitors on tours. Additionally, I’m involved with making historic costumes, and I like making my own and wearing them at the museum.”

Crafts are also one of Gloria’s specialties (she’s an expert weaver!). Whether sharing textile arts, cooking over an open hearth, dipping candles, or tin punching, her demonstrations aren’t to be missed.

“And then in the winter time, when the museum is closed, I help with the collections and archives at the historical society.”

The most challenging aspect of volunteering at the Compass Inn has been learning the huge amount of history to share with visitors.

“You need to learn all the facts to share during programs and tours, but I am a lifelong learner, and slowly learning everything has been wonderful. That learning experience has been courtesy of many good and helpful staff over the years.”

Gloria demonstrating her textile skills.

According to Gloria, people should volunteer at the Compass Inn Museum and Ligonier Valley Historical Society because there is a huge variety of work offered.

“The museum is a friendly place to work, both in the office and in the public-facing areas. If meeting new people, getting to wear a costume, learning about history, working outdoors, and interacting with enthusiastic tourists sounds like a good time to you, then the Compass Inn should be first on your list for volunteering. If you prefer a more private, indoor, organizational way to spend your time, the office and archives always need dedicated volunteers. There are also plenty of opportunities for event planning, fundraising, and grounds keeping. There is something for EVERYONE.”

Finally, Gloria tells us that friendship is really what makes all the volunteering special.

“You will meet special people who have similar interests to what you enjoy, and your help will always be welcome and appreciated.”


If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering at the Compass Inn Museum and Ligonier Valley Historical Society, please contact Compass Inn’s executive director, Theresa Gay-Rohall, at or call 724-238-4983.