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Saturday, June 24, 2017


On Friday, June 30 at 7 p.m., the hands of time will turn back 200 years as the History Comes Alive series continues at the Deane Center’s Coolidge Theatre at 104 Main Street in Wellsboro.

The audience will enter the world of Thomas Jefferson. The stage will either become Swann’s Tavern in Albermarle County in Virginia or, if there are too many visitors from northern Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York, the Court House in the nearby village of Charlottesville since it is spacious enough to accommodate a large crowd.

On June 30, 1817, Mr. Jefferson will address his visitors and reminisce about the attitudes that prevailed 41 years prior and the events that led up to the 1776 adoption of a document that he describes as “pregnant with the fate of our country.”

Following his remarks, Mr. Jefferson will hope his visitors from a very different society will have enough interest and curiosity about his perspective of those long past days, his relationships with other "Founding Fathers," his role as chief executive, and his current "hobby" of establishing a university in the upland country of Virginia to offer questions and commentary of their own.

Thomas Pitz of Orange, Virginia has been portraying Jefferson for 30 years. He does not memorize lines. Instead, this oral historian becomes Jefferson, the principal author of America's Declaration of Independence who also served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809 and was a Founding Father of this country.

Pitz's love of history began when he was a third grader. His main interest is the American Revolutionary War era from the 1750s on.

A high school guidance counselor in Orange for 32 years, from 1973 to 2005, Pitz remembers when he first became Jefferson. “In 1987, I was in a summer stock theater production playing Jefferson. “I got a call from the Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville asking if I would portray Mr. Jefferson for a group of their guests. I’ve been Jefferson ever since.”

Born in Virginia in 1743, Jefferson was 83 when he died on July 4, 1826, in Monticello, the plantation home he designed when he was 26.

Pitz has researched him and his contemporaries and is well versed in Jefferson’s own writings – specifically his letters. “They give you a sense of the language he uses. It’s beyond the scope of history books.”

By sharing Jefferson's ideas, personality and contradictions, Pitz gives his audiences a sense of the man's remarkable intelligence. “Even today, Mr. Jefferson is the most referred to person I’ve ever seen because he was influential and yet controversial,” Pitz said.

“None of the Founding Fathers evokes a stronger feeling in people than Thomas Jefferson. They may love him or hate him, but few people can ignore him if they wish to understand America,” Pitz concluded.

Tickets are $15. For tickets, call 570-724-6220 or visit www.deanecenter.com.

Photo by Ed Wesley
Tom Pitz as Thomas Jefferson works on the Declaration of Independence. He has entertained audiences around the United States, including his annual July 4 appearance at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. That's where he will be heading following his visit to Wellsboro.

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