New banners commemorate Geneva history, handwriting

Platt R. Spencer Historical Society members Lucille Romeo, Mary Lou Cheney, Mary Schnieider, Charlotte Hunt, Beth Stillwell and Bill Peters pose for a picture with the commemorative banners they provided that were placed throughout Geneva’s historic downtown business district by Geneva Street Department Supervisor Tim Bittner (right). 

GENEVA — It’s a banner year for the Platt R. Spencer Historical Society. 

The group has adorned the historic Geneva downtown business district with 17 commemorative lamppost banners dedicated to preserving the heritage of Platt R. Spencer, the internationally renowned Geneva resident who is called the Father of American Handwriting.

Beth Stillwell, Historical Society president, said the group held an array of fundraisers to purchase the banners. 

“We are really pleased that the banners were created by local sign artist Bill Conrad using a design created by master penman Michael Sull,” she said. Sull is internationally known as an artist who is an expert on the flowing handwriting style created by Spencer. He created the template for the decorative sandstone lintel above the Geneva Platt R. Spencer Elementary School entrance depicting its name in Spencerian Script. 

When the building was dedicated, Sull presented Geneva Schools officials, members of the Spencer Historical Society and the Spencer All Classes Reunion Committee with an original letter composed in Spencerian Script which acknowledged the administration’s foresight in naming the new school building. An excerpt from the letter reads, “The value of Platt R. Spencer’s life and accomplishments cannot be overstated. … He pioneered the field of written communication in 19th century America and significantly contributed to the welfare and literacy of our people. In naming the new school after him, you have done the greatest service by perpetuating his name and humanity to this community and our nation.” 

Sull’s design is also incorporated into the commemorative Platt R. Spencer historical marker/monument in front of Western County Court in Geneva.

Spencerian Penmanship is still taught by Sull through workshops and, locally, by his protégé Harvest Crittenden during the two week-long Spencerian Saga Workshops held at The Lakehouse Inn in Geneva-on-the-Lake each fall. The Spencerian Saga Workshops, designed to perpetuate interest in the skill, attract devotees from across the globe, who are eager to learn and to practice the art of writing in Spencerian Script.

Stillwell said the banners purchased by the Historical Society are a wonderful way to celebrate Spencer’s contribution to local and national history. 

“Keeping history alive and commemorating our heritage is important now and for future generations,” Stillwell said. For more information about the Platt R. Spencer Historical Society and its projects, call organization secretary Charlotte Hunt at (440) 466-8033.

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