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Pete Lewnes


Pete Lewnes is the preeminent collector of Laurel historical memorabilia, and along with his wife, Martha, has amassed over 10,000 pieces in a collection that covers early business and industry, politics, vintage retail, and anything else that pertains to Laurel. A longtime contributor to the Laurel Museum, he has an unrivaled drive to learn as much as possible about Laurel’s people and places past, and deftly finds hidden historical treasures that he enjoys sharing with the public.

Pete contributes the "Laurel Archeology" column in Voices of Laurel, and frequently brings a curated assortment from his collection to display at our presentations. Below is a growing archive of his findings.


Fyffe’s Tavern and the
Ramblin’ Raft Race

Photos and artifacts from the aquatic free-for-all on the Potomac River, improbably won in 1980 by Laurel's very own Fyffe's Tavern.

Advertising Heats Up

Advertising thermometers were highly popular giveaways from vintage Laurel businesses.

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Are You Ready for
Some Football?

As the NFL enters its 4th week of games in the 2021 season, the American Legion Post 60 in Laurel, Maryland was just beginning their season in 1948 with the hopes of repeating as the Tri-County Champions.

Main Street, 1980

In 1980, Main Street underwent a massive transformation which included the upgrading of roads, the installation of curb and gutters, sidewalks, utilities and more. Here are some photos of Keller’s News Agency and Cook’s Laurel Hardware during that time.

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A Key to the Past

A long-traveled artifact returns to Laurel.

Vintage HVAC

With Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow, legend has it that we will endure another six additional weeks of the polar vortex. Check your hot water and make sure its working properly. If not, hop in your time machine and call John T. Quill.

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The Coronavirus Find

After months of social distancing, an estate sale yields some rarities from Laurel's past.

Somebody Get Me a Doctor

Those lyrics from a Van Halen song of the same name may hit a little too close to home these days, in this time of the pandemic. But with our health (and sanity) in the forefront, it’s an opportunity to take a look back at some pieces that represent healthcare in Laurel.

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Laurel Automotive

In 1943, William and Alma Blitz opened Laurel Automotive in the building across Ninth Street from the old fire department. Alma was a true pioneer of sorts for not only working in but owning an auto parts business.

An Evening Out With Laurel's Very Own Marty Friedman

Pete spent a few moments backstage with Marty and gifted him with some vintage band photos he'd never
seen before.

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A Hop Down Memory Lane

Laurel area Easter ads through the years

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patty's Day ads from Laurel's past

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Time For Another Clock

A newly-discovered clock that once adorned a longtime Laurel business

Season’s Greetings from 1949

The year was 1949, and “Season’s Greetings” from some of Laurel’s well-known family businesses with a few that still exist today.

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The Early Days of Public Transportation

Here’s a sampling of some rare public transportation cards—early equivalents of a Metro SmarTrip card, if you will—that feature some well-known family names from Laurel’s history.

Car Clubs of Laurel

The Ram Rods, the GMC School Boys... Laurel had car clubs in the 1960s.

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Now Showing at the
Laurel Theatre (1935)

From Main Street to New Zealand and Back to Laurel

A 1960s-era matchbook from the Vogue Dress Shop somehow made its way 8,622 miles around the world—
and back to Laurel again.

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Laurel Political Memorabilia

Pins, signs, and other pieces from decades of municipal election campaigns in Laurel

Matchbook Covers

Sometimes it's the smallest artifacts that spark the most nostalgia. And in many cases, matchbook covers have ended up being the last surviving remnants of some of Laurel's past businesses.

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