Three local companies work together to introduce a new generation to Jimmy Stewart

Black and White Photo of Jimmy Stewart

If you’re from Indiana, Pennsylvania, chances are you’ve heard of iconic silver screen actor, Jimmy Stewart, or watched the beloved holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life. What most people don’t know is that just outside the glow of the movie lights, James Maitland Stewart was a war hero, a family man and a deeply proud Indiana native. The Jimmy Stewart Museum was dedicated in 1995 on Philadelphia Street in his hometown.  Twenty-five years later, three local women and their business teams were tasked with rebranding The Jimmy Stewart Museum with a new website, up to date logo, and a fresh perspective on the man behind the name that everybody knows.

Protecting the Legacy by Leading the Right Team

Sarah Hillegas, owner of Planful Marketing, started her company to help small, local businesses and organizations meet their goals and succeed in a fast-paced environment.  Her personal attention to every project and every person as an individual is what sets her work ethic apart.  Protecting Jimmy Stewart’s legacy while introducing new technology and modern ways for patrons to connect was a tall order, but one that she took very seriously.  As an IUP graduate and a self-proclaimed townie, Sarah took pride in caring for Jimmy Stewart’s memory like a good neighbor.  Throughout the course of the project, she worked side by side with the museum’s board every step of the way making sure all of the pieces fell into place and each portion of the project was delegated to the best person for the job.

Introducing the Past to the Future.

Kaycee Newell of Newell Graphic Arts has loved Jimmy Stewart since her college days.  She created several pieces of art featuring him and carries her signature retro style throughout her vast portfolio of professional graphic design work. She was the perfect choice to design the new logo and spearhead the artistic aspects of the design kit that would go on to drive the new website and print collateral. (She’s a heck of a football player as well!  She spends her free time on the field as the founder and president of the Indiana Women’s Flag Football League! She has also been a member of the Indiana Borough Council for more than five years.)

Jimmy Stewart Museum Old Logo
Jimmy Stewart Museum New Logo

Building the Framework

One of Planful’s own, Julia Cornell, lead the website layout and design. Julia has been working for Planful for almost two years and is a senior at IUP. She has extensive experience in graphic design, web design, and web development. She was able to successfully combine her vision for the site with the new brand and required functionality.  The consistent style and the seamless animation that Julia brought to the design make the final product a modern and easy to navigate site. When asked if she had any personal connection to Jimmy Stewart she said, “I grew up hearing about Jimmy Stewart, driving past the museum on my way to school, and hearing his voice give the “okay” to cross the street downtown. For so many people Stewart’s movies hold a special place in their hearts; they watch It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas with family, Harvey taught them to always look at the bright side, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington showed them to stick up for what’s right even if it doesn’t seem possible.”

Jimmy Stewart Old Website Mockup
Jimmy Stewart Museum New Website Mockup

Getting All of the Details Right

Megan Pritts of Ducks In Rows (a new marketing agency that specializes in SEO/SEM) assisted with some of the major technical pieces of the website build including SEO, properly writing redirects for old URLs, and making sure all tracking tools were in place. Megan also assisted in troubleshooting errors to make sure the website’s launch was successful.  “My mission as a business owner is to help growing businesses get the right message in front of the right people. Indiana is truly an amazing town and I hope that my involvement in these projects helped to bring the community together to celebrate a kind, courageous person we can all learn from.”   

Aubrey Brown, an IUP graduate and Planful team member collaborated on the project by editing all the written copy.  In her own words, “my part was small, but seeing the whole project come together was really rewarding.  Being an Ebensburg native, Indiana became my second home while I was in college.  Working for Planful is my dream job and being a part of a female owned business has been uplifting and encouraging. Indiana takes so much pride in Jimmy Stewart and it felt good to be a part of the community with this project.”

The Passion Behind the Project

None of this would have been possible without the newly appointed museum director, Janie McKirgan. Ever since she was hired, Janie has been on a mission to update all aspects of the museum and she made it a priority to bring in only local companies to help her do it.  She has completely renovated the interior and has spent countless hours providing content and constructive feedback on all aspects of the rebranding process. She responded immediately to any and all requests. She truly put in the time needed to make this project possible.

Celebrating the Museum’s 25th Anniversary 

Zach Morrow, the owner of Noble Stein Brewing Company, crafted a custom beer for the museum’s 25th anniversary celebration!  His wife, Megan (who also assisted with the technical pieces of the website) designed the beer label. While Covid-19 has derailed the plans for a huge gathering with a ribbon cutting, cake, special guests, and a film festival – the museum is still marking the occasion by sharing video messages and interviews on their social media page!  

PC: Karen Plate Photography

Jimmy Stewart Hometown Hero 25th Anniversary Label

This project was more than just a website, it’s about keeping a legacy alive.  In the final iconic scene of It’s a Wonderful Life, the citizens of Bedford Falls come together to help Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey, save the building and loan that helped build their town. Rebranding The Jimmy Stewart Museum was a labor of love for many local professionals to unite their unique talents and introduce a new generation to the man behind the movies.  Indiana, Pa would not be the same today without Jimmy Stewart. His movies, accomplishments and overall journey of life inspires the citizens of Indiana to work together, take pride in their community and build their own wonderful life.  

Written By Amanda Wilson of Photography By Amanda Wilson