The Quakertown Historic District [‡] was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.
The Quakertown Historic District encompasses the majority of the incorporated Quakertown Borough, located in the upper region of Bucks County. Set in a flat landscape favoring the central portion of Richland Township, the mile long district is defined by the major roads that crossed through this area by the mid 18th century. The Quakertown Historic District's period of significance is from 1734 to 1957 to include the earliest buildings and seeds of the town clustered around Main Street through the mid-20th century when trolley service ceased, passenger rail service diminished and before the Quakertown Plaza Shopping Center replaced the stove foundry ca.1968. The principal growth period for the Quakertown Historic District is from 1850-1940, giving the town a strong Victorian and early 20th century character. The Quakertown Historic District contains representative vernacular examples of Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival and Italianate from before the Civil War and more distinctive examples of French Second Empire, Victorian Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Romanesque, Prairie, 2nd Renaissance Revival, Dutch Colonial, Classical Revival, Craftsman Bungalow and Colonial Revival distributed throughout the district. The solid visual character of the Quakertown Historic District is created by the preference for masonry construction of stone and brick (some covered with stucco), and also for large, square proportioned, 2-1/2 story buildings. Except for the older Main Street area and the commercial downtown, the Quakertown Historic District has a spacious residential feel defined by broad streets and comfortable setbacks for the buildings, with front porches on most of the houses. Quakertown also contains distinctive clusters of well-proportioned double and row houses of substance, as well as principally brick, three-story factories, both types of which are again distributed comprehensively throughout the district. There are a total of 2,401 resources located on 1,396 parcels (plus 74 vacant parcels) including residential (91%), industrial, commercial, public, and religious buildings, 12 structures (bridges, rail track, gazebos, walls, stadium fixtures) and 13 sites (including two cemeteries and several former house sites). Three properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and contain four buildings and one structure not included in this count. Non-contributing buildings are principally post-1957 infill residences on side streets and several period buildings with severely diminished integrity, the largest being the hospital (portions dating to 1930). The remarkably high percentage of contributing resources (94%) and historical integrity allows this district to convey through its original setting, design and workmanship, the rich history and strong feeling of identity that characterizes Quakertown today.
In plan, the Quakertown Historic District is a wide "H" with the cross strike being Broad Street, the west vertical Main Street and the east vertical Hellertown Road. Broad Street runs East to West, the above cross roads traveling essentially South to North. The Reading division of the North Pennsylvania Railroad rail line is located in the eastern half of the district, running diagonally from SE to NW and defining East and West Broad Streets. Residential character pervades, with substance and rhythmic spacing along the streetscape contributing to a cohesive character, despite varying designs and types, namely single, double (twin) and row houses. Deep rectangular lots with small grassy front plots and narrow side yards, reinforced by the grid pattern of the streets, also contribute to the repetitive rhythm and egalitarian character of the district. The homes are frequently complemented by outbuildings namely wagon houses or garages of stylistic compatibility to their respective residences (resulting in an average of 1.72 buildings/parcel). These outbuildings are set at the rear of the lots, along narrow, unnamed alleyways. Trees and landscaping contribute to the spaciousness of the streets, although large trees are sporadic, generally in the side and rear yards. There is a straightforward honesty visually conveyed by the district, both in the practical maintenance of the houses (including some vinyl and aluminum siding) and in the easy mix of uses side-by-side: stores, churches, houses, factories, schools, shops and garages, blended by rhythm, fenestration and proportion as compatible neighbors. The boundaries of the Quakertown Historic District are essentially reinforced by this predictable building density, which changes to open space or modern highway commercial outside the bounds of the town.
In spite of this even build-out of the Quakertown Historic District, its origins and physical development can be discerned through the subtle changes in architectural styles demonstrated through the 220 years of its building heritage. The earliest settlement that defined the initial village of Quakertown clustered in the vicinity of the Main and Broad Streets intersection. Visible today are the oldest buildings in the district interspersed in this area, Liberty Hall, the Lester Tannery House and the Log House on Main Street representing early vernacular Colonial and Georgian inspired buildings. Historical records verify the presence of quite a few log houses during the 18th century; their existence is still documented by the ca.1761 log house visible at 137 South Main Street near the Richland Friends Meeting. Its angled placement to the street, ground level entrance and low proportions, with several additions, reinforce the survival character of early Colonial settlement. The Heller Farmhouse (320 Heller Road), remodeled in the 19th century is said to be of log originally in the Continental plan. The building material of preference by Georgian and Federal period builders was the native fieldstone, evident on the diminutive Liberty Hall, ca.1772, 1237 W. Broad Street (National Register listed), still with conservative proportions, ground level entrance and half gambrel roof. The pent roof accenting the horizontal lines of the rough ashlar fieldstone, balanced fenestration and segmental arch over the side windows show the vernacular application of prevailing Georgian stylistic features filtering out of the Germantown area of Philadelphia. These features are repeated on the Lester Tannery House, 1434 West Broad Street, begun ca.1734, including the three-bay, two-pile "Penn Plan" and, by the end of the 18th century, the substance reinforced by the additional two bays, setting the standard for large square homes that have come to define Quakertown's housing stock. Other early buildings of visible stone construction in this western portion of the Quakertown Historic District include the Red Lion Hotel (added to and later covered with stucco, 4 South Main Street) on the SW corner of Main and Broad streets and the C. Foulke Farmhouse, labeled "old" in an 1883 estate plan, at 1017 W. Broad Street between 10th and 11th Streets. The latter's slight asymmetry, ground level entrance and end bay door placement are remnant of 18th century German Continental plans. The low, massed rectangular plan and solid appearance of Georgian found favor even after the Revolution, evidenced in 45 (3.2% of built-upon parcels) of the district's buildings of this style.
Federal inspired buildings principally clustered in this west end show the local embrace of full Georgian massing and five-bay fenestration to create large homes of substance, but with more elegant proportions and offset with gracious Adamesque door treatments and details. Both fieldstone and brick are used, most often covered with stucco. The William Green Store on the NE corner of Main & Broad (1239 West Broad Street) is among the earliest dated ca.1805, followed ca.1812 by the Burgess Foulke House (originally located near the Friends Meeting, now 26 North Main Street), the ca.1814 Enoch Roberts House, 1226 W. Broad Street (National Register listed) and ca.1812 Richard Roberts House (100 S. Main Street). The Green Tree Inn also known as the Dr. Green House continues this deep Georgian, 5-bay form in exposed brick by 1837 at 27 South Main Street.
The strength of massing and even fenestration of these buildings, coupled with closer placement to the sidewalk is repeated by smaller, three-bay, side gabled houses that cluster in an old town fashion along South Main Street from the Quaker meetinghouse up to Broad Street, fanning along Broad Street in both directions. Most of the building stock in this area appeared before the Civil War and reflected the Quaker residents' conservative penchant for well-designed and proportioned Georgian and Federal inspired buildings, at most with very modest Greek and Italianate features. Several double houses (Evan Penrose, early frame example, 1831, 133-135 S. Main Street, and row clusters (141-145 South Main Street and 133-135 South Main Street) begin to appear, introducing housing solutions embraced heartily elsewhere in the borough by the late 19th century. While growth was calm and steady during the several decades before 1860, the plainness of the architecture from this period suggests a sustaining, rather than expanding prosperity and attitude after the flourish of the Federal period. A total of 243 (17.4%) houses in the Quakertown Historic District are characterized as Federal, again some mid-century and later, due to the practical appeal of the symmetrical fenestration and proportions. The integrity of the masonry, whether stucco, brick or stone has been retained, as well as the fenestration openings, although upgrades to Victorian or modern sash may have taken place. Likewise, frame siding may have been replaced over the years with currently available products, however, this treatment has reinforced the middle-class character. The strength of the Quakertown Historic District is in the repetitive placement, scale and fenestration pattern and in the numbers of surviving buildings from this period that provide the backbone and scale of subsequent development.
A second locus began to develop near the intersection of East Broad Street and Hellertown Avenue (Route 212) by the second decades of the 19th century with combined residence, hotels and stores continuing in more modest Federal forms. This east end crossroads, known as Richland Centre, evolved loosely, with several pre-Civil War homes interspersed through the surrounding blocks. These small, vernacular, plastered masonry renditions of the three-bay Georgian form with Federal applications or Greek lintel details, are represented by buildings such as the J. Rosenberg House, 431 E. Broad near Elm Street and the Benjamin Roberts House 405 East Broad Street between Penrose and Elm streets.
While Quakertown is often described as a combination of the above two villages, a third collection of pre-Civil War buildings sprang up around the W. Broad and 9th Streets intersection with the mill and foundry operations of Thomas Strawn (915 West Broad Street). Three houses clustered on the NW corner of this intersection, 901-905 W. Broad Street, appeared by 1840-60, again represent this severely vernacular box form, three-bays wide and two piles deep, standard gable with minimal details, plastered or frame. Similar houses were added along West Broad, to the west of 9th Street.
The strength of this mid-century cluster encouraged the Italianate styled Jonathan Springer Home (now Strunk's Funeral), with nearly flat bracketed roof, to be built opposite the 9th street mill, 821 W. Broad Street, and Italian Romanesque Methodist church just one block west (1018 West Broad Street) contemporary with the most dramatic change to the borough, the railroad of 1856. A flurry of Italianate building occurred in response to its initial arrival, with 37 (2.6%) in the Quakertown Historic District, including the first portions of the Bush House Hotel at W. Broad and Front Street again signaled by low, bracketed roof and even fenestration; an easy transition to style for the previously conservative rural town. In order to sustain its commercial presence, the old town Main & Broad corner received an Italianate store, the Charles T. Leitch Pharmacy on its SE corner (1236 West Broad Street), likewise three stories, evenly fenestrated and accented with a bracketed cornice.
The post-Civil War railroad boom solidified these smaller growth pockets into one town with the annexation of Richland Centre in 1874. The prosperity was celebrated by the demonstrative styles of the Victorian era, starting with Second French Empire, prominent in appearance although small in number, 7 or 0.50/0. The remodel of the 1827 Strawn House into the Globe Hotel on Broad between the railroad and Belmont with the 1875 Mansard roof was an immediate response. Examples occur individually, including 813 W. Broad Street and along the newly emerging Juniper Street, on the NW corner with 11th Street (52 South 11th Street) and closer to the railroad at 215 Juniper Street. Houses are now commonly built of locally manufactured brick, or frame from lumber transported by rail.
Elements of the Gothic Revival style were easily adopted by Victorian builders in the last two decades of the 19th century, in part due to the acceptance of the style by the mainly German population. Steep roofs with front cross gables and full-length front porches gave the Victorian Gothic homes visual distinction and extra living space; the popularity of these attributes evidenced by 260 examples (19%). The cross gable conveniently joined the two halves of twin (or double) houses into one visual unit matching the preference for a large, square presence on the streetscape, whether in brick, stone or frame. Formalized examples occurred on corners, such as at 3rd and Juniper (44 South 3rd Street) and large vernacular versions defined the new neighborhood expanding along Penrose, Ambler and Erie Avenues, as well as side streets between Juniper and Broad. Infill houses in older sections, such as along South Main Street, also featured the cross gable to punctuate the Georgian regularity (11 and 17 South Main Street). The majority of these houses maintain a rectangular footprint and similar fenestration spacing as their predecessors. True to the conservative tendencies of the population, these Victorians lack excessive ornamentation.
Concurrent with these noticeable styles are a substantial number of vernacular, mostly frame single and double homes based on favored Georgian and Federal forms of three and four bays wide and one or two piles deep, with standard gable roofs, front shed porches and minimal ornamentation. These can be seen filling out blocks along Juniper and Third, as well as in the several blocks east of Main Street, i.e. Juniper and 9th, 10th and 11th Streets (1004 to 1020 Juniper Street), and in the Hellertown Avenue vicinity (22 to 30 South Hellertown Avenue and 217 to 231 Franklin Street). Built principally during the 1870-1890 decades these comfortable residences are characterized with 2/2 window sash, occasional shutters and rear kitchen ells. While undistinguished, and in some cases modified with modern materials, these homes provide the backbone of the streetscape rhythm that is vital to Quakertown's cohesiveness.
The stylistic freedom enabled by the continued prosperity of the late 19th century railroad era, coupled with an edge of competition with other growing boroughs between Philadelphia and Allentown, offered the ripe opportunity for the Queen Anne style to give Quakertown an eye-catching distinction. Additions to the Bush and Globe Hotels featured the tall towers crowned with peaked roofs (since removed on the Globe). Number 18 Front Street, an elaborate frame Queen Anne, was clearly visible from the railroad. The style was used to full benefit on large corner lots, such as Penrose Street and East Broad Street, flanking 8th and Juniper and on end corners of newly appearing row houses at Broad and Elm and Tohickon Avenue. Some elaborate Queen Anne's occur along Juniper and Broad Street streetscapes such as 813 Juniper Street and at 6th Street, their design and towers offering visual interest while continuing the pattern of massing and setback. 1225 W. Broad Street reintroduces stone to the building repertoire, while the Moorish inspired twin gables of Lucky's tavern opposite at 1222 W. Broad Street may have contrived to attract customers. Houses along Juniper between 5th and 6th (507 to 523 Juniper Street) and at 217 Juniper offer in frame and brick a pleasant vitality of continued railroad influence. Single and double examples of Queen Anne, coupled with groupings of row houses in this style again show popularity in numbers, 274 or 20%.
Perhaps the most dramatic, yet simplified, interpretation of the romanticism of Queen Anne evolved into Romanesque and emerged in the crenellated tower and stark medieval stone mass of the 1897 trolley barn and station at 108 E. Broad Street. More typically, the Quakertown National Bank building on the southeast corner of 3rd and West Broad Street, demonstrates the convenience of the 2nd Renaissance Revival rectangular block form and Romanesque features to dress large commercial buildings in maturing boroughs.
The simplification sought by turn-of-the-century styles is reflected in the building stock generated by continued borough growth enhanced by the trolley. In particular, groupings of substantial brick and stone row homes appear throughout the town, featuring corner Queen Anne towers, Dutch gambrel cross gables, Flemish stepped gables, Colonial Revival pediment portico breaks in full-length porches, Romanesque arch door surrounds and segmental arched windows that blend into solid substance quality housing for the middle-class working families. While the largest number of these groups occurs along Juniper Street other collections are located in every quadrant of the district. Red brick, yellow brick with accents of red and locally popular black Richland granite give these row homes a solid appeal. Most range from eight to ten connected units. The cross gables and pediment entrances echo the rhythm of the single-family homes that share the streetscapes. While the pre-Civil War groupings were most often clusters of three units, the turn of the 20th century ranges often include eight to twelve units. The scale of each unit, from 1,100 to mostly 1,800 square feet, equal to very comfortable, single-family homes, characterizes these buildings as a part of Quakertown's look of substance and quality. Many retain original porch and gable details and materials.
Classical Revival of the turn-of-the-century, while minimal in numbers to the Quakertown Historic District, adds great distinction along the commercial streetscape, such as with the 1920 portico addition to the Free Press building of 1868 (312 West Broad Street). The colossal scale Doric columns and temple pediment can be found also on the large brick home at the SW corner of 3rd and Juniper. More often the appeal of this style is seen in the round columns and porch details of the contemporary homes and row houses. The Neo-Classical bank building on the corner of W. Broad, Branch and 3rd Street (245 West Broad Street, Quakertown Bank) follows in the appropriate tradition for most small towns to adopt this refined, formal cloak of classical security for the local growing economy.
The northeastern end of the district, along Hellertown and Tohickon Avenues and Ambler Street, was laid out in 1906 and expanded in 1924 as Tohickon Heights and contains the principal concentration of early 20th century Prairie inspired American Foursquare homes (76 or 5.4%), both as single and double homes. The square footprint, solid masonry construction and broad, overhanging hipped roof had obvious appeal to Quakertown's building traditions. These also occur as occasional complements along 19th century streetscapes, such as the 1914 A. Oscar Martin designed the Ferdinand Sommer Residence at 34 10th Street. Likewise, commodious Craftsman Bungalows (97 or 7.5%) in Prairie and Dutch Colonial styles blend easily with similar placement, setback, sizable proportions and front porches. Brick and stone Colonial Revival homes (89 or 6.4%) are found with more frequency in the spacious, campus-like sections of the district extending out 7th Street and along Park Avenue, sharing the neighborhood with several generations of schools, ball fields and the 1930 hospital (St. Luke's Hospital). While these northeastern and southwestern sections of the district have a slightly more open and relaxed appearance of 20th century spacial development, they are punctuated by 19th century homes, row houses, service and manufacturing buildings reinforcing the Quakertown Historic District's blend of age and house types as well as identity. Most of the early- and mid-20th century housing stock retains very good integrity of materials and craftsmanship.
Development through the mid-20th century was at a slower pace, and occurred essentially as in-fill to blocks not completely developed heretofore. The mainly brick homes are a mix of 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 story and Colonial Revival inspired, several can be seen on West Broad and on 7th street, which grew in usage with the construction of the new high school in 1929. Concurrent with this central shift in town activity was the construction of the 1937 Colonial Revival brick post office on the corner of Broad and 5th streets, that featured a modillion cornice and large fanlight over the door as well as the more modestly classical borough hall (1938-1974) nearby at 326 West Broad Street. Ranch (20), Tudor (29) and Cape Cod (2) (total 3.6%) influenced single-family homes, generally of brick or stone and 1-1/2 stories high, complete gaps in side street streetscapes, as well as with more frequency in the high school and hospital neighborhoods.
Hints of Art Deco and International stylistic influences of the 20th century distinguished factory and commercial store facades from residential. In particular, Art Deco motifs of corbelled cornices with bas-relief plaques or moldings gave larger, flat or low pitched roofed factories, movie theatre and show rooms visual interest, such as Fronheiser's Bike Shop (28 8th Street), ca.1935 Best Made Hosiery Factory on 5th Street, the Palace Theatre (since 1971 Diming's Electric) on Branch Street and the ca.1915 Karlton Theatre on West Broad. Commercial buildings along Broad Street could achieve an up-to-date, modern look with large plate-glass windows simplifying storefronts such as Sine's Department Store 236 W. Broad Street. Older enclosed porches were replaced with one-story brick and glass retail spaces (200 E. Broad Street). Additions or empty spaces along commercial avenues also received these spare glass and masonry buildings, car dealership at 211 E. Broad Street and offices at 408 W. Broad Street. The blocks along Broad from Hellertown to the railroad tracks, as well as between 4th Street and 5th Street demonstrate this trend, although the strength of the surrounding 2-1/2 story buildings diminishes the impact of the change in scale and fenestration. With a total of 22 buildings classified in these styles, the percentage is 1.6% of the district.
Small "corner" stores and businesses occur with frequency within residential blocks, most noticeable along Juniper Street with combined commercial and residential buildings on corners 9th, 5th and mid-block at Gugliandolo's 1214 Juniper, 312 Juniper, and on 8th Street next to Fronheiser's (28 South 8th Street). Local service stores occur along East Broad as well as out North Hellertown Avenue with A.C. Sine's Poultry. Most demonstrate an end-gable orientation or parapeted false front (312 Juniper and 8th streets), while still maintaining the scale and rhythm of the domestic streetscape.
The twenty-two industrial buildings are totally commingled with residences and occur throughout the district. Small-scale industry was a part of Quakertown's earliest formation with the Lester Tannery on the 1400 block of West Broad Street, formerly with a "bark house, beam house and currying shop, with 37 vats..." (Bucks County Intelligencer, 9/10/1832) and refitted with steam in 1857, although outmoded and replaced with the ca.1911 silk mill that currently continues the site's industrial function. The traditional mill form is still evident with the Strawn mill near 9th and W. Broad of 2-1/2 stories on a raised basement, stucco masonry (brick) walls with a standard gable roof and evenly spaced fenestration. Large, consolidated factory buildings began to appear in the mid-19th century soon after the arrival of the railroad. The most common form is the three-story (in some cases two stories plus a very high raised basement), rectangular brick building with a nearly flat roof, either with eave or gable orientation to the street and even fenestration. Among the earliest existing are the Suelke Cigar Factory, ca. 1869 near the railroad at Park Avenue and Front Street and Quaker City Harness works, 1889, one mile from the rail at Main and Juniper. The latter replaced operations in the older Continental Hotel and maximized the corner lot amid the large, gracious, generational Main Street homes. The Suelke Factory, positioned facing the railroad, is early for cigar factories and is therefore more domestic and conservative in appearance, 3-1/2 stories high with a standard gable roof, gable end chimneys and smaller, 6-bay, 2-pile scale.
The Grauley Cigar Factory, one block east of the rail line, later Allen & Marshall, was adapted for R.M. Taylor Furriers, while maintaining its long, 14-bay eave oriented street facade. The length of the building is enhanced with the attached row house on the end dominating the corner of South Hellertown Avenue and New Street. The cigar factories, later clothing manufacturers, such as Reninger's Men's Trousers (1929-1970) at Erie and Belmont (49 Belmont Avenue) show modifications by the end of the 19th century for skylights at the top story incorporated into the roof. Reninger's and the Great Valley Mills (114 Front Street), use the parapet false front to give a rectangular profile to the gable facade. Most factories have a raised first floor approached by frame, stepped porches and windowed basements accessed by storage doors at street level. The large brick factory that replaced the Lester tannery site in 1911 is among the last of the three-story format, built in two sections, the second portion being 18 bays long with colossal scale brick pilasters to reinforce the walls between the evenly fenestrated windows. A transition to one-story factories with a larger ground footprint appeared during the middle decades of the 20th century, Best Made Hosiery on 5th Street, factories along Hellertown Avenue and on side alleys off Tohickon Avenue. Most are still brick, some with decorative front facades, however the smaller operations, such as ca.1926 Lewis Brothers contracting and millwork, are frame and traditional in design with gable roofs and standard sash windows and cross-buck garage doors. A number of the industrial buildings within the Quakertown Historic District still function in manufacturing, and, even if currently dormant, retain much of their functional integrity.
Three schools are within the Quakertown Historic District, representing educational style from the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. The first, the ca.1830 Friends' plastered brick, traditional one-room schoolhouse with wide gable end entrance and three-bay eave side, served in a private capacity associated with the meeting. The 10th Street School, ca.1880, repeated the stucco masonry, and typical gable end street orientation on a much larger, 2-1/2 story building with even domestic fenestration, 7-bays long and three-bays wide on its gable front (9 South 10th Street). The importance of this public building is hinted at by the Gothic pointed arched windows on the front facade, topped with a modillion cornice with returns. This building is in current use as the United Friends School. The vast improvements to public buildings generated during the 1920's is expressed in the seemingly monumental 7th street school completed 1929. The grandiose statement of modern educational facilities is made by its expansive scale, over 300 feet long and 100 feet deep and 30 foot high two stories enhanced by colossal scale pilasters between industrial size windows. The brick construction, traditional even spacing of the muntined windows, patterned belt course panels and contrived water table and set-back from the street ease the school into the domestic surroundings. While not a school, St. Luke's Hospital, originally Quakertown Community Hospital, repeated this modern large facility concept in 1930 when it opened its doors on Park Avenue. Three stories high on raised basement, the 13 bay flat-roofed institution with a Neo-Classical entrance was far more conservative in appearance than the school, being brick with domestic sized 1/1 sash windows in even fenestration, again maintaining a residential allegiance. More recent expansions and remodeling to the original building, while maintaining a competitive edge in the health care industry, have altered the core to a post-modern, non-contributing appearance.
The churches within the Quakertown Historic District span three centuries of religious architecture, as well as from small neighborhood-based chapels to regional institutions. The spare domestic design of the Quaker meetinghouse continued to serve the Society of Friends when they rebuilt their ca.1740 meetinghouse in 1860 into the present building on South Main Street. Typical of the century-old design, the current house of worship has two eave entrance doors (for men and women) and evenly spaced large sash windows on its six-bay facade. It has a modest pitched gable roof, stucco exterior and low-profile hoods to protect the entrance doors. Dark contrasting shutters and door hinges provide eye-appeal to the modestly plain building with the only stylistic hint being the semi-circular window in the gable. The 1860 decade saw two more churches constructed in the borough, the Methodist church on West Broad near 10th Street (1018 West Broad Street) and the St. John Lutheran Church, 1865, facing 10th near West Broad (21 South 10th Street), both establishing the gable entrance, long nave rectangular plan of vernacular churches of the ecclesiastical movement. Tall stained glass windows along the side, oversized entrance doors and, with St. John church, the bell tower and pointed steeple call attention to these buildings amid the domestic streetscape. Both of these churches maintain smooth exterior facades with consistent materials.
During the last decades of the 19th century, however, Gothic church principals took on Queen Anne influences, represented by the 1st Reformed Church designed by Milton Bean, 1894 at 415 West Broad Street near 5th Street. Rusticated stone first level transitions to brick above the eave line for the height of the large cross gables, the two, asymmetric towers further defined with wood shingles, louvers, crockets and spires (modified slightly by its transition to offices after the congregation moved to 4th Street and Park Avenue in 1964). A contemporary and similarly styled United Evangelical Church stood on West Broad closer to the railroad, and featured the stone and brick wall materials, asymmetric placement of the tower with peaked spire. This succumbed to fire in 1947.
Small chapels at 317 and 424 Juniper Street match the scale and footprint of the adjoining houses while distinguished by the gable front orientation and tall windows, the 317 Juniper Evangelical Church, originally Bethel United Methodist Church, then Bethany Mennonite Church (1899-1979) being especially well preserved with original wood siding. A slightly larger brick chapel was built on 3rd Street between Juniper and Broad, serving Mennonite and Brethren congregations. Another small Gothic chapel was built in 1886 for the Roman Catholic congregation of St. Isidore's by the Rev. Henry Stommel and stood near 6th street at West Broad. The growth of this parish required the replacement of the chapel in 1953 with the present brick church that follows the traditional, gable entrance, long nave plan familiar with churches built a century previous (531 West Broad Street). Collegiate Gothic was preferred for the Trinity Lutheran Education building, built in 1945 behind the 1893 solid brick Romanesque church on the southwest corner of Hellertown and Erie Avenues. The congregation chose to replace the brick church with a suitable match to the stone Gothic education building in 1962 with a new church building across Erie Avenue, and while non-contributing due to age, the well-designed, beautifully matched buildings now compliment the streetscape near late 19th century homes and brick factories.
The two cemeteries (contributing) within the Quakertown Historic District are associated with the first church locations, namely adjacent the mid-18th century Friends' meetinghouse and the mid-19th century Lutheran church. The Quaker burial ground fills nearly the entire block, defined by the ca.1906 Richland granite stonewall and graced by tall trees and modest markers in the front of the lot. The rear, western lit portion of the cemetery served the African-American population of Quakertown from the 19th century, noticeable with more demonstrative gravestones. The second cemetery is more centrally located between 9th and 10th streets along Juniper, encompassing one half of the block towards West Broad and the St. John's Lutheran Church property. This cemetery is simply defined by a wrought iron hairpin fence along the sidewalks and streets, grassy lawn and tall trees, punctuated by mostly granite markers of similar modest design. Conveniently a large florist business, established before 1922, with greenhouses is located adjacent along 9th street, behind the St. John's church property.
Outbuildings characterize the many unnamed alleys throughout the district, their design generally directly corresponding to their associated houses. Earlier buildings are 1 to 2 stories high, of vertical board siding, built to accommodate a horse stable, carriage/wagon and hay on the second level. Many smaller outbuildings also served as chicken houses. Lots developed in the early-to-mid-20th century exhibit the transition to automobile garages, generally masonry, one-story with a gable, gambrel or pyramid roof to complement the house design. Occasional multi-unit garages appear in denser neighborhoods, such as between Ambler Street and Penrose Street. Many of these outbuildings were modified or built larger to incorporate home industries. The presence of the outbuildings throughout the district contributes to the rhythmic pattern of building distribution and also to the compatible variety of style and function of the district's resources.
Fifteen structures are identified in the Quakertown Historic District, twelve of which are contributing. Two gazebos complement houses from the 1890's, in particular at 401 East Broad Street, visible from Penrose is a rusticated, octagon with peaked roof echoing the tower on the house. Another gazebo was recently added to a small park adjacent the Burgess Foulke House off North Main Street. Four automobile bridges, all of which are continuous span, concrete encased steel beam bridges cross the Licking Creek in the district, two of which are contributing at North Main Street (ca.1931) and North Hellertown Avenue (ca.1940) and two more recent replacements on North Ambler Street (formerly an Oscar Martin ca.1921 bridge) and at 9th Street. One remaining pier from the trolley bridge crossing over the railroad tracts stands on the east side, at the rear of the property adjoining the Globe Hotel and matches the bold Richland Granite construction of its contemporary trolley barn. The weigh scale associated with the railroad freight station was identified in the previously listed National Register nomination for the station. The rail line right-of-way and tracks beyond the registered station property are counted as one structure, as well as one oil tank. The Alumnae Athletic Field, with two period brick entrance gates and two stadium stands established 1937, are counted as four structures. The 1906 massive stonewall on two sides of the Friends Burial Ground is another structure. Adjacent this wall, along Park Avenue, is the one non-contributing object, a 1966 monument dedicated to the Quakertown firefighters.
Non-contributing resources within the district comprise only 8% of the total inventory, the majority of which are residences on in-fill lots throughout the district. Most noticeable are some newer homes, single and double, two-story frame, in the North Hellertown Avenue and Mill Street vicinity. Individual houses, late Cape Cod, Ranch and two-story Colonial Revival, mostly brick, take up individual lots in older neighborhoods. As such the newer construction continues the traditional pattern of rhythmic building location along the streetscape, as well as reinforcing the strong continuity of tradition and active use demonstrated throughout the borough. The most dominant non-contributing resource is St. Luke's Hospital (Quakertown Community Hospital) due to the post-modern additions and remodeling of the original 1930 building. Portions of the form and fenestration of the original section can be seen from the rear, parking lot approach. The strength of the early-to-mid-20th century neighborhoods surrounding the hospital, including intermittent 19th century houses, modifies the impact of the hospital complex (main building, parking lot and ancillary buildings). In addition, the brick construction, setback, three story height and landscaping eases this large scale building into the campus-like surroundings.
The district encompasses the majority of the borough of Quakertown, with a strong build-out before 1957. Within the Quakertown Historic District boundaries the only major losses are the Bethel Evangelical Church (Branch/W. Broad St.) by fire in 1947 and the two schools on 6th Street, the Central, 1880, and Lincoln, 1911, deemed obsolete and demolished with the construction of the 7th Street High School in 1929. The Franklin School (in use from the late-19th century to 1958), the elementary school on Franklin Street, was significantly altered into apartments after being replaced by Neidig Elementary and is considered noncontributing. Likewise, the Sommers Cigar Factory on Juniper Street at 10th Street was substantially modified into office and medical facilities, with changes to windows and siding and is now counted as non-contributing. Several pre-1922 houses were removed along 11th Street with the expansion of the hospital complex, the majority relatively intact sites that are now parking areas. Near the intersection of Main and Broad Streets are two sites that formerly held 18th century log houses, the Lancaster House at 1307-1313 W. Broad Street and the first log house, the Morris Morris House, ca.1712, at 1017 W. Broad Street. Both sites have later buildings (the latter ca.1770) erected on the early house sites, minimizing total archaeological potential. The site of a pre-1922 double house is now an access drive for a former automobile showroom at 1323-1325 W. Broad Street. Additionally, in this neighborhood is the site of a small, ca.1875 town hall building that was indicated on 19th century atlases. But abandoned with the construction of larger borough facilities closer to the railroad. This narrow vacant lot is still owned by the borough. All lots that are vacant due to demolition are considered noncontributing sites.
Outside the boundaries of the district, but near the commercial town center was the Quakertown Stove Works, demolished as a part of the Urban Renewal program in 1968, to make way for an in-town shopping center. The large brick Colonial Revival styled Quakertown National Bank and Borough Hall buildings built in the 1970's, fill in an area next to the shopping center once occupied by the Art Deco Derstine's garage (similar to the Palace Theatre), also adjacent to but outside the district. Several buildings near the junction of West Broad and Branch Street were removed during street and parking improvements to the downtown. In spite of these changes, the commercial areas of Quakertown, principally West Broad, but also portions of East Broad and Main Streets have maintained a high percentage of their historic building inventory. These changes have sought to retain the vitality of the downtown core, while not impacting greatly on the historical resources. Outside the narrowly defined commercial areas the bulk of the district demonstrates a strong residential character that incorporates social, religious, commercial and industrial facilities to give a complete picture of borough life. With contributing resources at 92%, the district provides an excellent chronicle of the historical development of the town and a strong visual representation of the classic residential hometown community.
The Quakertown Historic District, located in the upper portion of Bucks County, Pennsylvania is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the areas of Transportation, Politics/Government and Community Planning and Development and, also, in the area of Architecture. Located along the principal highway leading from Philadelphia to Allentown and Bethlehem and the crossroads from upper Montgomery County to the county seats in Newtown and Doylestown, the town flourished in a large, flat plain formerly Richland Township, in an area broadly surrounded by challenging terrain of rocky hills, strong streams and extensive swamps. Settled by Welsh Quakers from Lower Gwynedd Township (Montgomery County) by the 1720's, Quakertown maintained a strong connection to communities in central and upper Montgomery County resulting in a unique blend of Quaker and German business entrepreneurship, architectural design and town planning. Preferences for large, solid buildings, encouraging industry to stimulate employment and economy and the egalitarian placement of mixed uses throughout the town are features of this population. Described as "a natural trading center for Milford, Springfield, Richland, Haycock and Rockhill townships" (Thomas, Byron H., 1941 Quakertown Directory; Quakertown, PA: J.L. Ducillier publisher, page 78) the town was positioned to easily grow to be the largest borough in upper Bucks County. With the arrival of the train in 1857 and the trolley in 1897 Quakertown's regional place in the transportation network garnered it the reference "The Hub of North Penn" (Ibid.). Drawing on preferences for solid Georgian and Federal proportions, the solutions to the late 19th and early 20th century population growth resulted in distinctive Victorian Gothic, Romanesque and Queen Anne doubles and row houses as well as singles in the Prairie, Foursquare, Craftsman and Colonial Revival styles throughout the town and in the region's first large residential subdivision. Surrounded by independent rural populations in the late 18th century, the early village was involved in activist events, including being the focal point for the Fries Rebellion, an uprising against a federal tax on properties that resulted in a presidential pardon of the death sentence for the convicted leader. The mile long district contains 2,401 resources of which 92% are contributing, allowing the town to convey a sense of time and place through its period of significance from 1734, when the Lesters established a tannery and buildings, to 1957, shortly after trolley ceased and the new high school came into service. Representative examples of architectural styles throughout this period sympathetically coexist by consistent spacing, setback, scale and fenestration to create a cohesive, livable town with a strong sense of identity. The Quakertown Historic District reinforces the previous National Register listings for the Quakertown Passenger and Freight Station (2000), Liberty Hall (1978) and the Enoch Roberts House (1986).
The immediate area of Quakertown, and extending to the southeast, was known in the 18th century as the "Great Swamp." Positioned between strong geologic ridges to the north and south, this broad plain of trap rock and clay is characterized by level ground with fertile soils, once the surface waters were drained. Attributes of this area were identified by Welsh Quakers who began receiving patents by 1710 and traveling up the Provincial Road (Bethlehem Pike, now Route 309) out of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, established the first log meetinghouse ca.1721 just south of the borough. By 1730 a meetinghouse was built at the current site within the district. Early settler families such as Lester, Foulke, Morris, Allen, Phillips, Roberts and Penrose contributed to the foundations of a village, the Lesters establishing a tannery ca.1734 along West Broad Street, marked by their stone home finished by the turn of the century. Buildings during the 18th century appeared along the Provincial Road, Main Street (visible with the log house 137 S. Main Street) and at the crossroads with Broad Street (the Swamp Road leading to the county seats of Newtown, later Doylestown, by 1737) and were principally log construction (as above and with the Lancaster House, a well-known log dwelling that stood until 1891 near the NW corner) (MacReynolds, George, Place Names in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Doylestown, PA; Bucks County Historical Society, 1955, p.321).
The Red Lion Hotel was established at the southwest corner by the mid-18th century to serve local travelers, as well as those traveling the nearly 60 mile distance from Philadelphia to the Moravian settlements in Bethlehem, and later the expanding towns of Allentown and Easton. During the Revolution this intersection saw important traffic in and out of Philadelphia, including the movement of the Liberty Bell out of the city to secrecy in Allentown. On September 23, 1777, the bell was hidden behind the small stone home of Abel Roberts (Liberty Hall, 1237 West Broad Street) during an overnight stopover. In 1793 Jacob Fries petitioned to continue the publick house kept here "for a great number of years" and referred to the location as "Quakertown" in Richland Township (Bucks County tavern petition #1602). Five years later the inn was the focal point for a rebellion against a Federal tax on property lead by nearby Milford auctioneer John Fries, who was sentenced "to be hanged at the Red Lion crossroads" (Detweiler, C. Norman, Souvenir 100th Anniversary of Quakertown, Pa., 1855-1955, p.10).
While development was somewhat sparse during the 18th century the crossroad's strength of local community was established. William Green opened a store and post office, confirmed in 1805 as Quakertown, on the NE corner of Broad and Main. The Quaker presence for nearly 80 years reinforced the interest in quality, not only in business practices and in building construction, but also in fostering education and learning with both a Quaker sponsored school, ca.1742 (MacReynolds, p.321) and the Richland Library. The latter was founded in 1788 and officially chartered in 1795 (3rd oldest in Bucks County, 7th in PA, and housed since 1911 at 44 S. Main Street). The dominance of the Quaker population into the 19th century was identified by the fact that the Quaker meetinghouse was the only religious institution in the town until two Lutheran churches were built in 1860.
By at least 1810, district elections were held at the Red Lion Hotel (BC tavern petition #2004) , and Quakertown was the acknowledged rest stop for travelers from Bethlehem to Philadelphia. Such importance was underscored in 1826 by residents of Bethlehem, Northampton County, in their petition to support Jacob Kern as tavern keeper, "for the accommodation of travelers and strangers ...the mail stage from this place (Bethlehem) to Philadelphia passing thro Quakertown every other day and said town, being the breakfast place going to, and dinner station coming from the City..." (BC tavern petition #3566) and also "frequently are necessitated to spend the night" (petition #3565A). The permanence of the settlement by these first decades is reflected in the large homes, some associated with trades, travel services or professions, from the first several decades of the 19th century clustered principally along Main Street, although still maintaining a rural character. Estate sale advertisements from 1828 and 1832 for properties of the Lester family describe large stone houses, four rooms to a floor, in the village of Quakertown, with 10 to 13 acres, outbuildings and tenant houses (Bucks County Intelligencer and General Advertiser, 12/29/1828, 9/10/1832). The population was now a blend of Quakers and Germans, principally Lutherans, migrating up along the Bethlehem Road, as well as filtering in from Milford Township and other points west. By 1832 the town was described as "a small, neat town of a single street, containing 40 dwellings, 2 stores, 3 taverns and a Quaker Meeting House" (Detweiler, p.11 from Gordon's Gazetteer).
While the identity (and definition of size) of the village centered along Main Street and West Broad, another crossroads cluster had formed by 1800 one mile east along East Broad Street at the Hellertown Road to become known as Richland Centre. This latter road (now Route 212) split off from the Provincial Road south of the town, then traveled northeastward to the important Durham Iron Works and productive settlements in the limestone region of Springfield Township. Eagle Hotel, ca.1795 & 1832, (201 East Broad Street) and the Globe Hotel, ca.1827 (E. Broad Street and Belmont Avenue) previously the home of potter Jacob Strawn, are near this intersection, with older homes interspersed within several blocks, such as the Heller Homestead (320 Heller Road near Tohickon Avenue) and the Benjamin Roberts House (405 E. Broad Street). Before mid-century Charles Walp started a boot and shoe manufactory at 122 East Broad Street (Potser, Pilecki, Bosworth, Images of America, Quakertown, Arcadia Publishing, 2002, p.44).
In 1855, the original town was substantial enough to be incorporated into a borough, and was assessed with 388 acres and 45 town lots (W.J.B., "A Visit to Quakertown," Bucks County Intelligencer, 3/16/1859). With the arrival of the railroad in 1856, taxables increased to 112 with 62 dwellings and two years later to 198 (Ibid., & Detweiler, C. Norman, Souvenir 100th Anniversary of Quakertown, Pa., 1955). Contemporary accounts celebrate the improvements generated in response to the railroad "The railroad, which passes along the east line of the Borough, is doing much business...the Quakertown station is said to be the best on the road between the city and Freemansburg. There are two coal yards already established, and two lumber yards, one already commenced by R.R. Green, and a great quantity of country produce is taken from the platform in the cars...There has been much improvement in our Borough since its establishment. We have a number of good and well finished brick houses and other buildings, a large and substantial stone steam mill with four pair of stones, a machine shop for the manufacture of threshing machines, and a large saw mill not yet completed...Mr. Thomas Snyder of Philadelphia, is about erecting a splendid hotel at the Railroad Station. The main building is to be about 50 feet square, with an additional adjoining one 20 by 30 feet. It will be four stories high and will surpass any thing of the kind in that section of the country." (Bush Hotel at Front & Broad) (B.C. Intelligencer, 3/14/1857, 9/8/1857)
The path of the railroad ran through farms just to the west of the Hellertown Road intersection of Richland Centre, outside the limits of the established borough. An account of 1859 observed "The railroad is located one mile east of the village — not as near as it might have been desired; but the citizens of the place seem to have made up their minds, that inasmuch as the railroad would not come to their village they will extend the town to the railroad...the road from the station to the center of town has been macadamized — wide and graded and well entitled to the distinction of avenue." (B.C. Intelligencer, 8/23/1859) With the steam mill at 9th Street generating a smaller nucleus of growth, this avenue, now West Broad Street, easily served to connect the two hubs. In August of 1860 it was reported "The borough of Quakertown continued to hold the first place among the improving villages of Bucks county. About twenty houses have been erected since the beginning of this year. Two churches both of them Lutheran, are now in progress, near the site of the old Tabernacle. The business done at the railroad station is constantly increasing. The space between the old-settled portion of the town and the railroad is divided into lots and is rapidly filling up with dwellings." By November it was observed "Since January last twenty-four dwellings, many of them first-class three story brick houses, and two churches, have been erected in that borough." (B.C. Intelligencer, 8/14/60, 11/6/60). By 1868, the Quakertown Building Association was formed and efforts were underway to build a large hall to contain meeting rooms on the upper levels, for formalized groups to meet (3/17/68, 11/3/68). September 6, 1872, Richland Centre was included in expanded boundaries of the borough. This logical annexation of Richland Centre "seemed to have been accepted as a matter of course. This addition makes a handsome accession to the population and extent of the borough. Richland Centre has one hotel, one lager beer saloon, wholesale liquor store, flour and feed stores, hay press, coal and lumber yard, carriage shops, boot and shoe manufactory, &c" (B.C. Intelligencer 1/13/1874)
The sense of progress and growth of industry characterized the town, with a population of 1,800 by 1880. In July of 1879 the town reported on its industrial establishments "Few towns in our county have more manufacturing interests than will be found here: one stove foundry, two planning mills, one bending factory," one steam flour and saw mill, one steam hay press, two horse power hay presses, one large shoe shop, a score of cigar factories, &c" (B.C. Intelligencer). Henry Sommer consolidated over 100 cottage size cigar producers into one large factory at 10th and Juniper in 1867, building it into a major producer of cigars (10.5 million cigars in 1887, Potser, Pilecki & Bosworth, ob. cit., p.39, 40). The stove foundry (formerly near the center of the district at 4th and W. Broad), established 1865, was of particular note, employing 65 workmen and capable of producing 100 stoves per day, principally sold in Philadelphia (B.C. Intelligencer 7/21/1874). A regional creamery also opened in July 1879 (B.C. Intelligencer). A large silk mill was built at the site of the 18th century tannery on West Broad, west of Main. Organs were manufactured by C.F. Durner & Son at the corner of Juniper and Front, across from the railroad from near the end of the Civil War well into the 20th century, garnering highest honors at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia (Potser, et.al., p.38). Another nationally recognized business was established in 1878 as the Quaker City Harness Company near the Red Lion Inn, moving to its new brick factory at the corner of Main and Juniper in 1886 (Potser, et.al., p.37). Public works were also evolving during the late 19th century, first with water supplied by experimental artesian wells and evolving by the 1890's with an electric plant (1892), as well as town fire company and road department. (Ibid, 2/6/1897) By 1899, telephone service was brought to the borough, supplementing the telegraph in service since 1866 (B.C. Intelligencer).
The arrival of the trolley on June 11, 1898, to Quakertown brought renewed growth throughout the first several decades of the 20th century. By 1900 the population was 3,014, an increase of 1,200 in just twenty years. Initially the Quakertown Traction Company offered service to nearby Richlandtown and was seeking to expand to several surrounding towns. The dominant, castle-like granite trolley barn on East Broad near the railroad attests to the aspirations of the company. However, a competitor, the Lehigh Valley Transit Company, opened the lucrative "Liberty Bell Route" first to Perkasie, then connecting to Chestnut Hill and provided passenger access to and from Philadelphia up until September 6, 1951. Numerous, substantial row house blocks were built to meet the initial boom in residents facilitated by the proximity of factories and transportation. The trolley also encouraged a growing commuter population and the "area's first large housing subdivision," Tohickon Heights, was touted in 1906 papers (Quakertown Free Press, 4/26/1906), extending out North Hellertown Avenue, with additional expansions laid out in 1924 (BC Plan Book 1, page 185).
The crisscrossing of the rail and trolley lines throughout the borough reinforced the continued strength of manufacturing industries, shifting from cigars, stoves and harnesses to principally clothing products in silk, wool and furs throughout the mid-20th century. In 1935, R.M. Taylor Furriers had its start, adapting the Allen & Marshall (formerly H.B. Grauley) Cigar Factory and row houses to accommodate its manufacturing and storage facilities, to become the largest fur coat maker in the state (Potser, et.al., p.42). Newer industries filled larger tracts in the central portion of the borough, including the Best Made Hosiery factory on 5th Street as well as in the vicinity of 4th and Mill Street. Automobile dealerships began to locate throughout the town, in relatively small facilities directly along the streetscape with large plate glass windows, such as Johnson & Biehn at 211 East Broad Street.
The town population continued to grow steadily through the first four decades, again adding over 2,100 from 1900 to 1940. The civic responsiveness of the borough council to provide and upgrade "modern" services and utilities, the constant attentiveness to provide quality educational facilities and the broad, avenue-like, development plan of the town allowed Quakertown to easily transition into the all-American "hometown" of the mid-century. The centralized location of the schools began with Central School 1880, then Lincoln School 1911, standing side by side on 6th Street between Park and Juniper (since demolished), followed by the large high school completed by 1929 on 7th Street. This school building continues to serve lower grades, with the 1937 high school athletic field nearby at 8th Street and Park Avenue. The current high school, built 1956, is located on the edge of the district at 600 Park Avenue. In 1939 eight acres were purchased for baseball fields and public recreation as Memorial Park on the north side of the borough along Mill Street between 4th and 9th streets (adjacent to the district) (Potser, et.al., p.93). Civic activities also located in this core area, including the borough hall and fire company #1, receiving a new building in 1938 (in use until 1974, 326-330 W. Broad Street). The Post Office building, designed by Louis A. Simon, was built centrally at the corner of 5th and West Broad Streets serving the community from 1936 to 2000.
With the advent of the automobile and trucks as commonplace means of transport of people and goods, the main road from Allentown to Philadelphia, Route 309, was rebuilt in the 1930's into a main highway and bypassed the borough, paralleling Main Street to the west (Road Atlas, Bucks Co., Pa., 1947, Pa. Dept. of Highways, Richland Township map date 1/26/1937). Over the next several decades, businesses began to locate along this route, part of the modern highway commercial movement of easy automobile access. Continued developments and improvements along this highway, coupled with a strong sense of community heritage, resulted in 1974 with the decision to move the historic Burgess-Foulke House from threatened demolition at its original site west of the Friends Meeting to its current site just north of the Main and Broad intersection. The building now serves as a local museum and headquarters of the Quakertown Historical Society as well as a fine representation of the town's early architecture.
The resultant competition of highway commercial to downtown businesses, coupled with the obsolescence of the large stove works in the town center, invited the borough council to seek Urban Renewal solutions to provide ample parking and convenience stores in the town center (Bossert, Ernest, Quakertown Annual Report, 1966). By 1966-68 the stove works, and several nearby houses and buildings were demolished to make way for the central parking lot and Quaker Village Shopping Center, followed in the mid-1970's by the large Colonial-styled borough hall and Quakertown National Bank This progressive choice to reinforce the downtown, despite this loss of historical fabric for one block on the north side of Broad Street and competition from adjacent Route 309 regional commercial services, has allowed the borough to maintain active businesses, churches, schools, and even industries within a broad network of substantial residential neighborhoods.
The socially conscious Quaker population, joined with the independent minded rural German settlers, coupled to allow Quakertown to serve in significant national events and trends of political influence during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Quakertown's advantageous location and sympathetic residents figured in the town's logical participation in events that were politically noteworthy, if not even dangerous. The first, and one in which the town takes great pride, is when the crossroads at the Red Lion Hotel, involving the inhabitants and a number of locations within the hamlet, served to assist with the secret removal of the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia during the Revolution. During the British occupation of the city in 1777, 200 patriots soldiers, fearing the Liberty Bell (and other city bells) would be melted down for the crown's ammunition, moved the bell in a caravan of 700 wagons out of the city, essentially up the Bethlehem Road, ultimately to be hidden under the floor of the Zion Reformed Church in Allentown. On September 23, 1777,the accomplices stopped at the Red Lion Hotel overnight, hiding the bell across the street behind the small stone home of Abel Roberts, 1237 West Broad Street (Liberty Hall, listed in the National Register 1/26/1978). The success of this venture would not have been possible if not for the understood cooperation and broad patriot sympathies of the local residents of the village.
Documented participation in Revolutionary War activities is essentially absent in this upper portion of Bucks County. Much farther to the east, close to the Delaware River, the Durham Iron Works provided munitions, as well as the famous Durham boats for the 1776 river crossing by George Washington. Thirty miles to the south, the actual crossing site is commemorated and troop maneuvering, hospitals, encampments and generals' headquarters are documented in Newtown, Upper Makefield Township, New Hope and Neshaminy-Warwick. While these latter maneuverings were a product of the major roads crossing lower and central Bucks connecting New York and Philadelphia, the path northward through challenging terrain and rural German populations was less advantageous militarily. Despite dangers, difficult travel and the metallic value that could help the Patriots also, this heroic action to save a symbol of our emerging country's freedom is remarkable.
The independent spirit in defiance of authority worked in a less patriotic way twenty years later when the U.S. Congress initiated a tax to fund an anticipated (but non-existent) war against France. The Federal Direct Tax of 1798, at times called the "window pane tax" or "hot water tax," assessed property, land and houses, both of owners and those renting. Rural portions of upper Bucks County, in particular Lower Milford, Rockhill and portions of Richland Townships were settled by German immigrants, so thoroughly as to maintain their own language and German newspapers. Being reminded of the oppressive "hearth tax" in their native Germany, many of these residents opposed the tax and refused to pay. Lower Milford resident John Fries was well known in the vicinity of Quakertown, being an auctioneer, as well as a cooper by trade. He led a number of armed men, up to 60, around the countryside harassing the tax assessors and making it impossible for them to complete their jobs. On March 5, 1799 Fries threatened assessors with a potential band of 700 men to take prisoners, this continued the following days into Richland and Quakertown, confrontations at the Red Lion Hotel resulting in threatening the assessors with death. Fries and his band then marched up into Northampton County to assist with the release of resistors arrested by federal marshals and held in Bethlehem. The number of resistors so outnumbered the marshals that the prisoners were released; however, the marshals notified President Adams in Philadelphia. A contingent of 1,200 troops was raised to arrest the leaders of the insurgency, including Fries. Fries, with several others, stood trial before a Grand Jury and was found guilty, in the words of Judge Samuel Chase, "It is almost incredible that a people living under the best and mildest government in the whole world, should not only be dissatisfied and discontented, but should break out into open resistance and opposition to its laws" (Adams, Harry, The Direct Tax of 1798, Upper Bucks, "John Fries and the Fries Rebellion," Bedminster, PA: Adams Apple Press, 1994, pp.234-239). Fries was sentenced to death, to "be hanged at the Red Lion crossroads" (Detweiler, ob. cit. p.10) on May 23, 1800, to set an example. President John Adams pardoned Fries and two other men two days before the execution.
"This was the first case of treason tried under the notorious Sedition and Alien Acts" (Adam, ob. cit. p.239). It brought to light the alien position of many German settlers, due to their distinction of lifestyle from the English. Locally it highlighted the reticent attitudes of the local Germans in contrast with their Welsh Quaker neighbors, the latter much more compliant with the new democracy, perhaps due to business associations. This rebellion was not the first of our new country, it followed the 1786 Shay's Rebellion in Massachusetts and the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania, but it drew attention to the dissatisfaction with over-taxation and the ease with which resistance could build into large numbers and violent action. The tax was not continued and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase was later challenged with impeachment (Adams, ob. cit., p.239). The Red Lion crossroads (Main & Broad Streets) figured both in the early stages of organized revolt, as well as the potential setting for the execution. A Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker commemorates the site.
Social sympathies fostered by the Quaker population were highlighted by several organized activities in the 19th century. Being on a main route northward out of Philadelphia, and at a convergence of three major escape routes, a number of residents, including potter, Richard Moore, participated in the illegal movement of slaves out of the South before the Civil War. Moore's home and well-known redware pottery at 401 South Main Street (PHMC archaeological site 36 BU60 just south of the district) has been long held as an important station, with Moore moving over 600 slaves along in pottery wagons (Potser, et.al., p.10). Such illicit and secretive activities required cooperation of the greater community, in this case the stronghold of Friends, to be successful. The Friends continued to assist the African-American population by allowing burials within their cemetery for members of a small African Methodist Episcopal Church located nearby (the frame chapel taken down during the construction of Route 309 adjacent), thus providing a physical reminder of this early offer of secretive assistance (Schroy, Ellen, interview 9/2009). The home of Henry Franklin, 131 S. Main Street, who was the runaway son of Jared Franklin, personal slave of Francis Scott Key, also stands testament to the safe community found in Quakertown. As such a station on the Underground Railroad, Quakertown is similar to Langhorne in lower Bucks County as an established town with a strong Quaker population and central meetinghouse located on the main road out of Philadelphia traveling north. As the only Quaker meetinghouse in the upper Bucks and Montgomery County region, this group of abolitionist sympathizers was strategically positioned to offer critical assistance for the movement of slaves northward, as well as a safe community for those wishing to stay.
During the Civil War, a school for soldiers' orphans was established at 107 South Main Street in a house built ca.1810 by Samuel Nixon, later ca.1818 a short-lived boarding school organized by Richard Moore and Thomas Lester. The orphans' school operated for a number of years around the end of the Civil War and was the object of gubernatorial interest. As reported in the Bucks County Intelligencer "Gov. Geary paid a visit to Quakertown, for the purpose of making an examination of the school for soldiers' orphans....He made a thorough examination of all parts of the school buildings and grounds. The school was not in session on that day, the pupils having been allowed a holliday (sic), but they were gathered together to the number of about one hundred and fifty, when they were addressed by the Governor, who told them they had become the children of the Commonwealth, that they would find a father in him, and that he had come to see if all the comforts of life were provided for them." (6/18/1867) While not as large as White Hall of Bristol College in Bristol Township, Bucks County (National Register), the school handled a sizeable student population during their years of need. The Underground Railroad and the Orphans' School, while not exclusive to Quakertown, illustrate the organized capabilities of the town to meet the needs of the oppressed and unfortunate, to a degree distinguished from surrounding towns in upper Bucks County and even (in the case of moving slaves) in spite of the potential risk of livelihood.
Quakertown has been distinguished with the listing of the 1906 Railroad Passenger and Freight Station in the National Register of Historic Places, both for architectural design and importance enhancing transportation along the line from Philadelphia to Allentown. Additionally, the town itself has figured prominently as the transportation nucleus of upper Bucks and Montgomery Counties, garnering the title "the Hub of the North Penn" (1941 Quakertown Directory, J.L. Ducellier, Quakertown, PA, p.78). It is the focal point for roads, rail lines and trolleys that have and continue to serve the entire upper Bucks and Montgomery County region. The compelling importance of the transportation path through Quakertown has overridden the geographic and political boundaries of Bucks County, causing the town to have greater allegiance, business ties, and similar cultural habits to Montgomery County. The steady growth of the town has been in direct response to the opportunities afforded by transportation, often being in the lead of maximizing such potential. Quakertown preceded other regional towns in having rail and trolley service up and running, and in ordering its growth accordingly. This is particularly evident with the commercial core of the town flanking the railroad path. Additionally, the town's continued prosperity during the first half of the 20th century was greatly facilitated by the operation of trolley service, which continued until 1951 to Philadelphia. Attempts by the Quakertown Traction Company to be a regional service supplier are still visible in the majestic trolley barn that dominates East Broad Street. The singular advantages of Quakertown's nucleus of transportation are touted even today as borough officials observed the town is "sitting between Allentown and Philadelphia and with all the avenues of transportation, such as Routes 309, 212, 313, 663 and the turnpike, you can get to anywhere from here." (Bucks County Herald, June 4, 2009)
The road network established in the first half of the 18th century continues to be the principal path through this region, from Philadelphia to Allentown (now skirting adjacent Main Street with Route 309) and from Pennsburg in upper Montgomery County via Route 663 then Route 313, Broad Street, directly southeast to Doylestown and points beyond. Additionally, Route 212 begins near the train station to lead to the northern corner of Bucks County along the Delaware River and the former Durham Iron Furnace. The importance of the routes, in addition to city and county seat destinations, are the main paths to successfully negotiate through geographically challenged areas and as such are nearly exclusive in providing necessary and efficient transportation through this region.
Specifically, the broad, nearly flat region of Richland (at roughly 500 foot elevation) is bordered to the south and southeast by the "Great Swamp," as referenced even by the earliest settlers and cartographers. Helping to form this swamp is a strong geologic ridge that stretches from Montgomery County almost entirely across the upper portion of Bucks County. Characterized by steep hills filled with large diabase boulders, this ridge, called "Rock Hill" and its attendant Haycock Mountain (980 foot elevation) in its eastern portion, was generally viewed as undesirable, not tillable, and offered substantial travel problems. Soon after the Walking Purchase of 1737 a road was defined to wind through this hilly, rocky area to reach the newly formed Moravian settlements in Bethlehem. Adding to the travel difficulties were several large and often turbulent streams, the most notable being the Tohickon Creek. This first road needed to cross this creek before passing between the edge of the swamp and through the boulders just west of Haycock Mountain. In less than twenty years another parallel road to Bethlehem, the Provincial Road coming from the Ambler vicinity through Montgomery Township, through a pass of the Rock Hill, near Bunker Hill to the broad plains of Richland, avoided the Tohickon Creek crossing, was recognized as the better path. This path continued northward around Flint Hill and South Mountain and on to both Bethlehem and, soon after, the newly established Allentown. Perhaps anticipating, understanding and encouraging this importance, a group of Welsh Quakers from Lower Gwynedd had begun settlements in this flat, productive "Richland" thirty years previous, with a meetinghouse and tannery business established by the 1730's. With the enhanced importance of this road, the area bristled with potential and very shortly a request for a tavern was made. Moravian advancements in industry and education encouraged steady stagecoach trips from Philadelphia to Bethlehem, soon establishing the Red Lion Hotel as the logical stopping point, as described in the above references as the breakfast stop to the city and the dinner stop on return. In 1753, the crossing was described as "on the Provincial Road leading to Philadelphia and by the road that leads to Durham from" Lower Milford." (BC Tavern Petition #457).
For this northwestern portion of Bucks County, the Swamp Road, Route 313, established to Quakertown by 1737, was the necessary path southeast to the county seat in Newtown, and after 1813 in Doylestown. Again difficulties traversing the swamps around Paletown and over Rock Hill tended to isolate this upper portion of the county, allowing it closer associations with communities in Montgomery County along the Provincial Road. The Swamp Road, also known as Broad Street, joined the Provincial Road, also known as Main Street at the Red Lion Inn. Roads skirting through hilly portions of Milford Township to the Pennsburg settlements of upper Montgomery County and further into Berks County also met near the Red Lion. With developing interests for iron in Durham and lime in Springfield Township another road was struck off the Provincial Road, the Hellertown Road, now Route 212 that offered this north corner of the county access to Philadelphia. California Road, the northern extension of Main Street, likewise served the upper Richland, western Springfield and eastern Milford Township, as well as portions of Northampton and Lehigh counties with a connection from these remote rural areas to Philadelphia markets.
Quakertown became the necessary pass through for much of the surrounding population to markets, natural resources, industries and large cities with business, educational and cultural institutions. News and ideas traveled along the main stagecoach line with the Red Lion, established ca.1750, being the principal stop in Quakertown. Typical for hotels on stage lines, the building featured two story porches with views down Main Street. "By an Act of Congress of 1805 probably the first post route in the county was established from Bristol to Quakertown..." (MacReynolds, p.321), coming into the borough along Broad Street. In spite of the postal connection to Bucks County communities, the strength of the Bethlehem Road connection to Montgomery County reinforced continued business and familial links to communities to the south and west, in particular the Ambler family of Ambler (David Ambler owner of land around Ambler Street at the time it was developed, ca.1870's), Quakers in Gwynedd and the multiple German Lutheran and Mennonite populations of Rockhill, Franconia Township, Salford Township and Upper Hanover Township. Thus religious and cultural bonds were maintained, and resultant patterns of development and lifestyle were reinforced.
Quakertown surpassed other villages and towns on important transportation routes due to the dual importance of the Bethlehem Road and the road to Doylestown. Springtown to the east in Springfield Township developed in the 18th and early 19th century along two routes leading from the Durham Furnace to Bethlehem, Quakertown and Newtown. Once Doylestown replaced Newtown as the county seat and the furnace diminished in importance, the more direct path from Philadelphia to Bethlehem through Quakertown was preferred over the winding Route 412 that had to skirt around a substantial hill defining Bucks and Northampton Counties. Sellersville and Perkasie are two boroughs located just to the south of Quakertown also along Route 309 and the railroad paths to Bethlehem. They are set on the lower slope of the "ridge," a substantial geologic change in elevation that worked to limit expansion. While progressive towns that sought to encourage growth, the cross roads were not as well traveled or direct, in particular the path to Doylestown was not efficient, diminishing the ultimate importance and growth potential for these towns in comparison to Quakertown.
With the significant road network established through Quakertown, the railroad served to reinforce and expand the town's importance as a travel hub. Contemporary observations noted "The Quakertown station is one of the most important on the road, and the freight and passenger business is daily increasing. We presume we can safely venture the prediction that Quakertown is destined to be a great business place, if her people keep alive to the facilities afforded them" (Bucks County Intelligencer, 8/23/1859). Initially, transportation by rail enhanced rural production and supply to Philadelphia, evidenced by the numerous hay scales, meat and livestock dealers. "The hay pressing business is going on quite extensively at present, at Quakertown. Two different parties are employed at the business. They pay about $20 per ton to the farmers for hay delivered at the presses." (BCI, 11/19/1863) In 1865, it was reported that "a large amount of hay is being shipped from Quakertown this winter. Nearly 100 tons a week...as much as 5,000 gallons of milk have been sent from Quakertown, in a month, during the winter." (BCI, 1/17/1865). The railroad facilitated dealers in livestock, in 1871 dealers reported about 3,000 head of cattle were traded, many brought in from the state of New York (BCI, 12/ 19/1871) and by 1879 "An immense number of cattle are now being shipped to this place for sale" (BCI, 10/4/1879). This business continued into the 20th century with Fred Fisher's Canadian and Wisconsin Dairy Cow Company, on 4th Street, dealing in cattle throughout eastern United States. Butchers and meat shops near the railroad also did an active trade such as Hager Brothers Meats, from 1897 to 1947 at 2nd and West Broad. (Potser, et.al., p.45)
Supply demands of the Civil War also increased business, "Henry G. Hedrick, of Quakertown, has entered into a contract with the Government to manufacture five thousand sets of infantry equipments. He wishes to employ about thirty harness-makers, to whom good wages will be given" (BCI, 7/7/1863). Heavy manufacturing was enabled by rail transport, and within a decade of its arrival, the stove foundry was established in 1865 and the organ factory soon afterwards, both businesses gaining statewide repute. The consolidation of cigar manufacturing from cottage industries started in 1867 and flourished with large and small operations, the proximity of the rail line allowed cigar production, such as H. Sommer Co. from 1867 until 1937, to outlast many other areas (Poster, et.al., p.40). The competitive benefit of the rail line was noted in 1871 "the removal of the extensive cigar making establishment of Bamberger & Co. to Quakertown has given a new impulse to business in that locality. The principal manufactory of this firm was formerly at Milford Square, three miles west of Quakertown, but the location for business was not so desirable as the latter place on account of the distance from the railroad. The establishment, whose headquarters is in Philadelphia, is a very extensive one, and gives employment to several hundred persons in Quakertown and the surrounding country." (Bucks County Intelligencer, 12/19/1871) The coal brought in from the Lehigh region and points further north, enabled businesses, factories and ultimately Quakertown's own electric plant, which produced electricity free to the residents from 1895 until 1971 (Potser, et.al., p.35). The street lighting system was a model for other communities "it is a flattering testimonial to...Quakertown...when councilmen and others from so many sister boroughs and towns come to us to obtain and adopt our plan of street and commercial lighting." (Doylestown Intelligencer, 12/22/1898)
The connection established by Route 212 to Springfield and Durham Townships and further to Riegelsville Borough on the Delaware River became another avenue for rail service. The Quakertown and Eastern Rail line was established in 1896 to serve these remote rural areas, functioning under different names until operations ceased in 1936. No other rail lines served this expansive rural region of upper Bucks, as well as the lower portions of Lehigh and Northampton Counties. The advantages were highlighted "The people of Springtown, Richlandtown and other towns along the route are delighted with the new road, as it affords them an easy outlet to the main line of the North Penn. It is also a great convenience in the matter of freight, which formerly was carted from Quakertown or points on the Delaware and Belvedere railroad (New Jersey). The people of Quakertown are looking forward to the time when the Northeast will be a valuable feeder to the town, especially if the road should be extended to Easton and connection made with the great trunk lines centering there." (Doylestown Intelligencer, 11/17/1898) The fact that the line was built from Quakertown east, rather than following down Route 412 and 611 to Doylestown suggests the elevated significance of Quakertown as the active station for the upper Bucks region and building on transport patterns well established for over a century. Strategically, while both towns saw the arrival of the train in 1857, Quakertown surpassed Doylestown as the choice path for the rail line coming out of Philadelphia to connect to the industrial Lehigh Valley. Even with the Easton Road, Route 611, leading straight through Doylestown, the town became the end of the rail line into Central Bucks. This diminished the latter town's ability to avail itself of the natural resources, coal and iron, etc. being shipped from the Lehigh valley, thus reducing the amount of industry potential and expansion in that town.
Following on the heels of the railroad, and seeking routes and opportunities not accommodated by the railroad, the trolley was initiated with the Quakertown Traction Company in 1896, traveling the length of the borough on Broad Street and then out to Richlandtown Borough to the northeast. The aspirations of this company are evident in the large stone medieval Romanesque trolley barn on East Broad near the railroad. Additional physical remnant of the trolley is the stone bridge pier, built in 1898, behind the Globe Hotel that supported a metal bridge to carry the trolley high over the railroad tracks. The electrified trolley could climb the steep approaches and thereby offered regular transport throughout the town as well as to outlying regions. Initially, service ran through the borough and out to Richlandtown, and by 1900 the newspaper reported the anticipation of a "lively spring and summer business" and a new car that "will make 14 cars in use on the line — seven open and seven box cars. The company is preparing to run their cars through Perkasie..." (Doylestown Intelligencer, 3/13/1900). Fifteen months earlier, in December 1898 the company was securing rights-of-way from Perkasie and eastward through small villages on to Doylestown. The logical Montgomery County connection, in this case to Lansdale, had been proposed, but interested parties "thought that if this was done it would for a time deaden the spirit for a road connecting Quakertown and Doylestown, which...was more badly needed...this was intended to be a people's road...the great advantage would be to the workingman...the ticket costing two and a half cents for four miles. In Quakertown over 300 workingmen travel on the line a day...and had carried as high as 2,800 a day..." (Doylestown Intelligencer, 12/15/1898) The ultimate vision of President C. Taylor Leland of the Quakertown Traction Company was "the numerous lines that have been and will be built throughout the county will act as a feeder to this line and when this link was built it would form the longest line of trolley in the United States ...with also the intention to carry freight" (Ibid.). Newspapers from 1899 report Leland's meetings with the borough council of Doylestown in an attempt to secure right-of-way approvals. (Doylestown Intelligencer, 1/20/1899)
Competition was immediate, however, as reported in November 1898, "Another trolley project that is receiving some attention is the proposed line from Allentown to Lansdale. This is said to be a scheme of the Allentown Traction Company. The object is to reach Philadelphia..." (Doylestown Intelligencer, 11/17/1898) Ultimately this line, later the Lehigh Valley Transit Company, operated from 1903-1951, using the building on the northwest corner of Broad and Main for passenger stop and ticket sales. Also known as the "Liberty Bell Line," this franchise prevailed in securing the access down the Bethlehem Pike, with connections to Perkasie and Lansdale, and to Philadelphia, and provided principal commuter access to these major towns and cities with 200 trolley cars (Potser, et.al., p.31). With the loss of the passenger service to Perkasie, the Quakertown Traction Company abandoned its grandiose plans to connect to Doylestown and just continued to operate the trolley to Richlandtown until 1929. Nicknamed the "Tripper," cars were often decorated with bright lights and hired for private parties. (Potser, et.al. p.32, 33) The Tripper also ran a loop around the borough, connecting the east end by Hellertown Avenue with the west end along Main Street. This enabled factories and row houses for their workers to locate throughout the town. Within the first two decades of the trolley, numerous row house blocks were built. With the established link to Philadelphia, the popularity of the trolley grew for out-of-town commuters, and unique length of service in spite of the growth of automobile commuting, gave Quakertown a sustained growth, resulting in a pleasant suburban community by the mid-20th century.
Community Planning and Development
Quakertown is exemplary among Bucks and Montgomery County towns in successfully blending a previously established stagecoach town with a railroad-dominated community, and in blending industry, commercial and a variety of classifications of residential building types consistently throughout its boundaries. This progressive and pragmatic attitude toward growth and active provision of work opportunities and proper housing with modern utilities to "take care" of the growing local population, old families as well as new residents, is representative of the close-linked German and Welsh Quaker communities of this region. In 1942, it was observed that Quakertown's "public schools, grounds, equipments, faculty and educational facilities second to none in the county or State. The town is up-to-date in all civic respects, with a fire company, a community hospital, a woman's club, Kiwanis, Rotary, League of Women Voters and Richland Grange, patrons of Husbandry, to see that things move along smoothly towards the goal of a prosperous community life." (MacReynolds, p.323)
As with many towns in the Philadelphia suburban area, Quakertown was characterized by the typical mid-19th century self-consciousness as a progressive town when formed as a borough 1855. The natural trade advantages offered by the above mentioned strategic location of the borough amid a converging road network enticed the local businessmen and entrepreneurs to strive to literally put Quakertown on the map and competitively outdistance neighboring towns. When the railroad path was laid out nearly one-mile to the east of the established commercial road through the old town, Main Street, there was a clear, conscious effort to plan an orderly connection to Richland Centre. Above accounts document the improvement of the main connector, Broad Street, into an avenue and to create a grid of streets to accommodate the infill growth. While the joining of the two villages was not without some misgivings, and disputes over the location of the post office reigned for a time, residents in both areas contributed to the success of the whole, while maintaining identity of their respective areas. Provision of utilities was achieved by the end of the 19th century, ahead of many similar communities and some thirty years before the outlying rural areas. This was done with a matter of pride, in particular with the generation of electricity, provided at no cost to the residents, the in-town plant operating until 1971. With the extension of the trolley line out Hellertown and Tohickon Avenues, a new suburban neighborhood was laid out "Tohickon Heights" to provide an orderly growth with easy access to transport. Consistently efforts were made to infill open properties within the borough, maintaining conservative boundaries of the built-up town vs. the rural fields and meadows. This visual distinction of borough limits is evident even today, especially on the eastern boundaries, particularly out Erie Avenue. Conveniently, centrally located available spaces were utilized for 20th century municipal facilities, such as the borough hall, fire company, hospital, schools, ball fields and parks. The spacious, avenue-like character of the streets, with consistent spacing and setback of buildings, adds to the planned look of the town and belies the age of the borough. Coupled with the centralized services, this residential-styled neighborhood development created a pleasant living environment that continues to be a highlight of the borough today.
In addition to the broad streets and even spacing of buildings is the unique blend of a variety of property uses comprehensively throughout the town. It is perhaps the very spaciousness alluded to above that allows for the success of such a blending of seemingly incompatible resources. Within every quadrant, even nearly every block, of the town are houses, both single-family and attached, factories, stores and churches. This egalitarian placement of resources is more common to the German populations of upper Bucks and Montgomery Counties, perhaps a result of a pragmatic approach to lifestyle and landscape. English heritage communities of central and lower Bucks County tended to segregate industrial and factory operations, and their attendant workers' housing, to more distinct neighborhoods, reserving established, older areas for more genteel single family residences. Only in principally industrial villages, such as New Hope, are the homes of the property, mill and business owners intermingled with their own investments and operations. Additionally, the generally high productivity and success of agriculture in the central and lower portions of the county, on fertile lands that the English initially claimed, diminished the need for supplemental income, and into the 19th century, sustaining support for growing farm families. The generally poorer regions of upper Bucks and Montgomery Counties, filled with difficult shale and diabase rock, unproductive soils and swamps, were taken up by German cultural groups (and in some areas the segregated Welsh Quakers), who through hard work and creative industry, established farms and communities, soon filled with generations of large families. The close-knit family traditions, and need to support these families, coupled with ingenuity and technical prowess, resulted in the total acceptance of industry immediately located in villages and towns, adjacent to residences and shops. There was seemingly less class-consciousness, less of a view that industrial activity should be shielded from home life. Thus many towns in the areas principally settled by German and Welsh cultural groups, later to be labeled the North Penn region, grew quickly in the 19th century and accepted the natural blend of industry and housing side-by-side, taking pride both in commercial successes that offered needed employment, and efficient lifestyle of homes, schools, churches and stores within walking distance of jobs.
With the egalitarian distribution of building types and pragmatic approach to planning, Quakertown reflects the character of the German dominated communities of upper Bucks and Montgomery Counties towns, such as Souderton or the much smaller Blooming Glen in contrast to the stronger English influence of central and lower Bucks towns illustrated by Doylestown, Langhorne and Bristol. The nearest large town in Bucks County is Doylestown, located in the central portion of the county and serving as the county seat since 1813 (National Register Doylestown Historic District, 1985, roughly half the size of the proposed Quakertown district). Founded with a tavern ca.1745 serving an interstate crossroads, the town became solidly established with the arrival of the courthouse [see Bucks County Courthouse] one block from the tavern crossing, and was incorporated into a borough in 1838. The railroad line to Philadelphia was built simultaneous to Quakertown, ca.1856 and located 2-1/2 blocks (roughly 1/2 mile) from the main intersection and 1/2 block off of Main Street. While the town overall has a general air of prosperity and quality building, benefiting from the successful surrounding agricultural communities and strong English Quaker, Welsh and Scotch-Irish traditions as well as the professional attractions of the courthouse, the building stock retained a more segregated demographic. Unlike Quakertown, where industries, and row houses can be found in almost every square block, Doylestown's industries and denser (multi-unit) housing favor West Ashland and Clinton Streets, close to, or adjacent the railroad. Likewise, North Main Street, extending near to German settled Plumstead, maintained the appellation of "Little Germany," again distinguishing areas of residence by culture. Growth of the borough tended to maintain a steady path out from the initial core by the taverns and courthouse along the main arteries, rather than joining two villages, as with Quakertown. The commercial downtown of Doylestown extends over several blocks in depth and breadth, defined around the central core, vs. Quakertown with two smaller, linear commercial districts and noticeable businesses disbursed in between. Both Doylestown and Quakertown have a strong residential and solid build-out, although Doylestown lacks the huge, centrally located park and recreation areas that Quakertown has. Doylestown's streets are generally narrower, suggesting more density and greater age, vs. Quakertown's avenue-like spaciousness, enhanced by the fact that Doylestown is built on a broad hill.
Two large towns in lower Bucks County offer even more segregation in building type distribution, Bristol and Langhorne Boroughs. Bristol Borough (National Register, several districts) is the largest of the lower Bucks towns, and as a seaport along the Delaware River, saw industry from the early 18th century in the form of mills and ship building. The county seat until 1725 and the site of public markets until 1796 the town was accustomed to many cultures, enterprises and extensive transportation opportunities via the river, roads, canal (1830), railroad (1835) and trolley (1890's). From its beginnings in 1696 the town was the product of planning, from its first grid street core to adjacent neighborhoods planned and developed for specific purposes. While the main railroad from Philadelphia to New York skirted its northwestern boundary, the canal dominated commercial and industrial activity until after the Civil War. The Bristol Improvement Company in 1876 set out to attract large industries and build factories, clustered in a dense area near the canal and the railroad and at least three blocks away from the older developed core. Thus, the industry of the town was essentially contained to the area near the rail and canal lines, with adjacent neighborhoods of row houses filling back toward the river and the mansions along Radcliffe Street. Throughout Bristol's history there has been a hierarchy of class in its neighborhoods from residential riverfront wealth to working class housing several blocks inland, and also a distinction of function from commercial Mill Street, the industrial mill district from Pond Street to the canal and railroad, and even the early 20th century government shipbuilding village of Harriman on its northern edge. Bristol lacks the blending of use, activity and class category that Quakertown succeeds in achieving.
Langhorne Borough, incorporated 1874, and its adjacent Langhorne Manor Borough and Penndel Borough demonstrate a distinct difference from Quakertown, even while following a similar historic growth. Langhorne was known as Four Lanes End when it formed as a commercial and transportation crossroads in the first half of the 18th century. The ca.1738 Richardson's store and the Langhorne Hotel figured on this intersection of the road from Philadelphia to Trenton and New York and the road from Bristol to the 18th century county seat at Newtown. The Middletown Friends Meeting, established in the 1690's, built their meetinghouse ca.1734 two blocks from the intersection and was the focal point for the surrounding Quaker population. A solid village grew at this site through the 19th century; however, the path of the main railroad out of Philadelphia was placed one mile south in what is now the border of Penndel and Langhorne Manor. Penndel, incorporated 1889, assumed the industrial buildings and working class neighborhoods and grew rapidly with the arrival of the trolley 1896. Langhorne Manor, established 1890, was a planned neighborhood of genteel mansions on spacious lots that filled the space between the old town and the railroad. Each neighborhood maintained distinction of function, class and identity even into separate government entities.
Souderton Borough to the south of Quakertown along the rail line in Montgomery County could be considered a "sister" town, as both towns have many similarities. Both share the "upper" suburban Philadelphia German culture, principally early settlement Mennonite and Lutheran families. Both are located on the main rail corridor from Philadelphia to Bethlehem-Allentown. Both saw dramatic growth from trolley service also along this corridor. Both have demonstrative examples of industry in the town center, mixed with commercial and residential of varying types. But Quakertown grew into the larger town for several reasons, it had a sound growth base and transportation network established before 1850, it had a number of individuals involved in business and growth — not the smaller handful in Souderton, it had greater extended transportation links and its residents chose to join the Bethlehem Road to the railroad by encouraging town growth between the two. Souderton's growth was spurred by Henry Souder to locate the rail line on his property in order to develop a lumber business. While located roughly one mile from the important Route 113 and Bethlehem Road intersection (just over the line in Bucks County), that crossroads had not evolved greatly before the 1850's. Thus, little effort was made to encourage growth out to the Bethlehem Road, although the town eventually gravitated in that direction. Industry in Souderton tends to be located near or adjacent to the railroad, in more distinct areas than Quakertown. Also, the trolley, while instrumental in Souderton's accelerated growth in the early 20th century, did not loop through the town as it does in Quakertown, enabling more even distribution of factories and row houses in the latter. Souderton does demonstrate the German cultural acceptance of industry, commercial and housing in immediate proximity, as well as the progressive attitude to expand economic opportunities to meet population need. Souderton did become a commercial center serving the surrounding regions with the largest department store, J.M. Landis & Co., between Philadelphia and Allentown (Splain, Shelby W., Souderton Historic District, National Register Application, draft January 2009).
Quakertown is listed on the National Register for Architecture in that it demonstrates a building style preference characteristic of Welsh Quaker and German cultural groups of large, solid, nearly square proportioned buildings, preferably masonry construction evolving on Georgian proportions into vernacular interpretations of Federal, Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne and Craftsman (Prairie and Bungalow) styles. It also has a high concentration of very substantial masonry row houses of Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne and Romanesque styles that, while appearing occasionally in neighboring towns, are most characteristic to Quakertown and distinguish its streetscapes. Quakertown also represents the maturing borough of the late 19th-early 20th century of the Philadelphia suburban region with large three-story formal commercial buildings replacing vernacular, domestic styled shops in the principal downtown, in this case along West Broad between Front and Third. This maturation encouraged the work of regionally popular architects, with additional representational examples of churches and private homes at the turn of the century, most notably Milton Bean and A. Oscar Martin. The continued growth into the mid-20th century, coupled with the long-standing favoritism for substantial, square masonry houses, resulted in numerous examples of Prairie (Foursquare) and Craftsman styled homes, most notable throughout the middle and northeast portions of the borough. The high quality craftsmanship and design sensitivity of local building companies, answering to local preferences, is celebrated through many of these homes.
The easy blend of Welsh Quaker and German architectural preferences developed as the German cultural groups migrated through and settled in areas of initial Welsh occupation. While of English heritage, the Welsh were historically segregated from mainstream British society and in Pennsylvania were given distinct districts in areas outlying Philadelphia, such as Gwynedd Township, Montgomery Township, New Britain Township and Hilltown Township. Being a more isolated, practical, earth-bound society, the Welsh easily connected with the Germans coming into Pennsylvania through Germantown and seeking farm settlements beyond the city. The German tendency for large, square, well-built homes and lack of pretension with ground-level entrances and asymmetry, coupled with their willingness to work, quality building skills and need to feed large families found a connection with the Welsh. This contact resulted in a greater instance of large square homes, often with ground level entrances for the Welsh and greater symmetry in design and gable end chimneys for the Germans. The John Roberts House, formerly on Hartman Road in Montgomery Township (since moved to the Joseph Ambler Inn complex), is a large, square, five-bay, two-pile Federal inspired house that was originally entered close to the ground and is representative of the evolution of these combined influences. With the stream of migration and ideas moving through these Welsh and German settled areas of central Montgomery County into Quakertown, the architectural preference resulted in large, almost square masonry homes with symmetrical facades and practical interiors to accommodate large families and work functions under one expansive roof.
The Lester Tannery House, west of Main on Broad Street, is among the earliest documented houses in the Quakertown Historic District and exhibits the English influenced Penn Plan in its earlier western half. It is, however, slightly wider than most, namely three bays wide and two piles deep, resulting in a nearly square footprint. With its eastern addition by 1800, including the cooking fireplace, the house initiates the large deep mass of form that becomes popular with Quakertown houses of the formative Federal period. This large, square Georgian form is used by William Green for his ca.1805 store and house on the NE corner of Main and Broad, as well as with the ca.1814 Enoch Roberts and ca.1812 Burgess Foulke houses. The style continues to be the norm, either in exposed brick or stucco, as with the Roberts and Green houses above, evidenced by the Green Tree Tavern at 27 S. Main Street and the ca.1812 Richard Roberts House, 100 S. Main Street across from Juniper, and several others along Main. The Benjamin Roberts House on the eastern end of the district at 405 East Broad Street again offers square Georgian proportions in its three-bay stucco presentation. With a primarily Welsh Quaker population, during this first period of growth and prosperity, the houses presented a degree of sophistication with Federal detailing around doors, cornices, dormers, etc.
The growing German population approaching the mid-19th century, drawing on traditional lifestyles of their Mennonite and Lutheran heritage, initially influenced a very conservative stylistic approach to buildings, both in frame and masonry, emphasizing the square proportions, even Georgian fenestration with hints of Greek Revival flat lintels or Italianate bracketed cornices. This is seen in infill houses on South Main Street, and along Juniper Street and West Broad Street, both near Main Street, at 9th Street and near 3rd Street. The nature of the "swamp" or flat land with wet properties (most borough homes have wet basements, some with streams) altered the older German tendency for ground level entrances. Prosperity and cosmopolitan ideas that arrived with the railroad allowed the town population to relax conservative expression and embrace more fanciful architectural ideas. Additionally, the German penchant for steep roofs to cover their deep houses resulted in the popular use of Victorian Gothic throughout the borough. Reinforcing the Medieval heritage of the German culture was the asymmetry and towers featured in Queen Anne styled buildings. The latter style was strategically used on corners and more important buildings seen from the railroad, such as the Bush and Globe Hotels. Additions and modifications were made to the Bush Hotel by architectural firm Watson and Huckel in 1903. A few years earlier, 1899, Milton Bean made "extensive improvements to the Globe hotel...will be ornamented with a tower on the corner of the two streets..." (Doylestown Intelligencer, 1/13/1899). The preference for brick and masonry on rectangular, deep form prevailed.
While multi-unit houses appeared at least as early as 1835 with the frame Evan Penrose House at 133-135 S. Main Street, this second half of the century saw a rise in popularity for the twin or double house, with a Victorian Gothic cross gable on a steep roof to give the appearance of a large square single house. These are most evident along Juniper and in the Ambler and Penrose Street neighborhoods. Near the turn of the century, in response to the demand for increased housing that came with the trolley, blocks of row houses were constructed, with great substance and architectural detail in Victorian Gothic, Romanesque and Queen Anne styles. Predominant with these buildings was the poly-chromatic use of brick or the local Richland granite construction, with large square proportions being the norm for each unit. Deep porches and cross gables in gable, gambrel and stepped profiles reinforce domestic character and repeated the rhythm and pattern of the adjacent single and double houses. According to borough council records, the years 1910-1912 were particularly busy with the construction of eight groups of row houses from 3 to 12 units each, disbursed throughout the borough from Erie, 8th, Franklin, Elm and Juniper Streets (Cassel, p.130-133). Each unit is substantial in size, averaging 1,200-1,500 square feet, generally with deep rear yards and attendant garages facing back service alleys. The builder Jacob V. Stoneback with the firm Stoneback and Nase appear most frequently in the records for the construction of these rows. With local supply of materials, as from the Quakertown brickworks (out of town on Heller Rd.) or the Chauncey E. Stoneback Planing Mill and Sash Factory at Park (Strawn St.) and Front, later run by Harvey Stoneback, efficient construction could be achieved. With a total of 32 clusters of rows, including 195 units throughout the district, Quakertown is distinguished visually as well as in holding a regional place among boroughs of upper Bucks and Montgomery County for the number and quality of these house groupings.
The maturing borough at the turn of 1900 received the typical commercial upgrades found in many growing suburban boroughs such as the three story 2nd Renaissance Revival Quakertown National Bank building on the SE corner of 3rd and W. Broad and the Quakertown Trust Company within a decade in the Classical Revival style on the NE corner. Both of these styles rely on rectangular footprints, even fenestration and demonstrative classical details on solid masonry blocks. This rebuilding of the commercial block was important for Quakertown to maintain its status as a regional hub, with significance conveyed through physical presence. Such changes were illustrated by requests like that of Harry Hinkle in June 1910, "Hinkle asked permission to move his present frame building to the northeast corner of 3rd and Branch Street to be used as a store or dwelling house. He also requested that he could build a new brick building, a store, on the north side of West Broad, where the frame store was now located. The new building was to be three stories high, and measure 58 x 41 feet. Council approved this request." (Cassel, p.130) Souder's block, a three-story addition to the Bush Hotel with a tall Queen Anne peaked tower to anchor the juncture at Front and West Broad, was designed by the firm Watson and Huckel in 1903 to be eye-catching from the railroad, with its new 1902 rail station, and incorporated stores at street level. Oscar Martin's Neo-Classical portico addition to the Free Press Building became a hallmark of Quakertown's streetscape. These buildings defined the principal commercial district, and are similar, although not quite as large or prominent as found with large commercial blocks in other nearby towns. As mentioned above, Souderton's Landis Department Store block was much larger (largest between Philadelphia and Allentown) and garnered a critical location to give Souderton a visual identity. The Lenape Building in Doylestown, predating these above examples by a quarter of a century (built in 1875 by designs of Addison Hutton), and dominating the corner of Main and State, established the commercial importance of this center location.
Likewise, the Art Deco style, with its symmetrical basis, translated in these small town communities into smooth decorative motifs applied to front facades and espandana-like decorative cornices and low central pediments to hide nearly flat roofs and break the monotony of the long street elevations. Such a style was easily embraced by new venues such as movie theatres and auto showrooms, as well as modern factories, in part for its ability to decorate the large span buildings. Quakertown had three movie theatres in the early 20th century, the Palace (now Diming Electric, similar in appearance to its former neighbor Derstine Garage) with its masonry, tripartite Art Deco facade, the Karlton (adjacent the Free Press building) originally with the popular projecting marquee, and the Broad, an early adaptive use of the Quakertown Traction trolley barn. The simple triangular pediment along the false front was repeated on the one-story auto dealership and factory buildings such as Johnson & Biehn Auto (211 East Broad Street) and Best Made Hosiery on 5th Street.
With the expansion of the borough into the Tohickon Heights neighborhood, annexed by 1911, early 20th century residential styles established a visual presence, further repeated on open lots throughout the balance of the district. Local builders, such as Lewis Brothers, became proficient in the construction of substantial, generally masonry homes in Prairie, Foursquare, Craftsman, Bungalow and Colonial styles, popular for their generous square proportions. Again, the Prairie and Foursquare styles were easily adapted into double houses to meet housing demand at lower cost. Two or three average lots (size of 50' by 100') could then be joined with a double house to accommodate a larger home with sufficient allowance for side and rear yards, driveways and garages, such as the cluster of three Prairie style doubles on North Hellertown Avenue. Lewis Brothers Contracting and Millwork started in 1926 by Harold and Harry Lewis and are credited with 18 houses in Quakertown, as well as being a specialty millwork shop supplying other builders as well. Quality and substance is evident in their work, Craftsman Bungalows at 202 Tohickon Avenue, Herbert Lewis House, and on the corner of 7th and Juniper, Prairie inspired Foursquares on the corner of 8th and Broad and the John Smith House at 181 North Ambler Street near Mill Street and the attractive stone mid-century Colonial and Tudor Revival homes along Park Avenue, at 11th Street, between 11th and 10th (1000 & 1014 11th Street) and at the corner with 5th Street, the Harold Lewis House (421 Park Avenue)). Built through the 30's, 40's and 50's these houses were designed often without architect's plans but simply from client's input or copies of other houses. The firm also specialized in church construction throughout this North Penn region, such as Bethlehem and Trumbauersville, and rural locations. (Harold Lewis interview 7/9/2009)
Architects are credited with a number of buildings in Quakertown (PAB website), some with a single or handful of commissions, some, such as Milton Bean and A. Oscar Martin, with a more lasting impact. The Philadelphia Real Estate Record reported the firm Watson & Huckel making additions to the Bush Hotel in 1903. The Ballinger Company offered designs for the new hospital in 1927. Louis A. Simon prepared plans for the U.S. Post Office in 1936. Charles Middleton Talley (1894-1979), known for his church designs in the North Penn region, is credited with a design for the Church of the Brethren (possibly 44 S. 8th Street), the Russel Willaner Residence and Lewis Apartments, 1939 (both unlocated). Cronheim & Kuo designed the modern Provident Tradesman Bank & Trust Co. in the mid-1960's along West Broad between 2nd and Front. Many of these designs are only moderately distinguished in the body of 20th century architecture.
Milton Bean, a native of Lansdale, was active 1888-1914, and is most noted for his work in Ambler, with the grand Gothic Revival Mattison mansion "Lindenwold" and Trinity Memorial Church. He also designed important buildings in many suburban towns, such as Doylestown with the ca.1893 High School (burned), Souderton with the distinctive 1893 J.M. Landis & Co. building (commercial block), 18 Main Street; as well as churches in Telford and St. Luke's UCC, Dublin, PA (Splain, Shelby W. Souderton Historic District, National Register draft application, January 2009). His Quakertown works include the 1894, 1st Reformed Church, W. Broad Street near 5th Street, a Victorian Romanesque and Queen Anne blend with characteristic stone base and 1st level, continued above the eave with brick and fanciful frame and slate cross gables and steeple. The blend of stone and brick was similar to the Dublin church above and the United Evangelical Church ca.1897 that stood further east on West Broad Street, destroyed by fire in 1947. The newspaper in 1899 announced "Architect Bean, of Lansdale, is making plans for an extensive improvement to the Globe hotel, opposite the station. Mr. Moll will erect an addition 16 by 26 feet, three stories high. The attachment will be ornamented with a tower on the corner of the two streets. A reading room will be located on the first floor, while the rooms on the upper floors will be used as bed chambers. The addition will be of brick" (Doylestown Intelligencer, 1/13/1899). Bean also designed several residences in Quakertown, the ca.1888 brick J.J. Clark Residence on 217 Juniper Street east of 3rd Street, a brick Queen Anne that features a tower, and the Dutch Colonial Seth Fisher Residence, designed ca.1888 but not built until 1901 (205 E. Broad Street) (Philadelphia Record, PAB website). In 1911, with Franklin H. Bean, Milton applied to the borough to "erect a brick dwelling on north side W. Broad, east of J.S. Harley's." (Cassel, Pauline, Richland, the Manor, the Township and Quakertown, 1977, p.130) It was as much a matter of pride for the maturing town as the building owner for an architect to design its buildings.
Adam Oscar Martin of Doylestown (1873-1942), was active 1890-1940, serving first as a draftsman in other firms, including Milton Bean (1898-99). He was a popular architect working principally in central Bucks County, but with commissions (three) in Souderton, including the People's Bank and numerous cigar factories in Souderton, Sellersville and Blooming Glen. He was most noted for his residential designs that artfully blended Prairie, Colonial Revival and occasionally Spanish Revival motifs in comfortable square, Georgian proportioned masonry (stone, brick and stucco) homes. He also served as Bucks County's first county engineer, designing numerous bridges, both traditional stone arch and innovative concrete arch and encased steel beam designs. Documented works in Quakertown include a bridge ca.1921 (since replaced) over Licking Creek on North Ambler Street, the uncharacteristic 1902 Cressman building, a frame Colonial inspired late Victorian at 805 West Broad Street, the 1911 brick Prairie influenced Lincoln School (demolished), the 1915 Derstine Garage (demolished) which was a modest Art Deco two story automobile show room and repair facility that stood adjacent Diming Electric on Branch Street. He worked on alterations to the Quakertown Free Press building (formerly the bank and Sons of Herman, 1868 building, transforming an undistinguished Greek Revival building with the addition of the colossal Neo-Classical colonnade in 1922 that has been the hallmark of the Quakertown commercial streetscape, as well as alterations to the Charles Meredith (Free Press editor) Residence along Juniper near 2nd Street and to the 1924 Joseph Cavanaugh Residence, 808 West Broad Street.
The house that is most representative of A. Oscar Martin's style is the 1914 Ferdinand Sommer Residence at 34 10th Street, built for the owner of the famous cigar manufactory located on the adjacent Juniper Street corner lot. This home is the classic evolution of Martin's design sensitivity to regional preferences, as well as imbuing his penchant for understated substance. Martin captured the central Bucks preference for Colonial Revival with his stone and brick Georgian homes in Doylestown Borough and Wycombe village, built on a solid, symmetrical rectangular plan. His creativity in making Spanish and Prairie styles palatable to the conservative Bucks population is evident in the stucco William Geil mansion in Doylestown Township. For the Sommer House, Martin chose solid Georgian proportions in masonry with a stucco finish that complements the Federal homes of the old town portion. On the symmetrical base he placed a broad hipped roof with overhanging eaves and centered hipped wide dormer with banded windows to capture the spirit of the Prairie style. Horizontal visual lines are enhanced by the expansive wrap-around porch with smooth Doric columns. Sash windows (6/1) with dark shutters and a side sun porch are elements popularized with the Colonial Revival movement. Quality woods, gracious proportions, crafted built-ins and modern amenities make this nearly century home as appealing today as when it was built. The popularity of this design is repeated in other homes, singles and doubles throughout the town, either using the two-bay, Foursquare format (806 West Broad Street and several along North Ambler Street) or a broad three-bays with paired center door and corresponding 2nd floor windows for doubles (North Ambler Street and North Hellertown Avenue).
Quakertown maintains its distinction as the largest borough in upper Bucks County, and with 92% integrity of buildings from its period of significance 1734-1957 visually conveys a strong chronicle of its history and growth traditions as a focal point for this region. The physical presence of the Liberty Hall, Red Lion Inn and Quaker Meeting house serve as identity markers for important political events of the transport of the Liberty Bell to safety during the Revolution, the Fries Rebellion uprising against the Federal Direct Tax in 1799 and the Underground Railroad and Soldiers' Orphans School humane activities during the mid-19th century. The entire district conveys through its expansive growth during the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century the powerful influence of the railroad and trolley for the transport of goods, ideas and people. The sophistication of the railroad station and the trolley barn attest to the importance of Quakertown as a hub of transportation for a large region of upper Bucks and Montgomery Counties. The comprehensive distribution of resources, buildings and activities, namely residential, commercial, social, public and religious throughout the entire borough attests to the regional preference for egalitarian community planning to provide quality homes and work opportunities for the local families. The product of 150 years of conscious organized planning by the community is visually conveyed by large residential blocks, broad avenues, building setbacks and proximity of services. The architectural preference of the Welsh and German population for large, square, solid quality buildings is consistently demonstrated throughout Quakertown's two centuries of building stock, from the stone colonial and stucco Federal homes, to the Victorian large doubles and row homes, to the well built American styles of the 20th century.
The tenacity of tradition is evident with the long-standing businesses and activities that continue in the Quakertown Historic District. The main historical commercial district remains intact, including the Sine's Department Store in continuous operation since 1912 and Diming's Electric and Moyer's Shoes for over 50 years. Quakertown National Bank has served as the financial anchor for over 130 years. The Free Press newspaper of Quakertown, heralded by its iconic Neo-Classical building on West Broad Street, served the community from 1881-2009. The Red Lion, Bush, and Eagle hotels and taverns still operate under their original names. Schools from the late 19 century and from 1929 remain within the Quakertown Historic District to give cohesion to the town's complete picture, with sports events still held in the 1937 Alumnae Athletic field. The majority of factories remain, many still functioning as such. The traditional industry since 1734, Lester Tannery, the processing of hides, continued through harness makers of the 19th and 20th centuries, to R.M. Taylor Furriers and other tanning operations that are still present in the borough. Other businesses and traditional activities continue within the Quakertown Historic District including Lewis Brothers Construction since 1926, active churches and schools still within the district, most notable the Richland Friends and associated United Friends School since the 18th century, St. John's Lutheran church since 1865 at 10th Street and St. Isidore's Roman Catholic Church and School since 1886. With parks, public services, commercial, industrial, educational, religious and social opportunities all within walking distance of this large residential town the plans to reactivate passenger rail service in 2011 will help to reinforce the traditional town development that is the remarkable character of this historic district.
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Schroy, Ellen, Quakertown, PA, member Richland Friends Meeting & owner Evan Penrose House, telephone interview by K. Auerbach, 9/2009, notes on file Erwinna, PA.
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‡ Kathryn Ann Auerbach, Preservation Consultant, Bucks Preservationists, Quakertown Historic District, Bucks County, PA, nomination document, 2010, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
10th Street South • 11th Street South • 12th Street South • 2nd Street South • 3rd Street South • 4th Street South • 5th Street South • 6th Street South • 7th Street South • 8th Street South • 9th Street South • Ambler Street North • Ambler Street South • Apple Street • Belmont Avenue • Broad Street East • Broad Street West • Court Alley • Elm Street • Erie Avenue • Franklin Street • Front Street • Heller Road • Hellertown Avenue North • Hellertown Avenue South • Juniper Street • Main Street North • Main Street South • Mill Street East • New Street • Park Avenue • Penrose Street • Route 212 • Route 313 • Tohickon Avenue