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John Roebling House

Saxonburg Boro, Butler County, PA

The John Roebling House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1]


The John Roebling House was built sometime between 1832 and 1835. It is a 2-story frame and brick structure covered with aluminum siding. It has a partially exposed basement, overhanging eaves with a wood cornice, small attic and a tin roof. The floor plan indicates a central hall with rooms on each side for both floors. It is basically a 3-bay house with 6-over-6 fenestration with the exception of the attic and the lower right front bay. This bay has been altered and has an additional 6-over-6 window on each side of the original window. The front doorway consists of a panel and glass door with a transom headed by a bracketed overhang.

To the rear of the house is a 2-story addition (c. 1904) with attic addition which does not run the full width of the main section. This section is of similar fabric as the main section and has a slanting roof.

The Roebling Shop (1841) is a one story, gable roof, frame structure covered with clapboard and topped with a tin roof. The floor plan consists of a central hall with a room on each side. The entrance has a recessed light mullion with a raised panel door. The interior of the shop shows exposed beams and timbers with plaster walls.

In 1974 the Roebling Shop was moved 150 feet but still remains on its original lot. The shop was moved because of traffic and drainage problems.

The house and shop are about two blocks distant. It was felt that the house and the shop could best be handled as one entry for two related buildings for the National Register.


John Augustus Roebling, founder of Saxonburg (1832) and noted civil engineer, was born in Germany in 1806. He was schooled in architecture and engineering. He organized a group of family members to immigrate to America and consequently settled in Butler County, Pennsylvania.

After forsaking farming as a profession, Roebling sought employment on state canal projects. While working on these projects, Roebling developed the method of stranding wires to form a stronger and thinner cable to replace hemp that had been used on canals and railroads. The process was developed and reached fruition at his shop in Saxonburg in 1841. Roebling applied his cable to suspension bridges and related industrial uses.

As Roebling became involved in architecture and bridge building he opened a factory in Trenton, New Jersey. Roebling is noted for building several bridges, including a suspension bridge over the Niagara River, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Roebling died (1869) due to complications of an industrial accident incurred while supervising construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Roebling House and Shop gain their significance from Roebling's single most important discovery, the stranded steel cable. Although the house and shop do not possess outstanding architectural merit, it was here that he lived, developed, and manufactured the first stranded steel cable. The importance of the stranded cable in turn had far reaching effects on the transportation industry and systems in this country and the world.


History of Butler County, Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Company, 1883.

Brandon, J. Campbell. A Concise History of Butler County Pennsylvania. Butler: The Eagle Printery, Inc. 1962.

Shank, William H. Historic Bridges of Pennsylvania. Buchart-Horn Consulting Engineers and Planners.

  1. Dunlevey, Office of Historic Preservation, John Roebling House, nomination document, 1971, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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