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Philipsburg Borough

Centre County, Pennsylvania

Borough municipal offices are located at 4 North Centre Street, Philipsburg PA 16866.
Phone: 814‑342‑3440.

Beginnings [1]

Philipsburg's namesake is Henry Philips and it is he, with brothers James and Hardman, who spearheaded an impressive commercial and industrial boom period in the early eighteen hundreds. Henry Philips left England in 1790 to open a branch of the family shipping business in Philadelphia. On behalf of his company, Philips purchased over 200,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Kentucky. He hired Polish civil engineer Charles Trcziyulny, who selected the best site for a new community. He chose the east side of Moshannon Creek in Centre County, because it was elevated, not too steep, had an ample water supply, and would soon have a state road passing through the area. Built in 1796, the road is known as East Presqueisle and North Front Streets. Henry Philips arrived in 1797 and named the new settlement Moshannon Town.

Philips recruited residents by offering the first twelve settlers a town lot and four acres out of town to farm. He built a grist and lumber mill on Cold Stream, located northeast of the historic district. With brother James he built a log home at Pine and Front Streets and a log barn further north on Front St., the state route. After Henry died in 1800, James briefly succeeded him in managing the fledgling town. In 1807, during James' tenure, John Henry Simler built the house at 100 North Second Street — Philipsburg's oldest extant residence. The log cabin, designed in a vernacular side gable fashion, was sheathed over in clapboard before 1850. James' other brother, Hardman Philips, arrived in 1810 and began a more intensive effort to increase population and establish industry.

Hardman changed the name of the settlement to Philipsburg in honor of his family's efforts. In 1813 he abandoned his brother's log cabin, moving to a large parcel outside of the settled area and building a rambling mansion known as Moshannon Hall or the Big House (later Halehurst). This well preserved Georgian style building, with intact historic interiors (National Register of Historic Places, 1978), occupies 41 acres comprising 40% of the historic district's total acreage.

  1. Dailey, Jonathan E., Philipsburg Historic District, nomination document, 1998, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.