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I M J '| V i| BR |°Ni Ll n RARy
THE JUNIOR LEAGUE
Present Property Owners
Four Hundred and Five Mr. and Mrs. Albino Ferrari
Four Hundred and Seven Mr. Duane Stegman
Four Hundred and Eleven Miss Sarah K. Snyder
Five Hundred and Twenty-two Susquehanna Group
Five Hundred and Twenty-eight Susquehanna Group
Five Hundred and Thirty-one L. C. Myers, R. F. Eberhart, R. F. Schramm
West Fourth Street Corp.
Five Hundred and Thirty-five Mr. and Mrs. Michael J. D'Addio
Six Hundred and Thirty-four Bishop of Scranton in Trust for Parish
Six Hundred and Thirty-nine Harry Georges
Seven Hundred and Seven Bishop of Scranton in Trust for Parish
Seven Hundred and Eleven Homer Groce
Weightman Block McLaughlin, Smith, Mann, Patterino
Park Home The Park Home Incorporated
Eight Hundred and Twenty-nine Donald R. Bastian
Eight Hundred and Thirty-five McCormick, Lynn, Nichols, Reeder & Sarno
Nine Hundred and One Dr. and Mrs. George A. Durrwachter
Nine Hundred and Four Mr. and Mrs. Earl O. Ohnmeiss
Nine Hundred and Twelve Mr. and Mrs. Ralph S. Clinger, Jr.
Nine Hundred and Fifteen Misses Lillian and Emilie Harrar
Nine Hundred and Twenty-one Mr. and Mrs. Howard C. Masters
Nine Hundred and Forty-two Mrs. Margaret A. Newcomer
Nine Hundred and Forty-four Mr. and Mrs. Thomas E. Harris, Jr.
Nine Hundred and Fifty -one Estate of Mrs. Alice Gibson Voelkler
Ten Hundred and Five Mr. and Mrs. Harold L. Hurwitz
Ten Hundred and Twenty-two Miss Martha Mussina
Ten Hundred and Twenty-five. Mr. and Mrs. B. C. Rothfuss
Ten Hundred and Twenty-eight Mr. and Mrs. John W. Kranz
Ten Hundred and Fifty-one Mr. and Mrs. Dominic J. Santalucia
JAMES V. BROWN LtBHARY
©The Junior League of Williamsport, Inc. 1975
Printed by Grit Publishing Company
Library of Congress Catalogue Number 75-1672
First Edition Limited to 1,000 Copies
of which this is Number *j (p
We dedicate this book to the home owners of
the "great thoroughfare" . . . past, present
and future . . . whose lives carve the Heritage
of West Fourth Street.
The Junior League of Williamsport, Incorporated is proud to publish this historic
edition of The West Fourth Street Story. The interest of the general public and the
enthusiastic community response to the League's lecture and slide series prompted the
publication of this book. Those originally involved in the formulation of the slide lecture
include: Mrs. Allan N. Young, Jr., Mrs. Charles M. Snyder, Mrs. Lewis M. Soars, Mrs.
Marshall Welch, Mrs. Charles R. Stearns, Mrs. C. Welsh Hartman, and Mrs. Henry G.
The property sites were selected on the basis of their relationship to the lumbering
era, resident personalities, architectural significance and their location on "Millionaires'
Row", West Fourth Street. The property owners are to be given generous thanks for
opening their homes to be photographed and themselves to be interviewed. The
cooperation and encouragement of so many residents within the community have made
this edition a reality. Without the assistance of all interested persons the committee would
not have been able to proceed with the publication. As progress is being made to preserve
current historic structures, we have included several by-gone landmarks. These pages
were made possible by the preservation of valuable photographs and memorabilia saved
by many local historians.
There are others who are to be commended for their efforts.
Mrs. Thomas Marble for her current photographs and reproductions of historical
photographs and documents.
Samuel Dornsife whose historical knowledge of Williamsport, its homes and
residents, clarified much of our printed material.
Jonathon G. Phillips for his professional assistance in editing our script.
Andrew Grugan and Members of the Staff of the Lycoming County Historical
Museum for their endless hours of patience and research.
To the entire Staff of the James V. Brown Library Reference Room and the
Pennsylvania Room for their untiring cooperation.
Grit Publishing Company for their guidance and encouragement.
The Sun-Gazette Publishing Company for providing historic articles from their files.
Dr. June Baskin, James Wither and Timothy Bishop and the Williamsport Area High
School and the photography department for their technical and material help.
Vannucci Foto Services for pictures of Rowley House interiors.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Edler for their vast supply of memorabilia.
Mrs. James S. Griffith for valuable typing of the script.
Mrs. J. Carl Baier for her artistic cover design.
Everett Rubendall and the WRAK Radio Station for historic background material.
To all those of the Bureau of Codes in City Hall.
To all of those in the Register and Recorder Office of the Lycoming County Court
We hope that through our efforts you will enjoy this book and its historical contents.
Barbara Griffith Ertel (Mrs. John C.)
Joann Carl Ertel (Mrs. James R.)
Nancy Baier Gilbert (Mrs. James F.)
Andree Pineau Fenstamaker (Mrs. Richard L.)
Sue Fenstamaker Young (Mrs. John M.)
Table of Contents
Four Hundred and Seven-P. Herdic 7
First Baptist Church 9
Four Hundred and Five-A. D. Hermance 11
Four Hundred and Eleven-L. M. Ulman 12
Five Hundred and Twenty-two-H. R. Rhoads 13
Five Hundred and Twenty-eight-} . M. McMinn 15
Five Hundred and Thirty-one-F . E. Embick 16
Five Hundred and Thirty-five-W . V. Emery 17
Six Hundred and Twenty-H. C. McCormick 18
Six Hundred and Thirty-nine-A. Laedlein 19
The Church of The Annunciation 20
Six Hundred and Thirty-four-H. B. Smith 22
Seven Hundred and Seven-E. A. Rowley 23
Seven Hundred and Eleven-E. Deemer 26
Herdic Block (Weightman Block)-?. Herdic 27
Herdic House (Park Home)-P. Herdic 28
Eight Hundred and Fifteen-M. L. Fisher 32
Eight Hundred and Twenty-nine-H. C. Parsons 33
Eight Hundred and Thirty-five-W. Emery 34
Trinity Episcopal Church 37
Eight Hundred and Fifty-eight-}. W. Maynard 39
Corner of Fourth and Maynard Streets-R. Faries 40
Nine Hundred and One-H. Johnson 41
Nine Hundred and Four-H. C. Taylor 43
Nine Hundred and Twelve-H. M. Foresman 44
Nine Hundred and Fifteen-L. J. R. Eutermarks 46
Nine Hundred and Twenty-one-Lyon Family 47
Nine Hundred and Forty-two-Forty-four-P. Herdic 49
Nine Hundred and Fifty-one-R. M. Foresman 50
Ten Hundred and Five-]. E. Goodrich 52
Ten Hundred and Twenty-two-C. C. Mussina 54
Ten Hundred and Twenty-five-}. G. Reading 55
Ten Hundred and Twenty-eight-W . Sipe 56
Ten Hundred and Fifty-one-W. E. Howard 58
The West Fourth Street Story begins in the superb forests of pine and hemlock
which once clothed all the watershed of the West Branch Valley and the "Long
Reach" 1 in the Susquehanna. Lumber created Williamsport's initial prosperity,
and when that prosperity was at its peak during the last half of the 19th Century,
more millionaires were said to be living on West Fourth Street than resided on
any other street of similar length in the world. 2
That West Fourth Street developed as "Millionaires' Row" was a direct result
of the foresight, intelligence, and ambition of one man, Peter Herdic. Herdic
settled in Williamsport in 1853 and began his purchase of land with five acres
known as the Grove Lot for which he paid $5,000. Eventually, after securing the
Woodward and Maynard farms, he was to own most of Fourth Street west of
Hepburn Street. Much of the land was swampy and required draining and filling
to make it suitable for building. In the area Herdic was to develop, he planned
a hotel (which was to become the center of the social life of the day), a gas works
to provide illumination, a row of offices adjacent to the railroad station, a
complete business block, and locations for three places of worship.
An astute businessman, Herdic gave the railroad their right-of-way through
Williamsport and land for the Walnut Street yards in return for a ninety-nine year
agreement that the main station would be on a site of Herdic's choosing — next
to his hotel. As the existing business district was a mile from the hotel, Herdic
established a horse-drawn streetcar line to travel Fourth Street from Market Street
at a fare of three cents.
Herdic wisely enlisted the exceptional talents of Eber Culver as architect for
most of his projects.
Not only did Herdic create a residential area for the wealthy on Fourth Street,
requiring that each home be set twenty to thirty feet from the property line thus
insuring a fine perspective for viewing the mansions, but he also provided both
lots and structures on surrounding streets to house the people and businesses
necessary for the support of the life style found on Millionaires' Row.
It was Peter Herdic who was instrumental in gaining the city charter in 1866,
and by fantastic manipulation had Newberry annexed without the residents of
that area being aware of it until after the feat was accomplished. In the fall of 1869
he was elected the fourth mayor of Williamsport.
Although his fortunes rose and fell, as did many during lumbering's "gilded
age", the effects of his planning for West Fourth Street are visible today. The lofty
spire of Trinity Episcopal Church, the impressive Park Home, and a fine
residential avenue remain as monuments to the genius of Peter Herdic.
1 The area from Linden to Halls Station.
2 The explosive quality of Williamsport's early expansion can be seen in the arrival of six major railroad lines
and in the tripling of population within the decade from 1860 to 1870.
Wholesale and Retail Lumber Dealer.
[CVwM.ranJ Bulhtx, Pr nt]
Four Hundred and Seven
When Peter Herdic settled in Williamsport with his wife, Amanda, there were
very few homes available. He made contact with Eber Culver and together they
designed and built the first of many elaborate mansions on West Fourth Street.
Herdic's home was a fine example of Italian Villa architecture. Set well back from
the street, it was a spacious home with great side yards. It was surrounded with
intricate wrought iron fence and the yard had a fountain amid the lush shrubbery.
The four lower porches had "Egyptian Lotus" columns, the lower portion of
the columns having grooves and leaf-like outward curls. The capitals were similar
to the Corinthian style, but not as heavily adorned with acanthus leaves. The flat
overhanging roof with carved bracketed eaves and the large square cupola are
visible from the side and rear, but the ornament which once rose above the cupola
has been removed. Many small terra cotta chimney pots can still be seen. Most
of the original doors and windows retain their ornate moldings.
After Amanda Herdic died, Peter married Encie Elizabeth Maynard, daughter
of John W. Maynard. It has been said that Encie was one of the most brilliant and
cultured women in Williamsport and that she added both grace and beauty to
Herdic's home and life. She filled their home with handsome furnishings and
from his abundant means, provided guests with gaiety and lavish hospitality.
One chair from the Herdic parlor has found its way to the Lycoming County
This residence has been home to Nathaniel Burrows Bubb, Charles D. Wolfe,
the Tall Cedars (a social Club), and Mrs. Louise M. Plankenhorn. It is currently
owned by Duane Stegman. Mutual of Omaha's office protrudes into the once
spacious front yard.
Present day side entrance.
The First Baptist Church
The First Baptist Church of Williamsport officially came into existence at a
meeting in a small, dingy room in the old Williamsport Court House on December
17, 1854. Among the sixteen present were Amanda Herdic and her father, Foster
Taylor. After several unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable place of worship,
the congregation agreed to accept a swampy building lot previously offered to
them by Peter Herdic, who, although he was not a member of the church,
appreciated his wife's religious activity. The lot was to be given only if they would
agree to build thereon a "first-rate" house of worship. The deed included a clause
stating that the lot would revert to the heirs of Herdic should it cease to be used
for religious purposes.
The first structure erected on the northwest corner of Elmira and Fourth
Streets was a small white wooden church with a lofty spire, designed and
constructed by Eber Culver, who was an architect, builder, and active member
of the church. 1
As Williamsport expanded, Fourth Street changed from a dusty dirt road past
scattered farm houses to a bustling cobbled thoroughfare past the beautiful homes
of lumber barons. Growth came to First Baptist Church, too, and they began to
expand by purchasing two lots to the north of the church. 2
1 The church had been constructed according to the traditional style of that period. The main entrance at the
base of the tower faced Fourth Street and a curved pebble walk led in from the street. Here, on a Sunday
morning, large black carriages pulled by two or four beautiful prancing horses would discharge their
passengers. After entering the front hall, church members turned to either side to climb the winding, heavily-
carpeted stairways which led to the hall above. From this hall they could look down upon a beautiful picture
of ladies in bustled dresses and plumed hats, entering the church on the floor below.
From the second floor hall, three doors led into the church sanctuary. A center aisle, bordered on each side
by white pews with dark mahogany railings and red cushions, led up to the pulpit. Stalls on either side faced
the platform and were known as the "amen corners". Members of the congregation had their assigned pews
for which they paid "rent" or "dues". 3
2 One faced Elmira Street with a three-story building on it, the home of the Williamsport Hospital. The Kelly
property was on the corner of Elmira and Edwin Streets.
Culver drew plans for a chapel at the corner of Edwin and Elmira Streets, to
be erected immediately; and a new church auditorium, to be erected at Fourth
and Elmira Streets at a later time. The chapel was completed in 1894. The floods
of 1889 and 1894 damaged the wooden floor joists and posts of the original church
so severely that it had to be razed in 1898. In order to prevent any questions
regarding the conditions in their deed from Herdic, the congregation immediately
laid the foundations of their new church as specified by Culver. They constructed
a platform over the foundations and conducted outdoor vesper services with
band or orchestra on pleasant summer evenings. Disappointed by the estimated
cost of building to Culver's plan, the church adopted a new set of plans prepared
by Mr. Denison, of Denison and Hiron, for a less expensive ediface.
In 1914 the new First Baptist Church on Fourth Street was dedicated. It is
beautifully constructed of native mountain stone in the Romanesque style. The
Byzantine decoration of the interior features quartered oak, open truss work,
wooden ceilings, wainscoting, a superb carving of symbolic eagles by William
Dittmar, and windows of antique leaded glass by Young and Bonawitz.
In 1911, prior to the completion of the Church, memorial services were held
for Eber Culver, who had created so much that is beautiful for his church and his
In 1954 the church was carefully renovated, providing a divided chancel, each
change conforming perfectly to the decor of the church.
"Thus the church stands, on the corner of Fourth and Elmira
Streets, today. Noiv, having served the past, it is prepared to
serve the future." 3
3 "One Hundred Years of Christian Service to the Community"
-booklet published by the First Baptist Church,
Four Hundred and Five
When financial difficulties beset Herdic, the side yards of his home were sold
as building lots. The corner to the east was purchased by Albert DuBois
Hermance, who had founded Rowley and Hermance (later Hermance Machine
Company) which manufactured woodworking machinery. In 1885, Eber Culver
designed and built this red-roofed, three story castle-like stone home in
The outstanding feature of the Hermance House is the beautiful wooden hand
carving by Giovanni Ferrari. The doors and staircase still approximate their
original condition, although the building has been extensively altered to
accommodate eleven apartments. The dining room alone was converted into two
Additional wood carving is the work of William Dittmar, who studied the
work of Ferrari and carved the signs above the door identifying the apartments
as belonging to the present owner, Al Ferrari.
This home is featured in the book "Homes and Heritage of the West Branch
Four Hundred and Eleven
The west side yard of the Herdic residence was purchased in 1878 by Lemuel
M. Ulman, son of Moses Ulman, who had established M. Ulman Sons store in
1856. The majestic brownstone and brick home built for the Ulman family
illustrates late Victorian influence, as it was designed by Eber Culver approx-
imately thirty years after he did the Herdic residence.
Immediately inside the entry, this mansion features beautiful double doors
with magnificent beveled, leaded glass, opening into an oak-wainscoted hallway
which once led to parlors, living and dining rooms, a library, and the kitchen.
When the home was purchased in 1936 by the present owner, Miss Sarah K.
Snyder, she fortunately acquired with the home several unique pieces of
furniture, including a Greener Concert Grand piano and a hand-carved oak
dining room suite which was designed specifically for the house. The furniture
features delicately carved "griffins" 1 showing the influence of mythology on late
Victorian era furnishings.
The home contains many of the original gas light fixtures and a functional
sentry system. The tower rooms on each floor provide a panoramic view of history
passing on West Fourth Street. In addition to being the residence of the owner,
this home contains commercial offices and three apartments.
•An animal, half lion, half eagle, which was sacred to the sun and supposedly guarded gold and hidden treasure.
One of the hand-carved oak
"griffins" on the sideboard.
The colors and theme of this stained glass Window are
repeated in several other windows throughout the home.
^*5h ^r~ ■ -^
r *. ; *
Fiz?e Hundred and Twenty-Two
Like so many others, Hiram Rhoads came to Williamsport in the midst of the
lumber boom. He quickly became one of the city's most successful businessmen.
Rhoads labored to introduce the telephone to the area, and in 1879 he succeeded
in establishing the second exchange in Pennsylvania (the first being in Erie).
Rhoads had the first telephone installed in his residence on Third Street and
within a year had organized the Central Pennsylvania Telephone and Supply
Company, of which he was President. Although best remembered for his work
with the telephone, he was also instrumental in founding and developing several
of the electric enterprises.
In the late 1880's, Hiram Rhoads employed the genius of Eber Culver to design
his residence. Through the years that have followed, this home has been
structurally unaltered. Although it was made into apartments, the interior is still
in excellent condition.
The front door and entry way display beautiful stained glass of a most unusual
design. Handcarved mahogany wainscoting and a winding stairway dominate
the large center hall. All the hardware in the main part of the house is gilded
bronze. The original chandeliers were among the most magnificent in Williams-
port. The flooring in the living room is solid pecan, which presents an interesting
contrast to the dark, rich mahogany fireplace.
The exquisite pattern of this interior hardware is repeated throughout the home.
Mahogany bathtub and wainscoting.
The second floor had four bedrooms, each containing a marble washbowl and
a large fireplace. The main bathroom still utilizes the original wooden bathtub
which was one of the first in Williamsport.
The owners have shown foresight in preserving the beauty and charm of this
fine example of Queen Anne architecture. Culver, in his autobiography, says that
he felt his Queen Anne style designs were the most successful of his career, and
this and the Rowley house would certainly support such an opinion.
Five Hundred and Twenty-Eight
A simple frame home with an expansive front porch was the home of Mr. and
Mrs. John M. McMinn and their seven children. Shortly after the last child was
born, the McMinn family moved into this newly built home at the northeast
corner of Locust and Fourth Streets.
McMinn had come to Williamsport in 1853 and worked as a first assistant to
Robert Faries, then the chief engineer for the construction of the Sunbury and Erie
Railroad. McMinn served as city engineer and made the first lithograph map of
Williamsport, which was published in 1857. In 1860, he and the Rev. Cyrus
Jeffries published the first edition of the West Branch Bulletin, forerunner of the
Gazette and Bulletin, now the Sun-Gazette. McMinn had business dealings with
Peter Herdic and surveyed the land for Wildwood Cemetery.
When McMinn moved south, his home was purchased by Benjamin C.
Bowman, one of the first men to float logs from Centre County via the
Susquehanna River into Williamsport. Bowman was recognized as one of the
most prominent lumber operators in the Susquehanna Valley. He was at one time
president of the Susquehanna Boom Company, president of Lycoming Rubber
Company, and vice-president of Lumberman's National Bank. He was affiliated
with B. C. Bowman and Company and with Bowman and Foresman Lumber
After the flood of 1889, the home was completely remodeled in the then avant-
garde Colonial Revival style. The central third floor dormer is decorated with
Ionic columns, scroll pediment, and a fan topped window. The second story
fascia board is adorned with garlands and protected by the wide eaves. Here, and
again on the first floor level, are the Ionic columns inviting attention to the
doorway or the oval leaded glass window.
Henry S. Mosser, of J.K. Mosser and Company, local tanners, purchased the
home in 1917. His family lived there until 1955, when a group of physicians
bought the property to convert to offices. The Susquehanna Group's common
waiting room was once the grand entry hall with an extra wide staircase, which
since has been removed. This waiting room has all of the original paneling and
molding and a lovely fireplace. The arched brick alcove for the old cooking range
is now a work area for laboratory technicians. The front porch has been enclosed
to provide more office space.
Five Hundred and Thirty-One
Like many of its neighbors, this brick and frame home was designed by Eber
Culver. It was built about 1880, for the Col. Frederick E. Embick family and has
always been known as "Embick Cottage." Col. Embick was with Company A,
"The Woodward Guards", of the Eleventh Regiment during the Civil War.
In 1892, Embick was a director of the Demorest Manufacturing Company of
Williamsport, which, during that year, manufactured an average of fifty sewing
machines daily, opera chairs and "New York" racing bicycles.
In the early 1900"s, the Embick family moved to New York City, and the home
was purchased by Joseph B. Rhoads. Mrs. Rhoads' brother, an architect, and her
mother, Mrs. Catherine Harris, also lived in the home. Mrs. Harris lived to be
100 years old in her own apartment on the third floor.
The beautiful entrance boasts panels of hand-carved flowers and leaves on the
front door, and opaque, pink, lavender, and purple leaded stained glass
windows. Inside, a massive dark oak stairway rises to the third floor. The main
chandeliers and sidelights have been moved to a private residence.
One unique feature of this lovely home is the master's bathroom which has
an exceptionally deep tub built-in with dark oak wainscoting identical to the rest
of the room.
The present owners purchased the home from Mrs. Joseph Rhoads in 1951.
Although now used as a commercial building, the original lines and the
ornamentation have been retained inside and out.
Five Hundred and Thirty-Five
William V. Emery had Eber Culver design this handsome brick and cut stone
home at 535 West Fourth Street in 1865. Emery was an associate of the Emery
Lumber Company on West Third Street, which maintained a retail business for
coal, ice, and lumber. Many retail lumber companies cut ice from the river in the
winter and stored it in sawdust. On any warm day it was a special delight for
children to chase the ice wagons, hoping to sneak a frozen sliver of the pure
Susquehanna water. The Emery Lumber Company was subsequently purchased
by the Lundy Lumber Company.
The Emery's youngest child, Eugene M., continued with the family business
and lived in the family home, as did his son. Mrs. Eugene Emery, Jr., had the
home changed into five apartments after the Depression. The apartments are so
well designed around the beautiful front stairway and curving rear stairs that it
is hard to believe it was ever a one-family home.
535 was purchased in 1966, by the present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Michael J.
D'Addio, who are maintaining it as an apartment house.
Six Hundred and Twenty
The Honorable Henry Clay McCormick, attorney, and his wife, Ida Hays,
lived and entertained in this elegant home with its ballroom on the third floor.
Stories of gala parties with politically and socially prominent people of Pennsylva-
nia still linger around Williamsport.
McCormick was one of the seven children born to Seth T. and Ellen Miller
McCormick, also of West Fourth Street. At twenty-five, he was elected solicitor
of Williamsport, and his career continued with activity in both local and national
politics. McCormick was involved in organizing the Cochran, Payne, and
McCormick banking house, Edison Electric Illuminating Company, and in 1892,
he was elected president of the Williamsport and North Branch Railroad
Henry Clay McCormick, a local attorney and grandson of the McCormick's,
fondly recalls the traditional family meals at this home on Thanksgiving and
Christmas when the food came on endlessly. Being a child, he was always
delighted to notice when someone would leave after the first course to run to
Steinbacker's on the 500 block of West Third Street for the ice cream for dessert.
This lovely home was named the Ida Hays McCormick Welfare Center in
the late 1930's, when it was donated for that purpose after the death of Mrs.
McCormick. When the welfare center opened, it contained offices and conference
rooms for the Red Cross, Crippled Children's Society, State Chest Clinic, Social
Services Bureau, Confidential Exchange, Lycoming County Tuberculosis Society,
Children's Aid Society, and the Junior League of Williamsport.
Although 620 West Fourth Street was demolished for the Lycoming County
Crippled Children's Society Playground, the carriage house of the McCormick
mansion still serves as the home of the Society.
1 ■ &&£&s&BEsis
Six Hundred and Thirty-Nine
The home and business of Auguste Laedlein were housed in this delightful
brick building (probably designed by Culver, for it closely resembles its
neighbors) at the corner of West Fourth and Walnut Streets.
Encouraged by his uncle to take advantage of the opportunities occasioned by
the rapid growth of "Millionaires' Row", Auguste Laedlein and his father left
France (where Auguste had mastered the finest in culinary art) and arrived in
Williamsport ready to establish a catering shop. They chose property which
would enable them to deliver easily to the well-to-do residents of Fourth Street.
Their building contained family living quarters on the second floor and a
lovely iced cream parlor complete with marble-topped tables and ceiling fans on
the main floor. The Laedleins enclosed their side yard with a high board fence
and provided small tables and chairs where their customers could enjoy
homemade iced cream and cake in a lovely outdoor garden setting.
Laedlein's business grew rapidly and soon he was catering not only to Fourth
Street patrons but to weddings and parties throughout the area. Mayonnaise
created "drop by drop" was one of his most famous specialties.
The building has changed hands, but has never undergone any exterior
structural remodeling. With the exception of defacing paint and signs, the
Auguste Laedlein shop stands very much as it stood when created by the
Laedleins in 1886.
The Church of the Annunciation
Although he was an Episcopalian and his wife a Baptist, Peter Herdic donated
the land at the corner of West Fourth and Walnut Streets to the Church of the
Annunciation. For eleven years, English-speaking and German-speaking Catho-
lics had worshipped together in a small frame structure, now the site of St.
Boniface Church. The Parish of Annunciation originated in 1865 when the sixteen
English-speaking families left St. Boniface to worship in rented quarters known
as Doebler's Hall on West Third Street. Annunciation's first church building
was a brick structure on West Edwin Street where the western half of St. Joseph's
School now stands.
In May, 1886, the foundation of Annunciation was begun and work continued
for three years with few interruptions until, stone by stone, the present handsome
and imposing ediface was finished. Amos Wagner designed the $67,000 project.
The building is constructed of conglomerate rock and sandstone, quarried at
Ralston, and it is pretty stone, well suited to its purpose. The exterior of this
Romanesque structure is pleasing to the eye, with towers and groups of
buttresses surmounted by fine pinnacles adding beauty to the architectural
design. Although the original elevations show a steeple, it was never completed.
On August 31, 1887, the scaffolding for the tower, at almost its present height,
collapsed, killing four stone masons. The tower was capped and a cross affixed.
Built to accommodate one thousand worshippers, this is the largest area
church without any center columns. No structural steel was used in the roof — the
supports are wood frames. The interior is finished in richly designed oak. The
gallery, wainscoting, doors and stairs are antique oak, and the pews are oak with
curved backs. It is "one of the most comfortable houses of worship in this state"
and a source of great pleasure to the parish.
The atmosphere of the church is bright and cheerful due to the free use of
color. The walls are finished in a soft lavender blending with the gray colonnades.
The area immediately behind and surrounding the main altar is finished in rich
wine with gold fleur-de-lis designs. The ceiling is sky blue with sections of
pink, and ornamented in gold leaf. Murals of the Ascension and the Assumption
appear high above the altars of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph. A mural of the
Annunciation is within the dome sections over the main altar.
Forty-three windows, ranging from two large and richly marked frames on
either side of the church body, to smaller single-pane frames near the magnif-
icently carved marble altar, are the outstanding feature of the church. All of the
windows are rich in design and pattern allowing sunlight to play in a
kaleidoscopic beauty. They were furnished at a cost of $3,600 and are excellent
examples of art in stained window work. There are also six windows in the
vestibule, and six in the gallery plus a handsome Catherine wheel window. The
sacristy holds ten small windows.
It can truly be said today, as in 1889, that "... the (new) church is a credit
to the city of Williamsport and a worthy addition to the fine buildings which have
made this city famous." 1
Six Hundred and Thirty-Four
The Smith-Ulman house, a three story brick Mansard showing Italian Villa
influence, was possibly designed by Isaac Hobbs and built about 1870 for Henry
B. Smith, a lumber dealer.
Owned and occupied by the Ulman family for some years, this handsome
structure was then purchased to replace the original rectory at the corner of Edwin
and Walnut Streets.
It has been remodeled several times, but the parlor, sitting room, and dining
room remain essentially unchanged. The house displays beautiful crystal and
converted gas chandeliers taken from the Rowley house across the street, and the
plaster ceiling pieces are among the loveliest on Fourth Street.
The home is owned by The Most Reverend J. Carroll McCormick, D.D., The
Bishop of Scranton, in trust for the Parish, and serves as a private residence for
the priests of Annunciation Parish.
This two-story building grew from its humble beginning as an Italianate carriage house for the Smith- Ulman
mansion at 634 West Fourth Street to a gracious private clubhouse for women . Although completely renovated,
the floor plan remains essentially the same. Two original doorways face the south. The ventilator, a familiar
detail of this landmark, was used to allow the escape of heat from the second floor hayloft. Varied civic, cultural,
and social events have occurred in the Woman's Club over the last fifty years. This former stable provides an
attractive setting for meetings, wedding receptions, lectures, luncheons, and teas.
Seven Hundred and Seven
"The new residence of E. A. Rowley now in the course of
erection at the corner of West Fourth and Walnut Streets will
be an elegant one when completed. It will have electric light,
electric bells, speaking tubes, a dumbwaiter and all the other
appliances of a first class residence." 1
Probably the most magnificent remaining example of the craftsmanship which
exemplified "Millionaires' Row" is the Rowley House. Eber Culver designed this
superb Queen Anne three-story brick mansion and it is recognized as one of the
most outstanding examples of its kind of Victorian architecture in the Com-
Lumber is used extensively in both the exterior and interior of the house and
evidences of the architect's attention to detail are seen as much in the exterior
wood trim and friezes as in the interior carved fireplaces and mirrored mantels.
From the elaborately carved throne-like chairs in the entrance hall through the
dining room with its built-in buffet, to the unusually carved staircase, only the
choicest woods were used as befitting a residence in the lumber capital of the
"The plastering, a great piece of work and probably the finest
ever executed in the city" 2
is in beautiful condition. Completely intact gasoliers, with cut glass globes inside,
and numerous stained glass windows testify to the home's elegant past.
Marble and tile fireplaces adorn many rooms and all are crowned by ornate
mantel pieces with bevelled mirrors.
Dining room buffet encases a stained glass window.
The entrance hall.
From the Rowley family, ownership passed to J. K. Rishel, a furniture
manufacturer of Hughesville and Williamsport. The Rishels lived in the house
until the 1930's.
The home is now a residence for the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Williamsport is indeed fortunate that the owners of Rowley House, past and
present, have cared so lovingly for this historic treasure.
Seven Hundred and Eleven
In the late 1880's, Elias Deemer commissioned his friend, Eber Culver, to
design a residence on West Fourth Street. The Queen Anne exterior of this home
has not been changed. Large porches remain to keep the first-floor rooms shaded
from the sun. The characteristic asymmetrical massing of shapes and textures
gives this home a picturesque appearance similar to that of the Rowley house.
Gables, dormers, and varied window treatments are visible above the delicate
spindlework of the porches. The carriage house at the rear of the property still
holds the rings where horses were once tied.
The interior of this seventeen-room brick structure clearly reflects the
lumbering age. The richness of cherry abounds in the winding staircase and the
handsome wainscoting and paneling of the center hall.
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Cast iron l*g brander which hears the
initials of Elias Deemer. The number
identifies a specific timber tract.
The Her die Block
The Herdic Block, designed by Eber Culver and built by Peter Herdic in 1870,
was to be the business center of the city. Herdic had hopes that it would be used
partly as an opera house and as rented locations for the government post office,
a public market, and the United States Court Rooms for the Western District of
Among the first tenants of the Herdic Block in 1870 were Lumberman's
National Bank, Lycoming Gas and Water Company, and Williamsport Manufac-
turing Company, all of which Herdic served as president. Other companies
included Williamsport Iron and Lumber, S.N. Williams Lumber, West Branch
Lumber, Susquehanna Boom, Laurel Run Improvement, Bennetts Branch
Improvement, and E. H. Burlingame, Civil Engineer and Land Agent.
In 1878, when Peter Herdic went into voluntary bankruptcy, the building was
not quite completed. William Weightman took over all of Herdic's holdings and
completed the construction of Weightman Block. 1
The entire building at the corner of Campbell and Fourth Streets is constructed
of large timber and bricks. It was built without the aid of steel beams or elevators.
The floors are concrete, the plaster walls are sixteen inches thick, and the doors
and woodwork solidly carved wood. The outside of the building is of interest in
that each of the three floors has a different window lintel. The street front
entrances have been changed over the years to suit the many different tenants,
but the upper floors remain basically the same.
The eighteen-foot ceilings have lent themselves to the conversion of one room
into a bi-level apartment with a loft effect bedroom area. Some of the apartment
doors are decorated with the original brass elephant head and trunk door
knockers, and some have the original folding pine blinds and shutters. The
penthouse was never completed and the lumber which was to be used remains
on the fifth floor level. The safes used by the banks are large walk-in, lead-lined
rooms reminiscent of the more prosperous era past. Today, the Weightman Block
has nine business and forty-nine residential tenants.
1 William Weightman, "The Quinine King", was a partner in the Philadelphia firm of Powers and Weightman,
which was the first to manufacture sulphate of quinine.
The focal point of the Fourth Street saga must be Herdic House.
This four-story, brick, Victorian hotel was designed in 1864 by Eber Culver and
opened to the public in 1865. l The story has been told that Herdic asked Culver
to travel about the country, look at the better hotels, then come back and design
one for Williamsport and submit an estimate for it.
' A spectacular though disastrous event took place on the afternoon Herdic House was to open. The gas works
Herdic had built to provide illumination burned to the ground. An undaunted Peter Herdic scurried
downtown and bought all the candles and coal oil lamps he could locate. The elaborate celebration went on as
scheduled. It is a coincidence that on the night this hotel became the Park Home the lights failed as they did on
the opening night of Herdic House just seventy-five years before.
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As Culver turned to leave the room, Herdic said that on second thought
perhaps he should not submit an estimate for if he did perhaps he (Herdic) would
not build it. The total cost is said to have been $225,000. The finished hotel, a
pretentious structure, located in a lovely park shaded by native oak trees, was
capable of housing seven hundred guests and was soon considered one of the
finest hotels on the Eastern seaboard. A deer park, fronting the hotel, was fenced
and had a decorative fountain and never fewer than three or four deer.
North Portico which once connected the Herdic House with the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad Station.
Before the advent of the dining car, all train schedules were contrived so a
station restaurant was available at mealtimes, and passengers were greeted at
Herdic House by a chef standing on the porch calling out an invitation to dinner.
Planked shad, as prepared in local lumber camps, was a specialty of the house.
The extensive menu was reproduced on thin sheets of wood. The railroad station
at its back door, the street car line at its front door; Herdic House was one of the
liveliest places in Williamsport.
After passing from the ownership of Peter Herdic, the hotel changed hands
several times. It was rented from the Weightman estate by Col. Charles Duffy,
who opened it in 1889 as the Park Hotel. In 1930, it was purchased by William
Budd Stuart who removed the two top stories to conform with fire regulations
before opening it in 1940 as the Park Home. Stuart enhanced the elegant
atmosphere of the home with his magnificent collection of fine paintings.
Since its conception, Herdic House has been an active and exciting place,
featuring concerts on the front lawn (some by Williamsport's famous Repaz
Band), dances in the first floor ballroom, afternoon "Tea Dances", and
sumptuous holiday parties.
Today, much of the same feeling prevails in the home. The grandeur is still
in evidence in the elaborate crystal chandeliers, oriental rugs, tapestries, oil
paintings, and stately rooms. The basic design is still that of a hotel with the
inhabitants treated as guests. Picnics on the lawn, parties, meals served by
waitresses, modern conveniences, and the spirit of freedom and pride which
permeates the care of this home combine to create happy and contented residents.
pv V^Prry q»
Eight Hundred and Fifteen
Mahlon L. Fisher, architect and builder of Greek Revival houses, came to
Williamsport from Flemington, New Jersey in 1855. He became affiliated with
members of the powerful lumbering families 1 and eventually became a wealthy
lumber dealer himself. Of Fisher, John Meginness, Lycoming County historian,
"Mahlon L. Fisher was the artificer of his own life and was one
of the few men who became rich and yet maintained a reputation
spotless and unsullied. Truth, honor, and fidelity xoas the
platform on which he stood firm and immovable. His generosity
was without stint."
In 1866, Eber Culver, who had recently finished Herdic House, designed a
magnificent stone villa with towers fore and aft, to house Fisher, his wife, and
seven children. The grounds were ornamented by a fountain, urns, and large
statues of "Summer" and "Winter". Gardens enhanced both side and rear. It was
a pretentious mansion, even in the days when it was fashionable to try to "out
do" neighbors, and the home became known as the "Million Dollar Mansion".
The cultural atmosphere of the rapidly growing city played a vital role in the
lives of the Fisher family. Surrounded by luxury in his youth, John Stires Fisher,
eldest son of Mahlon, expanded his wealth by managing extensive lumber
interests in central Pennsylvania and Canada. Both he and his wife were
artistically and musically inclined and were personal friends of artists Severin
Roesen and George Benjamin Luks. Their third son, Mahlon Leonard, became
vitally interested in the arts. He was a noted poet in Williamsport's cultural circles
and his work is still recognized.
The home fell into disrepair, many of the furnishings were disposed of at
auction, and the "Million Dollar Mansion" was razed to provide a site for the
construction of the Y.W.C.A.
1 John G. Reading, Peter Herdic.
Eight Hundred and Twenty-Nine
The first dwelling at 829 was occupied by Benjamin Taylor, lumberman. It was
completely destroyed by fire, and the home presently seen at 829 was built by
Henry Parsons, lawyer, and at one time Mayor of Williamsport.
A magnificent cherry door with gleaming brass trim graces the entrance to this
Queen Anne style home. The door was once framed with stained glass, but it has
been replaced with leaded glass. The original stained glass remains in the
windows of the upper floors. Cherry wood is repeated in the handsomely carved
The home contained a square dove-tailed pine bathtub that was copper lined.
It has been removed, but remains in the possession of the present owner.
A unique feature of this residence is a network of tin tubing that connected
several of the twenty-seven rooms to an old fashioned "Intercom". These
speaking tubes made it a little easier to communicate within such a large mansion.
Solid cherry front door.
Eight Hundred and Thirty-Five
The mansion built in 1889 by William Emery, when he married Mary White
Gamble, is a stone structure designed by Eber Culver in Richardsonian-
Romanesque style. It was erected on the east side yard of the John White estate.
The thirty-room home, including a servants' wing on the south side, butler's
quarters on the fourth floor, and a charming carriage house at the rear, was
purchased in 1906 bv Seth T. Foresman. The house was at its height of Victorian
luxury. It contained a music room where the children entertained themselves on
a player piano. The living room had lace curtains and draperies covering the
inside folding oak blinds, and the floors were covered with oriental rugs.
The house was owned by the Kaye family, then the Ackerman family. It was
used as an apartment house, and fell into disrepair when used by the Army as
a reserve center in the 1940's. Evidently, inside target practice was held because
nearly one thousand pounds of plaster had fallen on the oak floors.
Dr. Francis Costello purchased the property in 1956 and completed extensive
restoration and renovation.
The entrance hall in its Victorian splendor.
With the removal of the dining room table and Victorian knick-knacks,
this room seri'es as the office of William E. Nichols.
The building contains a treasure of architectural features exemplifying
"Millionaires' Row." Massive wooden doors open to an entrance hall dominated
by a magnificent quartered oak stairway, adorned by a large pagoda-style
fireplace, and lit by two chandeliers, suspended by a single chain from the thirty-
five foot ceiling. Woodwork in natural cherry and oak, bas-relief, moldings twelve
inches deep, wainscoting, beautifully carved fireplaces, and many glorious
stained glass windows have been refurbished. A four-knot pattern or insignia is
repeated in brass hardward throughout the house.
The aesthetic appeal of this house is overwhelming and each room has its own
individuality and charm. Oversized clear glass windows give a many faceted view
of the seasonal panorama of Way's Garden. Dr. Costello and the present owner,
the law firm of McCormick, Lynn, Nichols, Reeder, and Sarno, are to be
commended. Because of their interest in historic preservation, one of the city's
finest homes still shines brightly on a street where the gem is the rule, rather than
Trinity Episcopal Church
The epitome of appropriate design is to be seen in the lovely English Gothic
spire designed by Eber Culver to crown Trinity Episcopal Church. This Gothic
building reflects a lightness, delicacy, and simple beauty most fitting for a house
"The pointed arch, the acute pitch of the roof, the soaring
pinnacles-all direct attention upward." 1
The movement to establish this church began at a meeting at Herdic House
in December, 1865. With the population of Williamsport on the increase, an
Episcopal Church west of Hepburn Street was deemed necessary. In 1871, the
cornerstone was laid for a permanent building on a lot donated by Peter Herdic
at the corner of West Fourth Street and Trinity Place.
Fred G. Thorn prepared the original plans, but moved to Philadelphia, leaving
Eber Culver as the supervising architect. At Herdic's suggestion, architect Culver
created the beautiful lofty spire and executed many of the elaborate and costly
The mountain stone used in constructing the church was quarried from the
sides of Bald Eagle Mountain at Stone Switch, near Muncy. It was hammer-
dressed, laid in irregular courses, and its joints were pointed with black mortar.
The brownstone used for window jambs, door jambs, and buttress caps came
1 "History of Lycoming County, 1876" published by D. J. Stewart.
As the completion date approached, Herdic gave the church an organ and a
tower clock, 2 while Judge John Maynard (Herdic's father-in-law) and his wife
presented the church with a nine-bell chime.
The Maynard chime was used not only for the call to worship, but also in
sounding the famous Cambridge quarter-hour chimes from the tower clock. The
notes are arranged from an air by Handel and were first used in Cambridge,
England. Trinity had the honor of introducing these famous chimes to the United
That the church would be out of debt and ready for consecration when
completed could hardly be anticipated until Herdic quietly announced his
intention to present the finished building to the church corporation. Although the
original estimate had been for $25,000, Peter Herdic spent nearly $80,000 for the
completed project. On the day of consecration, February 22, 1876, Judge Maynard
read and presented to the parish a deed from Herdic, not only for the lot, but for
the building as well. Included in the deed was a stipulation that the pews were
to remain forever free.
In 1884, Judge Maynard gave the church an adjoining lot, and a rectory was
built. Thirty years later, in 1914, Amanda Howard gave Trinity the money to build
a parish house which was used for church activities as well as for community
The hallowed walls of Trinity Episcopal Church created a cohesive force in this
["he i lock which was "Warranted not to vary over two seconds a week" had to be wound by hand each week
until it was electrified in 1M4I . The original key remained in the lock until 1954 when it was stolen by vandals.
Eight Hundred and Fifty-Eight
The original building at 858 West Fourth Street was a three-bay Federal style
brick farm home situated on a dusty lane and looking out on fertile fields and a
lovely clump of woodland. The land had been purchased from James Hepburn
and the farm home was built about 1840.
Time wrought many changes in the home and its surroundings. The Maynard
family remodeled the house several times. The pillared veranda and balcony were
replaced by a recessed porch, and the roofing lath of green split oak was replaced
by slate. The fields gradually gave way to dwellings and the dusty lane became
a bustling thoroughfare.
Judge J. W. Maynard erected two wings with cupolas on either side of the
house. A Gothic tower with crenellations was added.
J. Roman Way bought the house in 1901, raised it three to four feet higher than
it had been originally, probably to correspond well with its neighbors, remodeled
the interior, and removed both the wings and much of the exterior Gothic trim.
By 1922, the house had become an exceedingly attractive grey brick dwelling of
spacious proportions with a hospitable atmosphere.
In 1939, it became the property of the Lycoming County Historical Society and
opened as a museum in 1941. It housed the artifacts and exhibits of the society
until December 22, 1960, when a disastrous fire burned a great hole through the
center of the gracious old building. The excessive smoke and water damage was
so severe that rehabilitation costs made the use of the shell impractical.
A new museum, contemporary and extremely functional as an exhibit center
was designed by Frank A. Wagner. It was completed and opened to the public
on November 22, 1968.
Corner of Fourth and Maynard Streets
This large Victorian structure once stood proudly in the center of what is now
Way's Garden. It was planned and constructed by Robert Faries in the mid-
eighteen hundreds. The dwelling was stuccoed brick, marked to resemble stone.
The home was situated on an elevated mound to the rear of this spacious
After Faries death, the house, or castle, so called because of its large towers,
became the property of John White, a lumberman. The Whites occupied the castle
for more than forty years, until their deaths in the early 1900's.
Just as J. Roman Way was completing the extensive remodeling of his home
diagonally across West Fourth Street, the first prospective buyer for the White
castle announced her intention to use the mansion as a rooming house. Mr. Way
bought the old home and had it dismantled brick by brick. According to a
newspaper account in 1913:
". . . so solidly was the old building put up that it requires
several blows to loosen each brick."
The land soon assumed a pleasing aspect and later in 1913, J. Roman Way
fulfilled his garden dream and presented "Way's Garden" to the City of
Nine Hundred and One
The brick home at the corner of West Fourth and Maynard Streets was
designed and built by Amos Wagner in 1890 for Henry Johnson, a state legislator
from Muncy, his wife, and six daughters. At its building, the house afforded a
fine view of the Maynard home as well as Faries Castle.
The Johnsons were so well pleased with the builder and their home that for
a wedding gift to one of the Johnson daughters they built a mirror image house
adjacent to their home but at a right angle facing Maynard Street. The houses
differ primarily in the splendid finishing touches chosen to display the distinctive
personalities of their owners.
The second floor coal-burning
fireplace features a curved draioer
for the removal of ashes.
Utility made beautiful, a by-ioord of the
day, exemplified in the hand- tooled red
brass container for the wall mounted
fire escape ladder from the third floor.
The impressive entrance to the Johnson home features mosaic tile flooring,
lovely stained and leaded glass, ornate hardware, and beautifully detailed
moldings and wainscoting. The entire house was finished with meticulous
attention to use of the finest in materials and craftsmanship.
Changing hands a relatively few times, this home fortunately escaped any
objectionable form of remodeling.
The present owners, Dr. and Mrs. George A. Durrwachter, enjoy a lovely side
view of Way's Garden. The house at 901 West Fourth Street seems to have come
full cycle; for in addition to housing the offices of Dr. Durrwachter, it is again
providing an exquisite setting for gracious family living. All the beauty inherent
in the original dwelling has been protected, restored, and skillfully adapted to a
20th Century life style.
Nine Hundred and Four
In 1868, land for the home at 904 West Fourth Street was deeded from Peter
Herdic to Howard C. Taylor, who built his home in 1873. The house was sold to
Daniel Stiltz and in 1891 was purchased by Garrett D. Tinsman.
The Tinsman name was very well known in the lumbering business. Garrett
D.'s father, Garrett, was a pioneer in the business, as was his uncle, Peter, who
began the first steam sawmill in the area in 1852. The owner of the home at 904
West Fourth Street operated a sawmill in the Maynard Street area, worked with
the Cochran Coal Company, and served as president of the Williamsport Steam
The home of Tinsman, his wife, Mary Ryan Hepburn, and their three children
was a stucco structure, making it appear simpler and less complex than its
neighbors. The main floor consisted of three large parlors or sitting rooms, a
dining room on the east side, with a pantry and kitchen to the rear. The house
has a curved stairway from the central entry hall. It once featured a three-foot
semi-nude statue of a woman wearing a Roman toga standing in the niche part
way up the staircase. The niche was said to be functional in that it allowed a casket
to be manipulated down the curved stairway.
At the rear of the house stands an elegantly simple carriage house, which the
Stiltz's used as a studio for the making of charcoal enlargements of photographs.
Fortunately, the present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Ohmneiss, have started
to restore this house after a heavily damaging fire in 1973. They are making an
effort to retain as much of the stucco and Victorian ornamentation as possible
while designing functional apartments inside.
IM'IHIIIII' _ g_. -
Nine Hundred and Twelve
Harry Chaapel's Florist Shop and Greenhouses stood on the location of 906-
912 West Fourth Street from the mid 1870's until 1898 and covered an extensive
amount of the property between Third Avenue and Nichols Place. The original
shop was moved around the corner to its present location at 324 Park Street
where, for some time it was the Crouse Gymnasium and most recently the Hann-
Litho Print Company. The original facade and turret remain and are well-
The Dutch Colonial gambrel-roofed home now at 912 West Fourth Street was
built in 1905 for Henry Melick Foresman, general manager of the lumber concern
of Williams and Foresman, at a cost of $47,500. The home is a copy of another
lumberman's mansion built in Emporium, Pennsylvania, and it was rushed to
completion for the marriage of Foresman's daughter, Martha Allen to John H.
The outside brick work is Flemish bond. The columns are of the Roman
Revival Period with Ionic capitals. The four main columns are seventy-four inches
around at the base and eighteen feet high. The seventeen small columns are
situated on the porch railing. Each one of the columns is hollow, having been put
together of individually cut and shaped pieces, like barrel staves.
When this home was built the carriage house to the rear of the property
accommodated horses on the ground level with an apartment for the horseman
and chauffeur on the second story. Foresman soon had it remodeled for the latest
invention — the automobile.
From all outward appearances, and the many chimneys on the roof, it would
be thought that the home had many fireplaces, but actually there is only one —
in the old main parlor or living room. The effect given by the clear glass of the
double front doors backed by the fine leaded and etched glass of the vestibule
doors is repeated on the first-floor landing in the upper sash windows, and then
again on the third floor landing. The first floor entry is fifteen feet wide with three
massive mahogany sliding doors which were made by the Crooks Door Company
at a cost of $200 each. An open stairway leads to the third floor where originally
there was a hardwood floored ballroom across the entire front of the structure.
The ballroom was later converted to an apartment, but the flooring is visible as
a reminder of past grandeur.
Ownership of the home was willed in 1944 to Rebecca Foresman who was
married to B. Cameron Keefer, Jr. They in turn sold it to Mr. and Mrs. J. Ernest
Hart, who used it as their private residence and as a tourist home.
In August, 1957, Dr. and Mrs. J. Carl Baier purchased the former millionaire
mansion for the sum of $28,750, a fraction of the total cost of building the home
fifty-two years earlier. For fifteen years it was used as a doctor's office on the first
floor and a private residence on the second floor. Another doctor, the Visiting
Nurses Association, and currently the American Cancer Society have occupied
the western side of the first floor. Presently it is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph
S. Clinger, Jr. dinger is an insurance adjustor, and his office is now located there.
Through all of the years and different tenants only one change of major
significance has taken place downstairs and that was the construction of a
partition in the original dining room to make a long and narrow room for
ophthalmology examinations by Dr. Baier. It could be torn out today without
interfering with the paneled molded ceiling, thus preserving the beauty of this
once gracious and spacious home.
Nine Hundred and Fifteen
Just beyond Mavnard Street, on the south side of West Fourth Street stands
the home which was presented to Lucy J. R. Eutermarks as a wedding gift from
her parents, Samuel and Emma Otto Filbert. The land was purchased and the title
transferred to her from Peter Herdic. The home is said to have been designed by
Eber Culver and is a two-story brick Italian Villa mansion built in the early 1870"s.
A cupola, which was removed in 1920 undoubtedly gave the families a great view
of the surrounding area. Originally the wooden front porch extended across the
entire facade, but it was removed around 1950 leaving the front stoop and the
Italian cornices and bracketed eaves.
In 1901, Mr. and Mrs. Elwood S. Harrar rented the home and they eventually
purchased it from John Eutermarks in 1907. The Harrar family objected to the
unpopular superstitious number thirteen, so they had it changed to fifteen and
the address has remained 915 West Fourth Street.
This eleven-room grand Victorian home has thirteen foot ceilings, some with
ornamental plaster center pieces. The drawing room has a white marble fireplace
and mantel. All of the windows were originally fitted with inside folding pine
blinds. At the foot of the staircase and bannister there was a newel post topped
by a gasolier.
This particular home is one of the fine examples of mid-19th Century design
that has been well cared for and preserved both interiorly and externally by its
Nine Hundred and Twenty -One
The Lyon home was built on land purchased from their friend and neighbor,
John T. Fredericks, of 925 West Fourth Street. It was a spacious home sturdily
constructed of cut stone and interestingly shaped hand-hewn shingles.
Following the death of her husband, Mrs. Lyon traveled in Europe where she
was so impressed by French design that she brought a French architect to
Williamsport to plan the remodeling of her home. The interior was enhanced by
the addition of arched double French doors, separating the study and dining
room, reproduced as exact replicas of doors seen and admired by Mrs. Lyon in
a French castle. French provincial paneling in shaded tones of cream and brown
was installed on all three floors of the home. Removal of the front porch was the
only exterior change made.
Later, 921 West Fourth Street became the home of Miss Henrietta Baldy Lyon,
early champion of woman's suffrage in Williamsport. Miss Lyon had an excellent
education and the courage and tenacity to join the battle for ratification of the 19th
In 1937, the house became the property of Dr. and Mrs. Hugh S. Fredericks,
who lived there until 1950 when it was purchased by Mrs. Thomas Redmond, Sr.
Mr. and Mrs. Howard C. Masters, the present owners who make their home
in the first-floor apartment, have covered the deteriorating wooden shingles with
siding. Painstaking care has been given to matching the moldings used in the
original creation of French Provincial paneling.
The adaptation of this single home to an apartment building was so skillfully
accomplished that the house retains all of its original beauty.
Nine Hundred Forty-Tzvo-Nine Hundred Forty -Four
Around 1875, Peter Herdic and Eber Culver embarked on a real estate
experiment building "double" houses. Their goals were to bring more residents
to the western end of the city and to provide work for many lumbermen who were
unemployed due to the decline in the lumber business. One result of this
experiment was 942-944 West Fourth Street, an unsymmetrical double house with
a Mansard roof.
A close look reveals that even the gingerbread trim on one side is different
from the other. Each side is equivalent to a large single-family home, complete
with servants' quarters. The first floor layout was so well planned that the maid
could answer the front door from a hall without disturbing any family entertain-
ing that might be going on in the parlor.
Since each side of the house was designed to be owned by different families,
it has perhaps had more owners than any other house on West Fourth Street.
Today, Mrs. Margaret A. Newcomer owns and lives in 942, and Mr. and Mrs.
Thomas E. Harris, Jr. own and maintain their photographic studio in 944
West Fourth Street.
Gingerbread on the West.
Gingerbread on the East.
Nine Hundred Forty-Nine-Nine Hundred Fifty-One
One of the largest of the West Fourth Street homes was built sometime
between 1865 and 1870 by George W. Lentz, lumber manufacturer and banker,
in conjunction with Peter Herdic. The earliest recorded occupant of the house
(then numbered 295) was Robert McCormick Foresman. The brick mansion with
Mansard style roof was a combination of Italian Villa and French Second Empire
In the early 1880's, a fire destroyed the original shallow Mansard roof and
Foresman added a third floor, a very ornate Queen Anne roof, a portico and
various other embellishments. After the remodeling the house contained more
than fifty rooms! These changes were typical of the times for the home owners
often changed the style of their home to meet the fashion of the day. "One-up-
manship" flourished on West Fourth Street with the newly rich admiring
anything cultural and seeking to possess and display proof of their improved
financial and social status.
The home at 951 West Fourth Street was not as showy as some, but it did boast
evidences of wealth. Unusual brass door knobs; stained glass windows featuring
the heads of Mozart, John Milton, and Tasso (the Italian poet, apparently in
keeping with the original Italian design of the home); ceramic fireplace tiles
depicting scenes from the Tales of King Arthur; all attest to the impression of
culture desired by the owner. All the interior walls of the original house were
frescoed with trompe l'oeil moldings, cornices, and other plaster ornaments.
The elaborate hand carving which frames the dining room fireplace, the
beautiful mahogany stair railing, and an elegant cherry corner cupboard are fine
examples of the excellent wood working craftsmanship of the period.
The marbleized slate fireplace in the living room is topped by a tremendous
mirror (once gold-leafed) which was strategically placed to catch the light of a
fabulous Victorian chandelier. 1
As the Foresman children grew up and moved away, the home was converted
into nine apartments and has been known as the Cleveden since 1917. In 1938,
John B. and Alice Gibson Voelkler purchased the home. At present, the property
is part of the estate of Mrs. Voelkler.
The chandelier has been installed in the Victorian Room of the Lycoming County Historical Society Museum.
Blue and white tiles on black frame
a second floor fireplace. The comer
tiles represent fire and ice.
The gasolier from the newel post
can be seen in the Victorian Room of
the Lycoming County Historical
Ten Hundred and Five
This spacious house at 1005 West Fourth Street with its grand verandas,
arched windows, and handsome woodwork exemplifies the elegant living of the
Victorian era when men did not apologize for their wealth, but displayed it boldly.
Both the main house and the extremely large carriage house are basically a
simplified form of the English High Victorian Gothic style; but English Victorian
Gothic, English Tudor chimneys, Italian arched windows, a balcony out of a
gable, and a turret with a spire-like wrought iron ornament combine to present
an impressive individuality of design.
Probably built in the mid 1860's, the house, as well as the land, was owned
by Peter Herdic, H. E. Taylor, and John G. Reading until purchased by John E.
Goodrich in 1869. Goodrich was in the wholesale grocery business, but went into
lumbering as the firm of Goodrich and Taber which maintained a saw, shingle,
and jack mill until 1878. Apparently Goodrich was hit by the panic of 1878 because
the house was sold at sheriff's sale that year.
It was the same panic that brought the next owners of the house at 301 West
Fourth Street (now 1005) to Williamsport. Peter Herdic's holdings had been
acquired by William Weightman who sent his daughter, Anne, and her husband,
R. J. C. Walker, to Williamsport to supervise his new ventures. In the 1880's, West
Fourth Street was the place to live and the Walker house was one of the finest
on "Millionaires' Row".
Walker, a graduate of Harvard University, was a lawyer. He was elected a
representative to Congress from the 16th District in 1880. He became president
of the Lumberman's National Bank, but he and his wife returned to Philadelphia
when he was admitted to his father-in-law's firm in 1893.
Anne Weightman Walker inherited all of her father's estate in 1904. After the
death of her husband, she married Frederick Courtland Penfield who was the last
ambassador to the court of Austria before World War I. Mrs. Walker Penfield,
who was referred to as "the Woman Midas" in her obituary, became known as
the wealthiest woman in the world after the death of Hettie Green. She was said
to have returned to Williamsport on many occasions to entertain at the Park Hotel,
which she then owned. On several occasions she chartered a private railroad car
to transport her guests to Niagara Falls for Weekend galas.
J. Henry Cochran purchased the house in 1895. Senator Cochran was a
lumberman, financier, railroader, industrial leader, state senator, and a living
exponent of true charity. He supported many charities, placing his funds in the
hands of friends whom he trusted and commanding that none should know
where they were spent. He was known as the "Iceman of Fourth Street" through
his thoughtful provision of ice for tr\e poor families who could not afford it to keep
milk cold. He died in 1911, but his widow maintained the house until her death.
1005 West Fourth Street was purchased by Dr. E. Lloyd Rothfuss in 1936. Dr.
Rothfuss turned the proud home with its fourteen foot ceilings and walls four
bricks thick into nine apartments. He and his wife resided in six rooms on the
first floor east.
As did the owners of the past, the present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Harold L.
Hurwitz, are maintaining this building with careful intention both to preserve the
integrity of the original structure, and to insure the continuing value to the
community of this most impressive West Fourth Street landmark.
Ten Hundred and Twenty -Two
In 1878, Charles Coburn Mussina purchased the tract of land upon which he
intended to build his private residence. The home was designed in 1881 by Isaac
Hobbs and Son, Architect, of Philadelphia, and their fee was $95. The specifica-
tions, still held in the Mussina family, state that the house shall be:
". . . a two full stories high with a gable roof. The bricks are
to be of good color and all mortar for the stone and brick work
to be composed of good screened sand and fresh lime, properly
proportioned and thoroughly worked to be the best quality of
The home is entered through large double front doors over which are stained
glass windows bearing the initials of the owner on one side and the then current
house number (312) on the other. Almost all of the rooms have exquisite stained
glass windows purchased from the Keystone Glass Works, of Philadelphia,
handlers of French and American glass and makers of stained, engraved, and
The east living room features upper window sashes of stained glass squares
surrounding a center square of daintily etched and embossed flowers and birds.
The fireplace opening is surrounded by tiles depicting scenes from Sir Walter
Scott's novels. Above the ornate walnut and maple bannister leading to the
second floor is another wall of fine glass windows similar to the others with exotic
birds, butterflies, and flowers.
The Sun-Gazette newspaper reported on March 22, 1882 that:
"the residence of Charles C. Mussina on West Fourth Street
has been completed and a handsome structure it is."
This is the only home built, owned, and still lived in by the same family. Miss
Martha Mussina, well-known local artist, currently lives there.
Ten Hundred and Twenty -Five
One of the early homes on West Fourth Street was this three-story frame
Mansard dwelling built in 1865 for John G. Reading. Reading was lured to
Williamsport in the late 1850's by his desire to become actively engaged in the
management of lumbering interests in which he had heavily invested. He had
been quite successful in the mercantile business in Flemington, New Jersey, but
failing health had required the sale of that business and reinvestment of his funds
with Mahlon Fisher, a Williamsport lumberman. Reading became extensively
involved with many local concerns and retained his interest in them until the mid-
When John Reading moved to Philadelphia, the house became the property
of his cousin, Franklin Reading.
The exterior of the home, which has remained unaltered, features beautiful
bay windows with delicate wrought iron trim matching that used on the porch
roof. Double front doors open on an entry hall with a circular stairway to the third
floor. At one time, each room contained a black marble fireplace.
The home has changed hands many times, been remodeled to provide five
apartments, and is now owned by B. C. Rothfus, who resides in a first-floor
<|JP)» READING, FISHER & Col,
LUMBER OF ALL KINDS, LATH, SIDING, PLANK.
. , OFFICE-HEHDIC BLOCK.
33, f, / ■■<<■• if3f t - >:•< ■•■ ■ ./-
Ten Hundred and Twenty-Eight
Although lumbering was indeed the primary cause of the prosperity that
created West Fourth Street fortunes, many diverse industries emerged in
conjunction with the growth of Williamsport. J. K. Mosser, tannery, became the
largest sole cutting plant in the world. J. E. Dayton made over fifty separate shoe
styles from high-grade dress to hunting, work, and railroad shoes. Lycoming
Rubber manufactured car springs and other hard rubber products, later becoming
Keystone Rubber and manufacturing shoes for lawn tennis, yachting, and
gymnasium use. E. Keeler and Company was established in 1864 and is still in
existence manufacturing water tube boilers and oil and gas burners. The Wire
Buckle Suspender Company was the largest in the world with a daily capacity
of 40,000 pairs of suspenders. The National Paint Works was the fifth factory in
the United States to manufacture ready-to-use paints. Flock Brewing Company
made lager beer, sarsaparilla, nectar, and root beer. Wood related companies
included L. M. Castner, picture and mirror frames; W. D. Crooks and Sons,
doors; Williamsport Furniture, bedroom furniture; H. D. Hermance and E. A.
Rowley, woodworking machines for furniture factories.
One of the smaller industries of Williamsport began in 1865 when William Sipe
settled his family here, building his home and a small factory with three pottery
wheels one mile west of Herdic House . At first, he made redware exclusively and
supplied the area for a one hundred mile radius. Later, he was a dealer in terra-
cotta, sewer pipes, and manufactured stoneware.
A privately owned collection of Sipe and Sons earthenware-bowls, crocks, and jugs
Sipe and Sons made all kinds of stoneware, which they decorated with blue,
the only color that would not bake out under extremely high kiln temperatures.
Many of the potters used the same basic designs and the easiest to achieve were
the hand painted plumes and sprays. Occasionally stencils were used.
All of this American pottery, sought after and prized by today's collectors,
reminds us of the time when the good earth provided all the basic materials for
the making of storage containers for our fruitful bounty.
Ten Hundred and Fifty -One
The residence at 1051 was built for William Howard and his wife in the 1890's.
Howard was one of Williamsport's pioneer lumbermen, but is best remembered
for his philanthropic support of the Masonic Order. It was through a provision
of his will that the Howard Memorial Cathedral on Fourth Street was built and
dedicated. It stands today as a testimony to the life long devotion and generosity
of its donor.
The lovely Howard residence became a multi-family dwelling after the
Depression. It was purchased by Dr. Francis Costello, and is now owned by
Dominic J. and Frances Santalucia.
Through the passing years, the house has remained virtually unaltered in its
external appearance. The delicate black wrought iron balcony and the black stone
trim accentuate varied patterns of brickwork. Intricate panels enhance the beauty
of this massive white brick structure. Its many windows are as varied as the glass
they contain; bull's eye (behind the balcony), leaded, French plated, and stained.
On both floors to the left of the entrance, a two foot thick solid stone curved lintel
tops three curved glass windows. The second story center window arrangement
is flanked by columns supporting stone wreaths with marble centers.
The interior which once contained over twenty rooms, reflects the bountiful
harvest of the lumberman. Parquet floors with elaborate designs are surrounded
by natural oak woodwork and wainscoting. The staircase, although partially
enclosed, still illustrates the skill of a master carpenter, and handsomely carved
newel posts stand proudly in the hallways.
Cherry, curly maple and oak form
fascinating geometric designs in
these parquet floors.
"May neither fire destroy
nor waste impair,
Nor time consume thee
to the twentieth heir,
May taste respect thee
and may fashion spare."
The end of the West Fourth Street Story has not been written, nor can it be
Speaking of the fledgling community emerging on the northern bank of the
Susquehanna at William's Port during the first half of the Nineteenth Century,
"'What is destined to be in the future, it is difficult to predict;
but if energy, intelligence, and moral worth do not prove
unavailing, we may safely anticipate for it a high and proud
His timeless words are most appropriate as we remember the past, consider
the present, and act for the future of West Fourth Street.
1 Meginness, John F., "A History of the West Branch Valley of the Susquehanna.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1857.
Collins, Emerson and Jordan, Histoni of Lycoming County of Pennsylvania, Volume I and II,
New York and Chicago, 1906.
Humes, James C. Sweet Dream-Talcs of a Rii'er City, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, 1966.
Junior League of Williamsport, Incorporated, Homes and Heritage of the West Branch Valley,
Williamsport, Pennsylvania, 1968.
Leach, Josiah, Reading Genealogy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1898.
Lloyd, Col. Thomas W., History of Lycoming County of Pennsylvania, Volume I and II, Topeka
Kansas and Indianapolis, Indiana, 1929.
Maass, John, The Victorian Home in America, 1972.
Meginness, John F. Historical Journal, (two volumes). Williamsport, Pennsylvania,
Meginness, John F. Biographical Annals of Deceased Residents of the West Branch Valley of the
Susquehanna, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, 1889.
Meginness, John F. History of Lycoming County. Chicago, 1892.
Singmaster, Elsie, Pennsylvania's Susquehanna, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1950.
Stewart, D. J. History of Lycoming County, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1876.
Tonkin, R. Dudley, My Partner, the River, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1958.
Atlas of the Cih/ of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1888.
Atlas of Surveys of the City of Williamsport and Suburbs, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1898.
Newspapers-Clippings and Accounts
Gazette and Bulletin, Gazette and Bulletin Publishing Association,
Grit, Grit Publishing Company, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, The Sun-Gazette Company, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
McMinn, Joseph M. Historical Sketches.
Grit, Williamsport Centennial Section 1866-1966, January 1966.
Dawson, Jean Mansions and Inns of the West Branch Valley,
Gazette and Bulletin, July 22, 1922.
Periodicals and Journals
Now and Then, a quarterly magazine of History and Biography. Muncy, Pennsylvania.
The journal of the Lycoming County Historical Society, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Junior League of Williamsport, Incorporated,
Lecture and Slide Series, "The Fourth Street Story."