One of downtown Perkasie’s defining features is its collection of Victorian row homes, which were called “block houses” during their construction period. The homes played an important role in the borough’s growth during the Perkasie’s boom years from 1898 to 1920.
Mystery Solved: Perkasie’s First Row Homes
One of the unanswered questions about Perkasie Village’s early history was the construction date of the row homes on Eighth Street above the train tracks. The homes appear in J.D. Scott’s 1876 map of Perkasie. But now we know the year they were built.
The Lansdale Historical Society has digitized its newspapers from 1870 and 1926, and they appear on Newspapers.com. The iconic Eighth Street row homes were built during the summer of 1874 and owned by the original town founders of Perkasie.
“Among the improvements in contemplation at Perkasie on the North Pennsylvania Railroad during the coming summer are new dwellings to be erected by Enos Kulp, Abraham Benner and Josiah Diehl on the upper side of the railroad. Joseph A. Hendricks and Henry Moyer intend to build two new houses each and Joseph Moyer and John Harr each one new house all in one block,” said the Lansdale Reporter in April 1874
J.D. Scott’s map from 1876 shows that the Moyer Brothers (Joseph G. and Henry G.) had partnered with town founder Joseph A. Hendricks and John Harr, the owner of the Perkasie Hotel, to build the block. These were probably early rental properties in Perkasie.
The row homes, with their steep gables, are unique and one of the borough’s architectural treasures.
A Brief History of Perkasie’s Callowhill Street Bridge
As some of you may know, Bucks County is rehabilitating its bridge on Callowhill Street in Perkasie and East Rockhill until early November 2023. But did you know the bridge had another name when the first version was built in 1881?
New Book Excerpt: Perkasie and the Baby Boom
My new book, Perkasie and the Baby Boom: Times of Progress, Times of Change (1946—1971), is now available online and will soon be available at several local outlets. The book has two sections. The first is a series of short stories about major developments, top news stories, and key local leaders. The second section is a monthly chronology of headlines over a 25-year period. The combination shows how quickly big changes happened, and the trends that still influence us today.
Featured below is an edited version of the Introduction. More ordering information about the book is at perkasiebook.com. The book should be available at the finest Perkasie locations in about two weeks, where you can get a signed copy and save on shipping costs!
Perkasie’s Most Famous Person During the 1920s and 1930s
Kate Cressman Smith may be a footnote today in our local history, but she was Perkasie’s most-famous person for a generation. Smith was as a source of community inspiration as she battled an incredibly painful disease for 23 years.
On February 24, 1938, the Perkasie Central News announced that Mrs. Smith had passed away a few months short of her 51st birthday at the family’s modest home at 519 Vine Street. “Death, shortly after 9 o’clock on Tuesday evening, claimed Kate Smith, Perkasie’s most widely known resident,” the newspaper said. That wasn’t a boastful claim. Katie Smith kept a list of people who visited her after she was confined to her sickbed in 1918. Her last visitor, Mrs. O.B. Sellers, was visitor 49,364 in her bedside guest book.
How Perkasie Lost Its Railroad Service
Like many towns on the old North Pennsylvania Railroad line, Perkasie was created as a train town, with life built around the arrival and departure of passenger and freight services. But after World War II, train services steadily faded away during the Baby Boom.
Perkasie During Prohibition: A Spirited Time
Today, some people look back at the Roaring Twenties as a simpler wholesome time. But Perkasie Borough and its neighbors had their share of drama involving alcohol and illegal activities.
The Great Experiment of Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933, when the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act banned the sale, manufacture, or transportation of intoxicating spirits, with some exceptions.
Teen’s 1877 Newspaper Shows Perkasie, Sellersville Business Ads
Last week, I was lucky enough to find a “treasure” in a Perkasie antique store, a rare copy of an obscure 1877 small-format four-page newspaper that predates the Perkasie Central News and the Sellersville Herald.
The Mercer Museum has eight copies of “The Advertiser,” which was printed on a portable printing press by a teenager in Sellersville. My copy is the July 4, 1877 edition, which is also in the Mercer Museum. What makes “The Advertiser” unusual is that it was never listed in a public directory of newspapers, and its printer was Charles M. Berkemeyer, who would become known regionally for his work with postcards and religious materials.
The mystery of Perkasie’s long-lost newspaper
The Perkasie Central News, founded in 1881, played an important role in the Upper Bucks region’s early development. But it wasn’t Perkasie first newspaper. Its smaller rival, the Banner, had a brief but controversial existence.
On May 1, 1879, the Philadelphia Times reported that the village of Perkasie had its first newspaper. The Banner was printed “half in English and half in German.” The publisher was “an aged German printer,” Charles Kolbe.
While Kolbe was born in Germany, he served in the Ringgold Regiment from Doylestown, for three years during the Civil War, and he lived in Doylestown until the time of his death. Kolbe also worked at the Doylestown Empress und Reformed, a German-language newspaper, in 1866.
In the 1880 census, the Banner was listed as the only newspaper north of Doylestown in Bucks County with at least some of its pages printed in English. That year, the Banner claimed its circulation was under 500 newspapers per week. It was published on Saturdays and printed in a room over Abraham Benner’s stable (the current location of Perkasie’s Borough Hall). The four-page weekly paper cost $1.00 for an annual subscription.
The Fascinating Career of Gilbert L. Thompson
Perkasie residents and visitors passing by Rams Pint House can’t help but notice the words “Thompson 1922” on the building’s façade. The story behind the “Thompson” in question is an interesting tale indeed.
Gilbert L. Thompson was a man of many talents who led an interesting life before he came to Perkasie in March 1901. Thompson’s Hardware was a vital store in a borough that was booming during the cigar-making era. But Thompson arrived in town just ahead of a disastrous investment in Lansdale, and his business survived for almost three decades in Perkasie.