Perkasie Park Historic District to Hold 10th Annual Founders’ Day in August

Victorian camp meeting is a National Historic District

PERKASIE, Pa. (July 1, 2023) The privately owned Historic Perkasie Park Camp Meeting will open its Victorian grounds and cottages once again to the public this August, as the Association celebrates its 141st year with its 10th annual Founders Day event.The free event is from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine, on Saturday, August 5, 2023. Parking is very limited, so visitors are asked to park on 200 South Ninth Street if able to do so.“We look forward to seeing friends, neighbors, and visitors at our National Historic District,” said Frank Pezzanite, president of the Perkasie Park Historical Foundation. “We also will have a special announcement for visitors about a new event this fall at the Park.”

On Founders Day, visitors can take part in a self-guided tour of the Park using a pre-printed map and visit selected cottages that have been opened by park residents.

Perkasie Park Founders Played a Big Role in Borough’s Early Success

The old camp meeting on Perkasie’s Ninth Street holds many memories for many families. But few people today know its vital role in creating Perkasie Borough.

Two men, John Schwartz and Henry G. Moyer, were a primary force in forming the Perkasie Park Association in 1882, even though the men were members of rival political parties during a contentious time.

John Schwartz and Henry G. Moyer

The Perkasie Park Camp Meeting soon became the borough’s primary attraction during the 1880s and into the 1890s.  Moyer and Schwartz also played a big role in providing affordable housing during Perkasie’s cigar boom into the 1920s. At that point, Perkasie’s home ownership rate was nearly the same as today’s rate, thanks to Moyer and Schwartz.

Looking Back at Perkasie’s Great Fire of 1988

On a windy Sunday afternoon 35 years today, part of Perkasie’s town center burned in one of the borough’s defining moments. Today, the Great Fire is still a topic of discussion.

For the past seven years, I have done research on Perkasie in two academic programs and also written two books about the borough. In my many conversations about Perkasie with various people, the Great Fire comes up as a remarkable event in their lives.

Perkasie fire damage

Aerial photo by the News-Herald’s Dave Moyer, from the Perkasie Fire Company #1 Anniversary Book, 1990

The story of Perkasie’s Ice Cream Age

There once was a time when Perkasie had two active wholesale ice cream factories in town. Both creameries were lost in disasters in the 1920s and their owners experienced hardships after their ice cream businesses shut down.

Fred B. Neff and Irwin P. Mensch ran the two factories on or near Chestnut Street, within one block of each other from 1902 to 1926, with a brief period of inactivity. Neff’s Ice Cream and Crescent Ice Cream were local staples and served at the finest locations in Perkasie and neighboring towns. However, they were not in business at the same time. The tragic end of Neff’s Ice Cream in 1926 closed out the borough’s Ice Cream era.

A Brief History of Perkasie’s Block Houses

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.

The First Block Houses on Fourth Street

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 Eighth Street Row Homes

The Lansdale Historical Society has digitized its newspapers from 1870 and 1926, and they appear on 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 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.

Kate Smith and Her Nurse Miss Grace (Photo: Jane Strohm)

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

A Reading Train at the Perkasie Tunnel

A Reading Train Exiting The Perkasie Tunnel

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.