Local Preservation

Our WPA Wonder: Lake Lenape Park

Today, some people may take for granted the 122-acre Lake Lenape Park that connects Perkasie and Sellersville Boroughs via the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek. However, the park almost did not come to pass until local leaders joined with federal and county officials in 1935 to create a gift to “the children of the future,” as one leader called it.

Roebling Bridges 1940

The Park’s Roebling bridges in the early 1940s

Perkasie’s Civil War heroes at Gettysburg

Lost in the remembrances over the July 4th weekend was another event that defines our freedoms today – the anniversary of the epic battle at Gettysburg. Several founders of the Perkasie’s Grand Army of the Republic (or G.A.R.) post were probably on that battlefield, and there is one brief eyewitness account from them.

The confrontation at Gettysburg concluded on July 4, 1863 when General Robert E. Lee withdrew his Army of Northern Virginia from town. During fighting from July 1 to July 3, combined casualties were estimated at over 45,000, with nearly 8,000 deaths of Union and Confederate soldiers. It was the deadliest battle of the Civil War and effectively ended the chances of a Confederate victory in the Civil War.

The Wheatfield at Gettysburg, 1903.

“A Monster is Stalking the Town”: The 1918 Flu and the Pennridge Region

In late September 1918, the Pennridge region was deeply involved in the effort to end World War I. Little did people know the Spanish flu epidemic had arrived in their own backyard, starting perhaps the toughest five-month period in our local history.

Today, the 1918-1919 global influenza pandemic is getting new attention as America deals with the COVID-19 outbreak. To be sure, the coronavirus situation deserves public scrutiny and preparedness. But any comparison to the Spanish flu epidemic should be made with great caution.

In partisan times, almost everyone is talking about the Rockhill Quarry

There is one topic dominating local talk in the Pennridge region this winter, and it is not the upcoming presidential election. The fight over an old quarry containing naturally occurring asbestos is the talk of our region, and its 45,000 residents.

Mention the name “Rockhill Quarry” in East Rockhill Township at the grocery store, your church, a local restaurant, or on social media, and you will surely get a response. And the Rockhill Quarry is indeed old. The Perkasie Central News archives show granite was discovered there in 1888. By 1890, early quarry operators were “getting out blocks for building purposes and road paving,” at a time when few roads were paved. The General Crushed Stone Company began operations there in 1903, providing materials for “macadamizing, cement work and building purposes.”

rockhill quarry 1973

The quarry in 1973. Source: PA Power Library

Benjamin: Bucks County’s lost borough

In 1895, the residents of the upcoming Upper Bucks County village of Benjamin lost a court fight to form their own borough. Today, the region known as South Perkasie retains much of the history from that era.

BenjaminIn

In 1899, Perkasie and Benjamin residents rejoiced at the news of their merger.

Benjamin’s hotel, two mills, a general store and one of its churches still stand as do more than dozen of its houses. Its former turnpike is Walnut Street (Route 152). Its covered bridge was moved in 1958, however.

Looking Back: The original Mood’s Covered Bridge

This month, Bucks County begins another set of repairs on Mood’s Covered Bridge in East Rockhill Township just outside Perkasie. It is the second covered bridge at that location, replacing one that lost in a 2004 fire.

The repairs are part of a $2.5 million project to update all seven covered bridges owned by Bucks County.

Mood's Bridge in the 1950s

Mood’s Bridge in the 1950s. Photo by John C. Sinclair

The man who built Perkasie (and also his more famous wife)

Edward L. Smith was Perkasie’s town architect for nearly 40 years but his wife Katie served as a source of community inspiration as she battled an incredibly painful disease for 23 years.

katesmithobit

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.

Perkasie Park: Bucks County’s Hidden Historical Gem

One day each year, Bucks County’s most unique National Historic District is open for public tours. In 2019, that day is Saturday, August 3, as a new non-profit dedicated to the regional impact of the Victorian-age Perkasie Park Camp-Meeting holds its annual Founders Day celebration. 

The Perkasie Park Historical Foundation, a 501(c)3,  will offer self-guided tours of selected cottages and the Park’s outdoor auditorium on 21 acres tucked away on Perkasie’s Ninth Street. The privately owned Park’s Victorian architecture and unique landscape never fail to give visitors a sense of stepping back to a simpler time.

Today, this National Historic District isn’t widely known outside of the Pennridge region, and even many local residents don’t know that 60 cottages and an acoustically perfect outdoor auditorium sit across from the Perkasie police station and Penn Community Bank on Ninth Street. But 130 years ago, the annual Perkasie Park assembly brought thousands of people to its rolling grounds. In Bucks County during the late 1880s, its attendance was only surpassed by the annual Bucks County fair.

10 facts about Perkasie Borough’s early years

On May 10, 1879, Perkasie officially became a Borough when the Bucks County Court approved a petition signed by 68 village residents. To honor the anniversary, here are 10 facts about the newly created Borough, which has grown just a bit in the past 140 years.

An aerial look at 10 great historical structures we’ve lost

I recently posted an old aerial picture of the Perkasie Tunnel, one of Bucks County’s most historic landmarks. But that got me thinking about images of other places in the Philadelphia area we’ve lost since the 1920s and 1930s.