Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Advertising from Madera

Here is some old advertising from the Madera area in Clearfield County.
Source:Alexanders Fording

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Bogert House in Ridgway

Ridgway has lots of history and its buildings show multiple styles of architecture throughout. This was one of the first towns I took pictures of and a few buildings got my attention. One building I saw was called the Bogert House.
The Bogert House

In the early years of Ridgway, there were multiple hotels in town and the Bogert was one of them. The other hotels were torn down and the Bogert House survived. Mr. McGeehin and P.F. Bogert owned the hotel in its infancy. Mr. McGeehim actually bought the old Elk County Courthouse, had it towed down the street and incorporated it into the Bogert House which was built in 1906. The old courthouse portion was in the rear of the building where the dining room is located. The hotel was in business for most of the century until 1990 when a fire consumed the building.
Old Elk County Courthouse
Elk County Historical Society

Today, the current status of the Bogert House proves to be quite challenging. According to the Ridgwayrecord.com, Kim Zimmerman who is the Borough manager stated that the old building should be torn down due to the multiple code violations and how badly the building is rotting away.

According to the same site (Ridgwayrecord.com) the Ridgway Heritage Council is trying to revive the old building to its former glory as they try to interest investors which was in 2011. The latest news was that the building was for sale.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Historic photos of Kittanning

Map of Kittanning late 1800's

Birdseye view of Kittanning early 1900's

Kittanning Public School early 1900's

Railroad Station

Steim Hotel 1940's

St. John's Lutheran Church

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Old Kittanning jail

The Armstrong Courthouse combined with the old Kittanning jail sits on a hill and seems to watch over the town. The old jail building is connected to the courthouse by a covered walkway. This was the third jail built in Armstrong County.
Jail building

The first jail was two stories and built of stone in 1805. It was located on McKean and Market Streets. The second jail was constructed around the same time and built of bricks. The second jail had problematic issues with prisoners escaping through the roof. The answer to this problem was to raise the walls and have a new roof secured to the top. Unfortunately, the walls could not stand the weight of more pressure being put upon them so the building was torn down.

The new prison was built next to the courthouse on Market Street and took three years to build (1870-1873). This prison was designed using Victorian and Gothic Revival Architecture. The total cost was about $252,000 and was considered one of the most secure prisons of its day. The building has 24 cells (8 feet by 13 feet), a tower which measured 96 feet high, foundation that was 24 feet deep, walls 2 and a half feet thick. The stone came in from a local quarry from Catfish located in Clarion County.

Today, the old jail is a records center and possesses paperwork and documents for the courthouse.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


I love doing trips in western Pennsylvania because there are a lot of really cool small towns. Most of these towns I have never been to so most of these experiences are new to me. On this trip my main goal was to drive to some areas I have never been before. Located in Armstrong County, along the Allegheny River, is Kittanning. The town's population was 4,044 in 2010. The word Kittanning comes from an Indian word meaning "The place at the Great River" and Kittanning's history goes back to the days when the Native Americans lived here in their village.
Jefferson Street

Back in the 1700's the Delaware Indians inhabited the area and created a village here known as Kittanning. The Kittanning path was located in this area and was an east west route for the Native Americans and the early settlers. This pathway was used as early as the 1720's.
Armstrong County Courthouse

N. McKean Street

The area in those days was full of unrest and disagreements between the Native Americans and the settlers. Indian raids were part of life and new wars would be initiated across the frontier of Pennsylvania. The French and Indian War was a turbelent time and in the 1750's the Battle of Kittanning would take place. The Delaware Indians and the Shawnee Tribes would partner up with the French to raid towns and they used the village of Kittanning as a home base for their attacks against the British. The British were very aware of this village and planned an attack of 300 people led by John Armstrong in 1756. John Armstrong and his troops destroyed the village. One neat fact about his attack was Captain Jacobs house had gunpowder stored inside and when the gunpowder went off, it was heard 44 miles away in Pittsburgh.
Riverfront Park

After the war, Kittanning began again as a new settlement in 1803. This area was known for the abundance of steel production and Iron and steel were the main industries of Kittaning. Also coal, lumber, clay and brick plants were located in this area. Kittanning also became the county seat. The population went up in the early 1900's because of a merge between Kittanning and Wicksboro.
Train Station

Old factory
Map of Kittanning
Google Earth

Today, Kittaning has the Courthouse, jail and the River Front Park. If you drive around east end of town you can see the old train stations and some of the old factories.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

St. Luke's in Smethport

I've been doing the Small Town PA site for a few years now and I've seen many small towns throughout the state. One town that jumped out at me was Smethport. This is a nice town to drive through. I visited here during the winter months. The temperature was only 20 degrees but I still loved walking around and seeing all of the old houses with their rich history, including St. Luke's church. When I got home I researched some of the buildings and St. Luke's seemed to have an interesting history. 
St. Luke's Church

Henry Hamlin was a successful banker in Smethport and decided to hire William Halsey Wood to design St. Luke's Church. William was an architect born in  Dansville, New York in 1855. William moved to Newark, NJ shortly thereafter where he began his architectural apprenticeship. At age 20 William worked with Thomas A. Roberts who was an architect, went into a partnership then began his own practice. He went to Europe multiple times to study church architecture which inspired his own unique style. William would gain notoriety in 1889 when he entered an international competition for the design of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. He was well respected for his own bold designs and was one of the four finalists. He was not chosen as the winning architect. However, he would go on to design many churches throughout the states and he designed St. Luke's Church in 1892. 
Henry Hamlin
William Halsey Wood

St. Luke's Church is an example of 14th century English Gothic style architecture. The church was designed by the genius mind of William Wood who was the only person in Henry Hamlin's vision who can do the job. The church was a gift to Smethport and a representation of perfection designed by one of the brightest minds of its day. 
Inside St. Luke's
St. Luke's archive collection

William lived a short life. He contracted tuberculosis in Philadelphia sometime in 1897. He passed away just five years after designing the St. Luke's Church. His architecture lives on and if you want to see some of his best work, do yourself a favor and visit St. Luke's located on Main Street in Smethport.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Sylvan Grove Church in Clearfield County

I grew up in a large church near the city of Philadelphia. Then I moved to Central Pennsylvania. Moving to the center of the state has certainly opened up my eyes to the small churches across rural Pennsylvania. Some of these churches closed down years ago and many of the old church buildings do not exist anymore. Luckily, the oldest church in Cooper Township is still preserved and located on Church Hill Road near Kylertown, PA.
Sylvan Grove Church Today
Before the current church was built, there was a log cabin church located right across the street which also a school. The log structure was built in 1850. This was at a time where that area was known as Hickory Bottom instead of Sylvan Grove. 
Sylvan Grove Church in 1900
John and Wealthy Hoover deeded this plot of land in 1870 and current building was dedicated in 1871. John and Wealthy Hoover are also buried here. The church served with other churches in area creating a circuit charge in the late 1880's. All of the churches shared one Pastor who traveled every Sunday. Sylvan Grove was the first church in the Clearfield circuit but was then moved to other circuits throughout its history. The property also had a coal shed, outhouse and a building for a horse

Rev. Elmer Ritzman was the last Pastor of this church and the last Sunday worship was held 1918. It was used for Sunday School and funerals after the closing. 
Originally, the church had a picket fence that surrounded the property. The fence was built to keep out the livestock from kicking over tombstones and digging up the property. 

Today, there is an annual Homecoming that is held every year on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend since 1936. The church grounds are open from dusk to dawn and the grounds are operated by the Board Of Trustees. 

If you are coming from Kylertown on Rolling Stone Road, hang a left onto Church Hill Road where the elephant barn is located about a few miles after Kylertown. The church will be on your left about half a mile down the road.