Bloomsburg’s original town streets were laid out in 1802 by Ludwig and John Adam Eyer, confident that the location at a regional crossroads would guarantee growth. After a slow start the village grew rapidly in the latter half of the 19th century. A majority of the buildings in the Historic District date from that era, with a few earlier and a number of 20th-century buildings. Architectural styles are varied,from austere Federal to highly decorative Second Empire and Romanesque.
The “character” of the downtown is evoked chiefly by two- and three-story brick commercial buildings erected along Main Street before 1900. These buildings evidence a variety of 19th-century styles, but many of them have common features: narrow sash windows,ornamental brickwork, wrought-iron details, and prominent cornices (roof-line projections). The focal point of the downtown is the Market Square with its Civil War monument and Stroup Fountain.
The adjoining residential districts, particularly on Market Street and Fifth Street, display numerous attractive homes from the same era. Some of these are fairly grand but all were built as “livable” single-family homes. Several homes retain hitching-posts in front and/or small stables at the back, relics of the pre-automobile age when the homes were built.
In the 1980s the Town of Bloomsburg began a concerted effort to maintain and enhance its architectural heritage. The Town Council established a Historic District, roughly five blocks long and four wide. The Town also created a Historic Architectural Review Board to assess building-permit applications to ensure that the historic qualities of the District are preserved even in details such as the style of windows.
Our walking tour of Pennsylvania’s only incorporated town (other municipalities of this approximate size are generally boroughs) will begin at Market Square and radiate in every direction...
Market Square at intersection of Market Street and West Main Street
The town acquired the fountain from the J. L. Mott Company in New York City, and had it installed in the fall of 1892. The Bloomsburg Water Company informed Town Council it would supply free water for a fountain, and Town Council used money from the David Stroup estate to purchase the fountain. In the late 1960s the fountain was replaced; some twenty years later it was re-installed and then in 2002 refurbished to its original appearance.
WALK NORTH ON MARKET STREET TO THE END IN TWO BLOCKS.
head of Market Street
This is the 1840s home of Judge Warren Woodward, who was the first elected judge of the 26th judicial district and later became a Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Built in the Federal style with Greek Revival details in the porch, the cornice, and pilasters distinguish this structure that commands the vista down Market Street.
TURN AND WALK SOUTH ON MARKET STREET BACK TOWARDS MARKET SQUARE.
1 North Market Street
Reverend David J. Waller, a Presbyterian minister, purchased the property in 1847 and constructed an Italianate home in the style of the day, topped by a cupola and encircling verandah with its fanlike brackets. He lived here until he built a grander home on the southwest corner of Market and Fifth Streets (where Memorial Elementary School now stands). Retiring from the pulpit in 1871, Waller devoted his time to public affairs in Bloomsburg, including development of industries, a railroad, and extensive housing tracts. A later owner, William M. Reber engraved his surname on the carriage stepping stone at the front of the property.
102 North Market Street
James Thornton, a blacksmith, owned this property at the time of the 1830 census. This post-and-beam Federal-style house is one of the oldest standing frame structures in Bloomsburg.
St. Matthew Lutheran Church
123 North Market Street
St. Matthew’s originated in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, founded in 1807; for fifty years it shared a building on First Street with the German Reformed congregation. In 1857 the Lutherans erected a church at this site and changed its name to St. Matthew. The current church, designed by Ritter & Shay of Philadelphia with random coursed rock-face and ashlar masonry (dressed stone). opened in 1925, and the education wing in the rear in 1957.
150 North Market Street
The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is a fraternal organization for master Masons founded in 1867 and named for John Caldwell, a prominent Philadelphia Mason. One million terra-cotta bricks were used in constructing the Victorian Eclectic/Modified Colonial Revival building in 1907. The double-headed eagle above the front door is the symbol for a consistory.
TURN RIGHT ON WEST MAIN STREET ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE STREET.
Morning Press Building
111 West Main Street
The building was designed to house the Morning Press newspaper, established in 1902 by Paul Eyerley and Charles Vanderslice. Indiana limestone and gray pressed brick with matching mortar provide a striking exterior contrast with the cast-iron trim. Needing more space, the newspaper, renamed the Press Enterprise, built a new plant in Scott Township in 1972.
203 West Main Street
The Bloomsburg Lodge, No. 623, Royal Order of Moose, was founded on January 18, 1920. Membership steadily increased over the years and the lodge decided to build its own home at this site in 1950, designed in the Art Deco-Miami Style by local architect John Schell. The Moose sold the building in June 1999 and moved to Scott Township.
227 West Main Street
This excellent example of Second Empire/Victorian architecture features original fret work, mansard roof and a cupola.
Iddings Barkley House
259 Main Street
One of the oldest standing structures on Main Street and an excellent example of pure, early Federal style, this was the home of Iddings Barkley, a pioneer at Bloomsburg, where he developed a large business as a carpenter and cabinetmaker. The brickwork is traditional Flemish bond.
CROSS THE STREET AND TURN LEFT, WALKING BACK ON WEST MAIN STREET, ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE STREET.
246 West Main Street
This Second Empire Style house with mansard roof and twin pedimented dormers accented by semicircular windows was built for Lloyd T. Sharpless, a grocer. It later did time as the Kriner Funeral Home. The front entrance is not original.
Kleim’s Drug Store
128 West Main Street
Christopher A. Kleim purchased the building in 1895; he raised his family and operated a drugstore here until 1944. The Queen Anne-style building features a roof with cross gable and turret. Look for interesting interplay of polychromatic brick and shingle surfaces on the second floor façade.
Peacock and Moyer Building
102-106 West Main Street
This Georgian Revival building with Neoclassical elements was built for entrepreneur Clinton C. Peacock and Lucas N. Moyer, president ofBloomsburg Silk Mills, to provide retail, office and residential space in 1894.
Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Constructed in 1908 from seventeen blocks of granite, weighing 100 tons and rising sixty feet tall, the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument was purchased by the County Commissioners from Worden Brothers, Batavia, NY. On the shaft are the names of Civil War battles in which Columbia County soldiers fought. Statues on the four corners represent the infantry, cavalry, artillery, and navy.
36 West Main Street
Paul E. Wirt purchased the Italianate-style building from the William McKinney estate in 1887. He used it as the office for the Wirt Fountain Pen Company and as a rental property; the post office was on the ground floor. When the Bloomsburg National Bank was established in 1899, it leased office space on the ground floor, replacing the post office. Wirt served as the bank’s vice president. The bank was the predecessor of today’s First Columbia Bank and Trust Company. The columns and entrance arches in Classical Revival Style were added later.
Former Exchange & Magee Hotels
20-24 West Main Street
Casper Chrisman built the original log and frame Exchange Hotel in 1810 which was replaced in the 1850s by a three-story brick Federalist Style building. Destroyed by fire in 1870 it was replaced in 1874 by an impressive four-story brick Second Empire building with mansard roof. Bought in 1912 by James Magee II, the founder of the Magee Carpet Company, it was renamed after himself. Following fire damage in 1933, the present Neoclassical façade was constructed. The hotel ceased operation in 2003.
TURN RIGHT ON CENTER STREET.
Alvina Krause Theatre
226 Center Street
The Grand Opera House built here in 1874 was demolished in 1938 to make way for the Columbia Theatre, which opened in 1940. The Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE) purchased the building in 1980, gutted it, and renovated the interior to make it suitable for live performance. Original Art Deco decorations were re-installed inside the theatre. Alvina Krause was the founding artistic director of the BTE, which is the resident acting company of the Alvina Krause Theatre, named in her honor in 1983. She was born January 28, 1893 in New Lisbon, Wisconsin, and spent 34 years as a drama teacher at Northwestern University before moving to Bloomsburg in 1971.
RETURN TO MAIN STREET AND TURN RIGHT TO CONTINUE ONTO EAST MAIN STREET.
10 East Main Street
In May 1886, Mary Gross Phillips, purchased the bilding at 10-12-14 East Main Street for $5,000. She opened Phillips Cafe and Phillips Boarding House. About 1920 she rented the commercial floor to F.W. Woolworth, which remained a fixture on Main Street until 1990. Still in the family, Phillips Emporium & Coffeehouse is now the sole commercial occupant. The original wood floors remain beneath the linoleum and carpeting and remnants of the pressed-tin ceiling are reminders of an era when building codes were less particular.
56-64 East Main Street
The distinctive crescent of bricks, the floral terra-cotta embellishments, and the curved wrought-iron balconies are emblematic of the late Victorian Romanesque and Queen Anne styles.
124 East Main Street
In the fall of 1947, two brand new radio stations signed on the air in Bloomsburg. The Morning Press turned on AM 930 and a group of local business people fired up AM 690 WLTR. In September 1951, Harry L. Magee changed the call letters of WLTR to WHLM - Magee’s initials. Two years later WHLM became Bloomsburg’s first 24-hour radio station.
130 East Main Street
The street clock was erected by the A.B. Hess Jewelry Store and was re-lettered when the business was bought by Sneidman around 1924. A similar clock stood near Market Square at the former Roy’s Jewelers, 40 West Main Street.
Housenick Ford Dealership
300 East Main Street
Housenick Motors Company on the ground floor was the second oldest Ford dealership in the country. Notable amongst second floor tenants was a dance hall known as the “Casino” and a training area for George Keller’s circus animals. Keller, a former Bloomsburg University professor, had a successful career with a variety of shows including Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus.
352 College Hill
In the blocks below Bloomsburg University are several homes in the Queen Anne style of the late 1800s. This one was built for Cortez B. Robbins in 1889. A wholesale liquor dealer and a lifelong bachelor, Robbins lived here until he died in 1937.
CONTINUE UP COLLEGE HILL TO THE END OF THE STREET.
Bloomsburg University at the head of College Hill
This signature academic building was erected in 1867 as Institute Hall - the first building on the present campus. It was later renamed in honor of Henry Carver, principal from 1866 to 1871. The center cupola of the Italianate/Georgian Revival tour de force was replaced by a projecting domed bell tower in 1900. Lights were added to the tower in 1954 as a memorial to students who died serving in World War II.
TURN AROUND AND WALK BACK DOWN COLLEGE HILL TO EAST MAIN STREET, USING THE SIDEWALK ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE STREET.
Bloomsburg Town Hall
northeast corner of College Hill and East Main Street and East Street
The Romanesque town hall was home to the municipal government, a lock-up, public meeting rooms, and also the Friendship Fire Company station when it opened in 1890. The exterior walls of the Romanesque structure incorporated molded terra-cotta bricks (now painted).
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
105 East Main Street
St. Paul’s, dating back to 1790, is the oldest continuous congregation in Columbia County. The one-acre site for the church was the original town burial ground (later moved to Rosemont Cemetery). The present church was preceded by three structures which stood to the right where the Rectory (built in 1876 in the Gothic Style) now stands. The current bell tower of the Victorian Gothic church was completed in 1891 and the attached parish house in 1892. The first pipe organ in Bloomsburg was installed here in 1874; Tiffany stained-glass windows can be found on either side of the nave, near the chancel.
45 East Main Street
The theater began premiering major Hollywood movies in 1929, surviving into the 1990s.
Columbia Trust Company
northeast corner of Main Street and Center Street
The Columbia County Trust Company was formed in 1916 and moved into this corner building with Neoclassical details. In 1926, Bloomsburg National Bank merged with Columbia County Trust to become the Bloomsburg Bank-Columbia Trust Company. In 1990, the name of the Bank was changed to First Columbia Bank & Trust Co.
Columbia County Courthouse
35 West Main Street
When the county seat was moved from Danville to Bloomsburg in 1846, the town’s citizens raised private funds to erect the courthouse and jail. The original small brick courthouse had a front portico with six Ionic columns, and a tower reaching eighty feet above the ground. The building has been enlarged three times: rear extension in 1868, expansion to the front in 1891 (with a new entrance and clock tower), and a second addition to the rear in 1938.
Farmer’s National Bank
37 West Main Street
Originally the Farmer’s National Bank opened for business in 1891 in an earlier building at this location. In 1909, the bank purchased and remodeled the building but demolished it in 1941 in order to erect the present bank. Art deco details mingle with Egyptian Revival motifs.
TURN LEFT ON MARKET STREET AND WALK ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE STREET.
U.S. Post Office
230 South Market Street
From 1840 to 1847 J. R. Moyer operated the Post Office in his store on this site. Built as a project of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, the Georgian Revival building uses Flemish bond veneer brickwork; of note in the lobby are low-relief sculptures depicting agricultural scenes.
240 South Market Street
Built for Edward B. Tustin, the cost totaled $200,000 ($100,000 for the building and $100,000 for the furnishings). The porch with its Ionic columns was constructed of ashlar masonry. Outstanding interior features include nine fireplaces and a Georgian Revival staircase of wooden pinned construction, purchased at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. Tustin, a local entrepreneur and director of the Bloomsburg & Montour Electric Railway Company, lost his fortune shortly after occupying the house in 1906 and so resided here only briefly. Purchased by the Bloomsburg Elks in 1923 and expanded in 1942, it served as a lodge for almost eighty years. The Elks and the current owner, the Columbia Alliance for Economic Growth, both undertook significant restoration of the mansion.
Wesley United Methodist Christ
300 South Market Street
Philadelphia, Architect Thomas P. Lonsdale designed this church in 1896 in the Victorian Gothic Revival Style. B.W. Jury built it with Elk Grove Graystone trimmed with Indiana limestone for $55,000, including furnishings. The slate roof was recently restored. An education wing and gymnasium were added in 1927. Two previous Methodist churches (1837 frame, 1857 brick) occupied the back of the present lot.
414 South Market Street
This Queen Anne style home built upon an ashlar foundation sports a second-story recessed porch with Ionic columns. It was built for T.L. Gunton, proprietor of the Marble and Granite Works and known as the “Monument Man.” Note the dragon gargoyles on the roof and the griffins guarding the front steps.
434 South Marker Street
The current structure was built in the Georgian Revival style circa 1907 around the original narrow Victorian house from 1870. Note the side windows which differ from the front. This was the home ofJames Law, president of the Magee Carpet Company.
450 South Market Street
This unique Prairie Style home was built in 1925 for William F. Gunter, operator of Bloomsburg Silk Mills. Cubistic shapes and earthy organic colors were a rebellion against late Victorian grandeur. Purchased in 1929 by the Housenick family; the sisters Elizabeth and Helen resided here for their entire lives.
503 South Market Street
John A. Funston built this substantial Colonial Revival home when he moved from Jerseytown to Bloomsburg in 1867. He was actively involved in civic and business affairs, founded the Bloomsburg Banking Company, was president of the Bloomsburg Water Company, and served on the Bloomsburg State Normal School Board of Trustees.
HEAD EAST ON FIFTH STREET AND WALK ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE STREET.
4 West Fifth Street
This Colonial Revival home belonged to C.C. Peacock, a town Councilman in the 1890s, Secretary of the Magee Carpet Company and Director of the Bloomsburg Industrial Building and Loan Association. The property originally had a balustraded deck above the porch.
2 East Fifth Street
William B. Koons, one of the proprietors of the Exchange Hotel, purchased a lot here in 1868 and erected a two-story Gothic Revival style frame house by 1870.
42 East Fifth Street
This 1895 house was designed in the Victorian Eclectic Style with a distinctly Byzantine influence, including an Onion dome and radially skewed slate roof. Note the giant owls placed on the gables to deter birds. Built for Fred T. Ikeler, a lawyer and later owned by his brother Frank Ikeler, Mayor of Bloomsburg.
60 East Fifth Street
Paul Wirt married Sara Funston on January 1, 1878; her parents, John and Elmira Funston, provided this home as a wedding gift. The classical porch was a later addition to the Queen Anne style building. Although Wirt was an attorney, his dominant interest was to develop a reliable and workable fountain pen. He began manufacturing pens in 1884 and by 1900 had sold two million fountain pens, making him a leader in the industry.
106 East Fifth Street
This is the former home of Joseph Ratti, founder of Bloomsburg Silk Mills in 1888 and benefactor of what is now the Bloomsburg Hospital. Ratti, a first cousin of Pope Pius XI, died while visiting Italy in 1906. The present porch with Corinthian columns replaced an earlier porch.
CROSS FIFTH STREET AND WALK BACK TOWARDS MARKET STREET ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE STREET.
133 East Fifth Street
This Queen Anne-Victorian Eclectic style house was the home of early industrialist John Lockard, who manufactured railroad cars. The G.M. and J.K. Lockard Car Works, established in 1872, was later known as the Bloomsburg Car Co., and finally the American Car & Foundry Co. The interior contains the same type of lumber used in railroad cars.
49 East Fifth Street
Robert Neal was former owner of the Bloomsburg Furnace Company and Treasurer and Secretary of the Tyrone Iron Co. Purchased in 1919 by H. Reber Mears, General Manager of Bloomsburg Brick Company, the Italianate home continues to remain in that family.
Van Tassel House
3 East Fifth Street
This Queen Anne house was built in 1880. It was the home of attorney Levi E. Waller on September 11, 1896 when the building was dynamited, destroying windows and the front porch, in an attempt to do mortal harm to the Waller family. Later it was the residence of Miss Sarah (Sadie) Van Tassel. She was a board member and benefactor of the Bloomsburg Public Library (where her portrait is installed) and owner of the first electric car in Bloomsburg. It is rumored that Sadie’s ghost still resides here.
27 West Fifth Street
This Colonial Revival Style brick house was constructed in 1929 for C.T. Vanderslice, co-owner of the Morning Press.
TURN RIGHT ON MARKET STREET AND WALK DOWN THE EAST SIDE OF THE STREET.
Magee Store and Letterman Bakery
401 South Market Street
Owned by James Magee II, the former Snyder & Magee Co. Ltd. Store was a general store used by employees of the Magee Carpet Co. In 1895 it became the Leader Department Store. Another Leader store was located in the Exchange Hotel. In the 1920s the building housed the Letterman Baking Co. and to the right, on the site of present offices, was a shed used to store the bakery’s delivery wagons. The Romanesque 1893 building is highlighted by rusticated masonry with decorative pointing with red mortar.
First Presbyterian Church
northeast corner of South Market Streetand Fourth Street
The Victorian Gothic Style First Presbyterian Church features Hummelstown brownstone laid in random courses. C.W. Bolten, of Philadelphia, was the architect. Walk down Fourth Street and observe the carriage entrance. Note also the Sunday School addition to the right of the carriage entrance built in 1915. To the left of the sanctuary on Market Street is the Christian Education Building designed by the Bloomsburg architect John Schell and built in 1963.
325 South Market Street
This Italianate Revival home with Moorish influence was built in 1890 utilizing cast cement. Note the amphorae with swags on the façade. Built for Judge Elijah R. Ikeler, it was later the residence of his son Fred. Additions at the rear accommodated a succession of funeral homes.
Christian Science Church/Reading Room
317 South Market Street
This is a Sears & Roebuck house, built from a mail order kit delivered by train and truck in 1920. The bungalow is in the popular Arts & Crafts style.
John Jordan Brown House
311 South Market Street
This Queen Anne style house shows interesting fishhook ornamentation and circular patterned shingles around the third story window. John Jordan Brown, a physician, began his medical practice in Bloomsburg in the late 1880s; after his death the home was gifted to the Methodist Church and became the church’s parsonage.
249 South Market Street
This is the original home of Frederick G. Yorks, who was a director of the Bloomsburg Silk Mills, founded in 1888 and employing 350 people. It was the site of the second Presbyterian Church building, a Georgian Style chapel which later became the Cummings & Verdy Co., a chewing gum manufacturer.
Bloomsburg Public Library
225 South Market Street
The engaged stone façade and pedimented gable roof mark the High Georgian Revival Style. Note the stone relief depicting the shield from the Pennsylvania coat of arms in the triangular pediment. An outcome of Bloomsburg’s centennial celebration in 1902 was the establishment of a free public library. It began in rented rooms until this building was erected at a cost of $100,000.
Man, Dog and Beast Fountain
in front of the Public Library
This cast iron fountain was erected on the southeast corner of Market and Main Streets in 1892 after 66 citizens petitioned Town Council for a drinking fountain at Market Square; it was restored and relocated to this site in 1991. The name represents the three basins - for people, horses, and dogs.
CONTINUE WALKING TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT.