Lewisburg was founded in 1784 by Ludwig Derr, a settler in the area since the 1760s. Derr had purchased several tracts of land from the family of William Penn and other neighboring land owners; the largest of which was known as “The Prescott.” In 1783, he worked with Samuel Weiser (son of Conrad Weiser, the famous Indian liaison who died in 1760, and with whose family Derr’s own paternal family had been friends) to layout his combined land tracts, and create Derrstown.
The name was later, after Derr’s death, changed to Lewisburg. Much has been considered regarding‘how’ the name changed from Derrstown to Lewisburg. The most likely truth is that Derr’s first name “Ludwig” translated into English as “Louis” but, being of German decent, it was spelled “Lewis.” Later, after Derr’s death, the traditional Germanic “burg” was appended to his first name to create Lewisburg.
The street names that run east and west are a local urban mystery. St. George, St. Catherine, and St. Louis etc...they appear to be named for Saints. However, since Derr was a Lutheran and did not pay homage to Catholic saints, this is unlikely. Rather, the street names are more likely named for Derr’s family members, as those streets are consecutively parallel, and emanate from what was then Derr’s home.
Another mystery surrounding Lewisburg, is the disappearance of its founder, Ludwig Derr. After selling many lots of land, Derr set off for Philadelphia to sell additional lots. Shortly after arriving, records indicate some of his lots had sold. However, Ludwig Derr simply disappears from history in that city. Derr’s son George went to Philadelphia to search for his father, but returned a short time later knowing nothing more than when he set out.
Over the centuries, Lewisburg has been a center of commerce in Union County. Its tributary off of the Susquehanna River was used for logging and shipping, and remains of old factories and other ancient stone structures exist along the river banks. The town’s most famous landmark are its three-globe streetlights. Installation of the cast iron standards began in 1912 when Market Street was being paved with brick. Today approximately 1,500 of these lights line Lewisburg’s streets. The standards are made by the nearby Watsontown Foundry and wired by Citizen Electric.
Our walking tour will begin five blocks away from the Susquehanna River in Hufnagel Park and head down Market Street towards the water...
South Fifth Street
This is the only reminder of the once important railroad system that helped bring prosperity to Lewisburg in the 19th century.
The Chamberlin Building
434 Market Street
Elements of the original Federal style of this building can be seen along N 5th Street. The addition of the cast iron front was part of the 1870s renovation. A building technology rather than an architectural style, this technique employed iron in a new structural form which allowed large openings, principally along a street front. These structures were often loft buildings with ground-floor commercial establishments and some type of light manufacturing on the upper floors. Beaux Arts style elements can be seen in the decoration and the rounded arches and columns.
TURN RIGHT ON MARKET STREET AND WALK EAST.
413 Market Street
Dating to 1940 and featuring Bucknell’s school colors, blue and orange, and mascot bison, this is Lewisburg’s only Art Deco building. Glazed tiles, glass block, steel windows, aluminum and neon lights combine to produce forms which often reflected the ideals of the building’s inhabitants. In 2004, the theater underwent a major restoration to the marquee to bring back the Art Deco glory.
311 Market Street
This 1899 bank sprung to life in the Beaux Arts style, evidenced by the elaborate stone frieze and brackets, and the Ionic columns; with their elegant fluted shafts, detailed bases and scroll-like volutes at their capitals. Note the rounded windows, round arches connecting the columns, and the metal cross-hatched grilles on the windows.
southwest corner of South 3rd Street and Market Street
It was common practice for the federal government to construct massive combination post office/courthouses in big cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but not so common in smaller towns like Lewisburg. In this case, the building must express the dignity and solemnity of the judicial system. The four-story Neoclassical building, the tallest on Market Street, distinguishes itself from its commercial neighbors by the 10-step elevated entrance, massive Doric columns, and brass doors. It opened in 1932.
239 Market Street
Continuing the Greek Revival motif on this corner, a set of sturdy Doric columns greets depositors here.
201 Market Street
In 1830 William Cameron built a Federal style residence that 20 years later was remodeled into the headquarters for the Lewisburg National Bank. In the 1880s Jane Cameron renovated it back into a Queen Anne-style family home. She added porches, stained glass, towers and gables, and terra-cotta decorations. The original vault and stone interior walls of the bank remain in the house. She also added a matching carriage house that is one of only a few such structures in the United States not converted to a residence.
Bradley Shoemaker Gallery
200 Market Street
This Shingle Style home migrated from the New England seashore and uses wood shingles on vertical wall surfaces, often with decorative overlays. This is an 1890 renovation of an original structure was of logs slabs, chinked with mortar and horsehair. glass panes and a conical roof with fancy shingles. Blue colored glass in diamond shaped windows decorate the east side. A pharmacy was in continuous operation here from 1845 to 1990 ― thought to be a record in the United States.
136 Market Street
Originally two stories when it opened as Kline’s Hotel in 1834, a third and fourth story were added in subsequent renovations (the fourth story was added to accommodate the addition of an elevator). A Mt. Vernon style portico was added in 1938 by local architect Malcolm Clinger. The 1997 renovation successfully united the hotel with the smaller motel behind it, including replacing a flat roof with the gabled roof with dormers. Between 1834 and 1900 every Pennsylvania governor slept here.
133-139 Market Street
The stone foundation and belt course, Queen Anne shingles in the gable and side entry add interest to this brick commercial building.
131 Market Street
In 1906 the Lewisburg Club was organized as the focal point for the three service clubs - Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary. In 1911 this building was purchased for $6,000 to be the home for the service clubs and community activities. It was originally a simple brick structure built sometime between 1800 and 1814 on land conveyed by Ludwig Derr to Carl Ellenkhuysen. In 1906 the brick was overlaid with rustic yellow sandstone and accented with brownstone, a hard dark sandstone. It is the only brownstone building in Lewisburg. Notice the striking overhanging bay window at the second floor level and the lovely stained glass as well.
Christy Mathewson House
129 Market Street
Legendary baseball pitcher and winner of 373 major league games with the New York Giants, Christy Mathewson was born in Factoryville and went to school at Bucknell. The most famous of all Bison athletes, Mathewson was better known on campus as a hard hitting fullback and outstanding kicker on the gridiron although he also played baseball and basketball. “Matty,” was also well-known as a gentleman and a true scholar-athlete. He was president of his class and a member of the glee club. Mathewson, who was one of the five original members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and his wife, Jane Stoughton, lived here. He is buried at Lewisburg Cemetery on South 7th Street. The early brick building was later stuccoed and the corner quoins and ornate portico and cornice added.
124 Market Street
This brick townhouse was built in 1830; the ornamental Italianate details were later additions.
110 and 112 Market Street
These twin Federal-style brick homes feature protruding fronts and off-center entrance.
101 Market Street
This building was formerly the Lewisburg Inn. Built in 1825, it is thought to have contained only the portion from the corner to the bay window. It was the home of James Fleming Linn whose two sons were John Blair Linn, author of Annals of Buffalo Valley (1857) and James Merrill Linn, author of chapters in History of Juniata and Susquehanna Valleys. The house had a water tank in the attic which supplied the first running water in Lewisburg.
100 Market Street
Built in 1819 by merchant William Hayes, the stone Halfpenny mansion symbolized Lewisburg during the days of the woolen mill boom. The third story, front porch and balcony are not original.
Abbot Green House
43 Market Street
The original owner of this house, General Abbot Green, directed the work on the West Branch Canal in 1827. The fancy wooden trim, the peak in the roof, and the porch were all later additions.
Wm. D. Himmelreich Memorial Library
18 Market Street
Completed in 1902, the town library was designed to conform with the Greek Revival architecture of the church next door.
First Presbyterian Church
14 Market Street
Built in 1856 by Jonathan Nesbit, this is Lewisburg’s finest example of Greek Revival architecture. Details include a beautiful spire and belfry with curved supporting brackets, tall entablature with fluted columns and Ionic capitals, a fan-lighted door, and a Classical pediment. The 1869 residence with its ornate trim was the boyhood home of Norman Thomas, many times the Socialist candidate for President.
10-12 Market Street
Packwood House is among the oldest log-built structures of its kind in Pennsylvania, originally constructed as a two-story log cabin between 1796 and 1799. It initially served as a tavern and inn for river travelers along the Susquehanna. In the early 19th century, with the construction of the Pennsylvania Canal’s crosscut at Lewisburg, the tavern evolved into a hotel known as the American House. The hotel eventually expanded into an impressive three-story 27-room structure in the mid-19th century. In the 1860s, with the arrival of the Pennsylvania Railroad, interest in river travel faded and the hotel soon lost much of its business. The American House closed in the late 1880s, and the structure was converted into three townhouses.
TURN RIGHT ON WATER STREET.
37 South Water Street
The earliest homes in the county which remain largely unaltered are the stone houses. This is the oldest stone house, from 1786, still standing in Lewisburg. A log annex (now covered with shingles) attached to the house on the south side was originally a store, and later served as the first school in Lewisburg.
TURN RIGHT ON ST. LOUIS STREET. TURN RIGHT ON SOUTH 2ND STREET AND WALK DOWN THE EAST SIDE OF THE STREET.
60 South 2nd Street
Built in 1869 for James Marsh, it became the home of Congressman Benjamin Focht in 1915. The Italianate villa was one of the many romantic styles popular in the latter part of the nineteenth century, characterized here by the deep roof overhang with carved brackets, corner quoins, tall and narrow windows with interesting mullions, shaped window hoods ending in a drop at the sides, decoratively carved fascia boards beneath the roof with oval lie-on-your-stomach windows, and an arched double-door entrance.
George B. Miller House
54 South 2nd Street
George Barron Miller, son of George F. Miller, built this home in 1884. Notice the deep frieze under the roof and the jig-saw cut-outs on the porch.
George F. Miller House
43 South 2nd Street
Built in 1856 by George F. Miller, Congressman during the Civil War, this is a late example of brick Federal architecture. This building also has many unusual features not typical of the Federal style: three story construction, hard-fired brick facing with tight joints and slender rows of mortar, (but with sides of soft-fired common brick), window ledges of marble, (unlike the more economical stone or wood) and larger windows than in earlier Federal houses.
37-39 South Second Street
This Early Federal structure is typical of Lewisburg, before the building boom of 1842-1860. Note the wooden clapboard, overall simplicity and doorways that open directly onto the street.
TURN AROUND AND RETURN TO ST. LOUIS STREET.
Cronrath Funeral Home
106 South 2nd Street; southeast corner of South 2nd Street and St. Louis Street
This house offers many of the hallmarks of the Queen Anne style: decorative wooden shingles beneath gables, a terra-cotta roof crest shaped in metal like scales on a dragon’s back, a multi-colored slate roof, fish-scale shingles under the gable facing South 2nd Street, a peculiar isolated gable arising from the roof on the North side and leaded and stained glass windows. This one was built in 1888 by the Matlack family.
Union County Court House
southwest corner of South 2nd Street and St. Louis Street
The original wing of the Greek Revival courthouse was built in 1856-57 with private funds pledged during the movement to encourage the division of Union County. Lewis Palmer was the designer and Henry Noll was the head carpenter. Note the corner pilasters (flattened columns that stand out in relief from the wall); imposing columns with Ionic capitals; and the classical triangular pediment with Greek dentils above the capitals. A fine example of a cupola, with recently restored copper roof, houses the bell donated by Simon Cameron, Secretary of War in President Lincoln’s cabinet. The new complementary addition was completed in 1973.
TURN RIGHT ON SOUTH THIRD STREET.
60 South Third Street
This house was typical of the frame houses built in Lewisburg in the 1850s. The rear wing was added in 1880 by Robert Lawshe.
Beaver Memorial United Methodist Church
40 South Third Street
This church and parsonage (the fourth in a series of buildings for the Methodists) was erected during 1889-1890 in the Ruskinian Gothic style, named for John Ruskin, an English architectural critic and social reformer who disdained what he perceived to be the increasing emphasis on function over form in the architecture and engineering of his day. Notice the asymmetrical design of this buff sandstone church and ornamental finial at the top of the church’s spire and roof peak.
TURN AROUND AND WALK BACK TOWARDS ST. LOUIS STREET.
First Baptist Church
51 Third Street
The First Baptist Church was dedicated in 1870. The original spire, which was 175 feet high, was shingled by a president of Bucknell University, Justin R. Loomis, who designed the building. This church exemplifies the Gothic Revival style, one of the most popular architectural styles of the mid-19th century. This church’s steeply pitched roof, simple facade, pointed-arch stained glass windows, buttressed walls, and tall, thin spire are all characteristic of this style. The dark exterior stones are hornfels; a hard, very fine-grained rock that has cooled and solidified from liquid magma after intruding into, and forming a vein within, surrounding rock.
Christ’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
southeast corner of South 3rd Street and St. Louis Street
Notice the rough appearance of the red sandstone facade, the broad round arches; the squat, square, medieval looking tower, the smaller windows, deeper door openings and the general absence of carved or applied ornament. This heavy Romanesque style was popularized by Henry Hobson Richardson in the 1880s and 1890s and especially popular in civic and ecclesiastic buildings.
TURN RIGHT ON ST. LOUIS STREET AND RETURN TO HUFNAGEL PARK.