It has always been assumed that Perkasie’s American House with its turret, wrap around porch, and rounded windows was designed by architect Milton Bean. Yet there was never much definitive documentation such as blueprints to confirm these suspicions.
A hotel was opened by Aaron Kern in the frame building at Seventh and Market Streets in 1870. Phillip S. Cressman purchased the hotel building in 1884 from the second owner, Oliver Nase. Having only “8 guest chambers” in the building, Cressman saw the need to construct a new hotel on the site. The frame structure was picked up and moved to North Sixth Street for use as a residence.
Constructed in 1894, the new brick hotel had 39 rooms that were heated by steam and lighted by gas. The tower “is probably the highest point in town, and from the observatory one can discern towns in three counties besides more than a dozen local villages.”
Not long ago, some of the American House blueprints, drawn by architect Milton Bean were discovered. They show the magnificent exterior details and the layout of the first-floor dining and bar area. The blueprints also show the details for the adjoining stores that were along the Seventh Street side of the hotel.
The American House remained in business, although in later years, the upstairs room were converted to apartments. The building was destroyed in the Perkasie Fire of 1988. The site remained vacant until 2015 -16 when the new “American House Building” was constructed for retail and residential use.
Organized in 1920, The Perkasie Chamber of Commerce succeeded the Board Trade as an advocate for the citizens and businesses. The chamber continued and expanded the philanthropic and organizational role played by the Board of Trade in the annual Christmas celebrations. They provided funding for town Christmas lights and organized Santa’s arrival events and children’s parties. For many years, the chamber and local businesses ran the “Trade and Travel” promotion where customers could win a vacation by making Christmas purchases at participating merchants.
In 2020, Betty Graver, the Pennridge Chamber Executive Director retired and closed the doors of the office for the last time. The Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce, located in Quakertown assumed all duties once performed by the Perkasie office. The building at Market Street was sold in 2020 and will become apartments.
The Living Memorial
Shortly after the end of World War II, the Perkasie American Legion, Post 280, established the Living Memorial at the Second Street Playground. In the spring of 1947, a tree was planted along the Northern end of the park for each of the twenty-two local men who gave their lives during the war.
The trees serve as both a living memorial and as a beautification project of the popular park. The entire project cost of $600 was financed by the Hartzel - Crouthamel American Legion Post 280 and “was not to be construed as a town or community Memorial.”
The Living Memorial was dedicated in September 1947. There was a parade through the streets of Perkasie to the playground where the dedication ceremony was held. A lacquered plaque bearing a scriptural passage and the names of the twenty-two who gave their lives was also dedicated.
“Active and Attractive,
The 1915 contest would have a prize of $2.50 in gold and would be judged by members from the Board of Trade. The winner was Willis Kulp who came up with the slogan “Active and Attractive, That’s Perkasie.” Other slogans in the final round were:
- Perkasie, Prosperous, Pleasant, Popular, Progressive
- Locate in Peaceful, Prosperous, Perkasie and be happy
- Locate, Live, Proper and be Happy in Perkasie
- Perkasie for Progress and Prosperity
The Board of Trade went on to use the slogan in their advertising and it appeared on their letterhead.
Perkasie Resident catches
Home Run Ball
The late Dave Hubbert would share an amzing account of Harvey Freed, a baseball stitcher who worked for the Hubbert Family stitching balls at the family home in South Perkasie. At that time, Hubbert’s stitched baseballs for A.J. Reach Company of Philadelphia. The Reach Company had the contract to stitch all the baseballs for The American League.
Harvey Freed would make a trip once a year to Shibe Park in Philadelphia to watch the Philadelphia Athletics play. At one game, Harvey, who was sitting in the center field bleachers, caught the only home run ball of the game. The home run was hit by the great Jimmy Foxx. After the game, Harvey was fortunate to have the ball autographed by Jimmie Foxx.
When Harvey went to work the next day, he relayed the story of catching the home run to his fellow employees and showed them the ball. Knowing that the ball stitcher would put their mark on the inside ball cover, they wanted to know who stitched the ball. Upon cutting off the cover they discovered it was Harvey Freed’s mark. This was amazing considering the hundreds of thousands of balls produced each year.
Harvey Freed displayed the ball proudly on the mantle of his home. When asked where the ball is now, Dave Hubbert replied that Harvey took it with him, in his casket, when he passed away.
Eventually, all major league baseballs would be stitched in Perkasie necessitating the Hubbert’s to purchase the factory building on 815 West Chestnut Street (now condominiums). Many area residents worked there or at home stitching all the major league baseballs until 1950.
The Perkasie Water
Ed commented that it was an interesting reuse of water runoff from the tunnel. The tunnel is north of the tank and at a higher elevation. The elevation difference provided a natural source of water pressure for filling the tank and supplying water to the locomotives.
Also, of interest, the crane next to the water tank is preserved by Reading Company Technical & Historical Society located in Hamburg, PA.
The Perkasie Water Tank
Local business owner, Jeff Schoeller, pointed out a shadow in the photo from a building that would have been located near Eighth and Market Streets. The shadow has a triangular point that is pointing to the intersection of Eighth and Market Streets.
It is not known when the tank was removed. It might have survived close to the railroads end of steam operations in the 1950’s. Today, the water tank site is now part of the Perkasie Borough Eigth St. Parking Lot.
The Perkasie Historical Society would appreciate anyone having a photo or knowledge of the water tank to contact us.
Also of interest in this photo is the word PERKASIE painted on the roof of the Moyer Coal Shed. The American Legion performed this project in 1929 as a navigational aid for aviators. The sign was illuminated at night by four spotlights.
Perkasie Historical Society Archives
A fragile blueprint of the stack was donated to the museum by former public works director, Dan Gilbert. From the print we can see that the stack was over 150 feet high. There were cleanout doors located at the bottom and a caged ladder leading to the top. The stack also had the letters of Perkasie on the north and south sides. The letters were formed with black enameled brick placed in the proper positions. The stack was illuminated at night. When passengers on the nearby train passed the stack there was no question as to where they were.
Electricity production ended in 1947 and the stack was no longer needed. Safety concerns about falling bricks led to the demolition of the smokestack in 1963.
Neff Ice Cream Store
December 15, 1926 Central News
Perkasie Historical Society Archives
The Neff – Affelbaum building was located at 609 West Chestnut Street. Today this is the grassy area to the left of the current Quakertown National Bank Branch. The building was once home to Perkasie newspaper, The Central News. Neff Ice Cream Store was located on the first floor and there were two apartments on the second floor.
On that December morning in 1926 an explosion destroyed the building and buried Moyer and Keller Dairy milkman, Leon Mauer under tons of debris. Local residents and fireman were able to dig Mr., Maurer from the rubble. He was transported to Grandview hospital where he later died.
Most of the windows on the North side the Perkasie Trust Building (now QNB) were blown out by the explosion. The floor of the building was littered by broken glass. The force of the explosion sent pieces of glass and mortar across the street shattering the windows at Thompson’s Hardware Store. The Central News described the shattering of the large plate glass windows, “ ... as though a gatling gun had been trained upon them.”
A mother and her infant child had to be rescued by ladder from the back apartment. The family in the front apartment luckily was not home at the time of the explosion.
There was much speculation as to the cause of the explosion. It could have been a natural gas explosion or an explosion of ammonia or carbonizer tanks. The building was beyond repair and was demolished.
1939 Nativity Tableau
The dedication of the tableau was the culmination of a community project sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. The tableau is more than 20 feet long and 15 feet high. Mounted on a huge base is an open Bible. On one of the pages is a depiction of the manger scene. The opposite page shows the Wise Men following the star. The scenes have cut out metal figures that are attached towards the front of the scene giving a 3-dimensional appearance. Indirect lighting adds to the impressive scene. The tableau was made in Allentown, by William R. Weiss Art Displays.
When the Honor Roll of Perkasie residents serving during World War II was erected at the Reading Railroad Station, the Nativity Tableau was moved to a new location and assembled on the Market Street side of the First Evangelical Church of Perkasie (now The First United Methodist Church). It is believed the tableau was last used during the 1950’s and then stored away.
Memories of Perkasie
Sharing interesting connections between Perkasie's people, places and events.