Extraordinary Stories

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

The "The Cool Town With A History: Part VIII - Strolling Along Main Street" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Walking along Main Street in Lititz, PA admiring the architecture from a different time in history.  Many of the beautiful buildings in the first few blocks of East Main Street were built in the 1700s or 1800s.  I tried to document the year of construction and a bit about each of the buildings that I photographed today.  Follow along on my journey with me as I take you on a tour of the "2013 Coolest Small Town in America."  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.
Albert Glatz opened the first Tobacco Shop in Lititz, Pennsylvania around 1765.  Albert's first store was eventually relocated to this building in 1868.
This house was built in 1762 and was the seventh private home built in Lititz.  It was referred to as the Werner House which refers to the original owner, John William Werner who was the town cooper (barrel maker), bleeder (blood-letter) and tooth-drawer (dentist).  
Standing at 68 East Main was at one time the home of Andrew Albright, a respected gunsmith who created Pennsylvania rifles.  The Pennsylvania rifle was the preferred weapon among settlers moving over the Allapachian Mountains.  It later became known as the Kentucky rifle.  Today this building is the Lititz Post Office.
This was the Sturgis Hotel which was built in 1867 to serve the needs of the wealthy that visited Lititz.  In 1895 the third story was added.  In 1935 the building was purchased by Harry Chertcoff who turned it into a movie theatre.  Today it is the home of the Gypsy Hill Gallery. Click on it to enlarge it and you can read the name of the original hotel across the top of the building.
Erected in 1877, this shop was later the home of the Sunbeam, a monthly magazine and forerunner of the Weekly Express newspaper, later renamed the Lititz Express.  The owner, John G. Zook also sold bicycles from the store.  The papers were later relocated to the rear of this building at 22 East Main Street.
This stone building was built in 1762 at 120 East Main Street.  It housed a general store run by Christian Fenstermacher who came from Philadelphia in 1764 to run it.  About 25 years later it became the property of the Moravian Church and was renamed the Congregational Store.  Today it houses a real estate office as well as serving as a private home.
This stately brick house was known as The Pilgerhaus which was built in 1754.  It was built by George Klein as a two-story stone home which was used as a dwelling for ministers and congregational meetings.  It also housed the Congregational Store until it moved across the street to the house pictured above.  This building was also the first hotel in Lititz until 1764 when the hotel was moved to the corner of Broad and Main Street.  The following year it became the home of David Tannenberg, the famous organ builder.  His workshop was directly behind this building where he constructed 45 organs until he met his death while installing an organ in York, PA in 1804. During the Revolutionary War about 200 sick and wounded soldiers from Gen. Washington's Army were cared for at the Brothers House in Moravian Church Square and the doctors who cared for them were quartered in the Pilgernhaus during that time.  In 1862 the Rev. Julius Beckler replaced the two-story stone Pilgerhaus with the current three-story brick building except to the rear of the house where the stone first and second floors can still be seen. 
This building, built in 1854 and known as Wolle's Store is now  called The Moravian House -  Antiques and Country Treasures.
This beautiful stone home located at 207 East Main Street was built in 1790 according to a small plaque on the front of it.  I can find very little about the home, but it still reflects the history of the original town of Lititz.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The "The Almost Human Eating Machine" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading Jack Brubaker's "The Scribbler" column in the local newspaper about a Millersville cartoonist who wrote and illustrated a book about his fat cat.  The funny story and coloring book was by Dick Weidman that features his cat Jerome.  Talked about Jerome eating anything and everything put in front of him.  Wow, reminded me of the orange and white Tabby that is sitting next to me waiting for his breakfast.  That is after he just came inside after eating the bowl of dry food I put out for the stray ball of fur we call "Larry".  Thought "Larry" was a male when it showed up one day, but after seeing a few other neighborhood cats take advantage of it, we realized it was a female.  Luckily must have been spayed or we would be overrun with kittens by now.  As for our Tabby, Creamsicle, he showed up during a snowstorm a few years ago and was rather slim at the time.  He now weighs over 12 pounds, having eaten his share of just about everything we give him.  Since Carol and I are "empty nesters", we enjoy the company of our cat and treat him as if he was human.  Not the best for him, but we do it anyway.  Breakfast for him means a small can of cat food before he heads outside to search for mice, birds or even a squirrel for more nourishment.  Lunch finds him at our feet as he talks and talks until we can find something leftover from the previous evening or even a piece of lunch meat to hold him until supper.  He needs to eat, or so he thinks, at exactly 5:00 PM and if we are engrossed in Judge Judy and forget his meal, he reaches his paw up, and with a claw or two extended, reminds me.  I always acknowledge the claw and tell him he'll have to wait a few more minutes.  
Creamsicle telling me it is time to eat!
If that doesn't deter him, I either move to another chair where he can't reach me, or I'll feed him.  As you see, he has us trained very well by now.  After eating his dish of cat food, he patiently waits on the floor next to me, until Carol or I finish watching TV and head to the stove to begin supper.  Another begging session then begins with his constant talking and chattering.  I have never had a pet that cannot shut up!  I often tell him that I can see why his former owner dropped him off in the neighborhood.  He looks at me with a puzzling look, as he continues to talk to me.  When supper is ready he enjoys a few scraps from our meal which will hold him over until we have finished and place our plate next to us on the floor for him to finish the remnants of our supper.  He enjoys just about anything available to him.  If I have part of a hamburger left over, the burger goes first, than the bread follows.  Oh yeah, then dessert follows and he enjoys licking out the bowl of pudding, rice and even ice cream.  We tend to make sure he doesn't get too much ice-cream since I'm sure it isn't any better for him than it is for us.  His nap time follows until about 9:00 PM when I feel the claw once again.  Time for his baby food which is how we get him to take the pill he needs to keep the size of his heart reduced.  Bed time for us means a treat for him as he follows us up the stairs to our bedroom.  This goes on and on, day after day, so the cat belonging to Mr. Weidman is no exception in our house.  Our vet tells us he seems healthy, so we continue to treat him as a human.  The only disadvantage with his eating routine is the overabundance of gas created by Creamsicle eating human food.  At times it is unbearable and we have to chase him from the TV room so we don't pass out.  At first my wife blamed me, but after having it happen when I wasn't home made her see the light.  We have no idea how old Creamsicle may be since he was a stray, so we are thankful for the time we have with him and will continue to treat him as a human until the time comes when our vet tells us it may be best to change his diet.  Maybe then we can all eat cat food!   It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.     

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The "The Grocer's Picnic At Atlantic City" Story

This photograph from the local newspaper was taken one of the
years I rode the train to Atlantic City.  I can't identify any of the
passengers anymore, but perhaps one of them might have been me.
It was an ordinary day.  Telling a few of my friends about the couple of times my family would travel in the summer to Atlantic City to swim, watch the diving horse and pole sitter, and eat all sorts of stuff  on the boardwalk.  The yearly event was the Grocer's Picnic that was sponsored by various grocery stores each summer from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s.  I was a pre-teen the times we went and had the best time of my life during the trips.  The event was open to anyone that cared to attend and get up at the crack of dawn to get on the train.  For my family, it was pretty simple, since we lived half-a-block from the train station in Lancaster, PA.  There were so many people from Lancaster County that went to Atlantic City that the Pennsylvania Railroad ran two trains to carry everyone.  
A newspaper flyer telling of the
Lancaster's Grocers' Picnic to
Atlantic City.  This was from before
I was born, but you can still see
the train schedules.  Click to enlarge.
One would leave from one station in the county while another would start at another station.  They both would make the stop at the Lancaster Station on McGovern Ave., with one arriving about a half-hour before the other.  The streets around our neighborhood were packed with cars the day the picnic was held.  I believe it was usually on a week day and one time my dad couldn't make the trip with us due to his work schedule.  We would leave about 6:30 AM and head toward the coast, arriving in Atlantic City about 8:30 AM.  The train cars were packed with parents and kids, many of them friends of mine from school and church.  For me, the train ride was as much fun as the day at the beach.  Someone would walk through each car selling discounted tickets that you could use in the bath houses to change into your bathing suit.  They also sold tickets on the train to enter the Steel Pier where we went to see the diving horse who would climb the tower with its rider and put his front hoofs over the lip of the stand and all of a sudden leap, with the rider on its back, into the water about 50 feet below.  
The Steel Pier Diving Horse.
What a splash that would make.  That was probably the highlight of my day at Atlantic City.  I can also remember the guy along the boardwalk who would climb a tall ladder and sit in a chair that was fastened to the top of a pole.  You could pay so much for the chance to talk to him.  Mostly teenage girls would stand in line to talk to him.  Don't remember much more except for buying the salt-water taffy on the boardwalk before heading home just before dark.  Exciting trip for any young kid, but especially exciting for me, since everyone came to my neighborhood to catch the train for the trip to Atlantic City.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The "The Cool Town With A History: Part VII - The Empty Space Known As Bingy's" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Heading back to my car after an hour or so of walking around the town of Lititz, PA, taking photographs of many of the historical buildings for my multi-part story on Lancaster County's "Coolest Small Town in America".  As I stood at the entrance to Lititz Springs Park, looking east, I held up my camera to my eye to take a photo of the Parkview Hotel.  What a great name for a building directly across from the park I thought; then I heard the voices from behind me.  "Whatcha taking photos for?" was the first question.  I turned to see these two "oldtimers" who where standing nearby, watching intently.   I walked over to tell them why I had just spent the last hour taking photos of their town.  "We saw you!" the other one said to me.  Seems these two gentlemen, whom I never got names to go with their faces, were watching me as much as I was taking photos.  We talked about the restaurant/hotel, the General Sutter, on the corner across the street,  the park behind us and the Moravian Square where they were members of the Moravian Church.  But, the thing they wanted to talk to me about was the one photo I wasn't going to be able to take today.  
Bingeman's Restaurant on Broad Street in Lititz, PA.
That was a photograph of Bingeman's Restaurant, Bingy's to them, which stood next to the Parkview Hotel to the north, along Broad Street.  Restaurant was first called Colin's, then Lane's and then Weaver's.  Eventually both the restaurant and an auto store were torn down, leaving a big hole between the Parkview and the railroad tracks that are still in place.  "Bingy" was actually Lester Bingeman who was the owner, with his wife Mary, of Bingeman's Restaurant.  
Photo I found of the counter in Bingeman's Restaurant.
They took over the restaurant in the early 1960s and made it the place to go for breakfast.  Creamed chip beef and coffee to start the day with the Chicken pot pie or the "soup of the day" were big favorites for lunch according to my new tour guides.  It was the best place to get a "home-cooked" meal in Lititz with another favorite being the Oyster dinner.  They told me about the many characters, including the owner of the newspaper, who would meet there with them to talk about and make the news of the day.  They had heard talk recently about someone who may build in the empty space and open a new restaurant much like the one that closed 27 years ago.  I can't imagine how many residents, like these two oldtimers, would love to have a place along Broad Street where they could get a a cup of coffee in the morning and talk about the old guy who they saw taking photographs of their town one morning in order to write stories for something called a blog.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The "Almost A Catastrophe!" Story

Almost a catastrophe!  Photo by Sebastien Politano.
It was an ordinary day.  Looking at photos taken by a local island resident, photographer and videographer Sebastien Politano who captured the frightening moment when the wheels of a plane landing at the St. Bart's Airport in the Caribbean made minimal contact with the man.  A few years ago, Carol and I took a day trip on the High Speed Ferry from the island of St. Martin to the nearby French island of St. Barthelemy, or just St. Barts.  Our tour included a visit to the volcanic island which is fully encircled by shallow reefs and is known to be the choice of Caribbean islands for the rich and famous as well as to eat at a small restaurant in the capital town of Gustavia, where we docked, known as Le Select where one of our favorite musicians, Jimmy Buffett, was said to have written his famous song, "Cheeseburger in Paradise."  Part of our tour was a taxi ride around the 9.7 square mile island and during the ride we traveled on the road that rose high above the island and almost directly across the flight path of planes landing at the airport.  I can still remember stopping to watch a small single-engine plane fly just feet above the cement roadway as he began his decent onto the runway of the airport.  
CLose calls seem to be the norm!
Well, that location where we stopped is the exact same location where the lucky man was standing with his DSLR trying to take photos of planes landing at the airport.  The short runway requires extremely skilled pilots, who have a special clearance, to land at the airport.  The hill above it is also the perfect place for daring, and sometimes foolish, photographers to take their chances of taking great photos.  I have taken hundreds of photos at the airport at Sint Maarten where the huge jumbo jets land directly over Maho Beach, but that is a piece of cake compared to landing at St. Barts.  I assume the fellow whose hand was brushed by the wheel of the plane realizes how lucky he is.  Not only could he have been killed, but he could have caused a major catastrophe had the plane been misdirected by a collision with the guy.  Wanting to get a great shot is one thing, but to risk not only your own life, but those on the plane, is stupid and foolish.  Here's hoping the guy learned his lesson before he does create a problem that results in death for either him or those on one of the planes landing at the airport.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   PS - The link to the video follows.


https://www.facebook.com/SXSEB/videos/1204803419529702/



Monday, April 25, 2016

The "The Cool Town With A History: Part VI - Broad Street" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Parked the car a few spaces east of Broad on Main Street and began wandering around the town of Lititz, Pennsylvania with my camera and a list of locations that I had found while reading the book Images of America: Lititz by Kathy Blankenbiller.  The small book, which I had found amongst my mother's belongings when she died a few years ago, told just about everything you needed to know about the little town to the north of Lancaster which was voted a few years ago as "The Coolest Town in America."  There are essentially two main streets in Lititz; Main street, which runs east and west, and Broad Street, which runs north and south.  They meet in a "T" and at that  intersection is a small triangular island with a water feature in the midst of the island.  My story today will give you some of the main features along Broad Street while tomorrow I will tell you some facts about Main Street.  My first five stories have given some information about some of the structures along Broad and Main, but with a history that dates back to 1722, there are many more structures that deserve mentioning.  To make it more interesting and easier for me, I have decided to post photos of a few of the structures along Broad Street with a brief descriptions of each.  Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them.
The Reading and Columbia Railroad passenger and express station opened to the public in 1884 on land leased from the Lititz Moravian Church.  On October 28, 1952, Adlai Stevenson, Democratic Presidential candidate rode on the last passenger train to ever go through this depot.  In 1957 the station was demolished to make room for the Lititz Spings Park.  My photograph shows the replica that was built in 1999 which now serves as the Lititz Welcome Center.
Chocolate came to Lititz in 1913 when Henry Oscar Wilbur opened a chocolate factory next to the train station.  In 1992 the business was sold to Cargill, but kept the Wilbur name.  The company manufactured products that were shipped to confectioners, dairies, bakers and candy makers across the nation.  They also began making the famous "Wilbur Bud".  This past January, Wilbur closed the manufacturing plant located at 48 North Broad Street, eliminating 100 workers.  The small Wilbur Chocolate Candy Americana Museum and Candy Store in the front of the plant remains open .... for now. 
At 109 North Broad stands what at one time was Bob Eck's Garage which later was known as the Kaiser-Frazier Garage.  The building now is the Lititz American Legion, Garden Spot Post 56 which was the first Legion Post in Lancaster County.  It was organized in 1919 and chartered in 1920.
This is the Lititz Mutual Insurance Company at 2 North Broad Street.  Years and years ago a row of Victorian homes, known as Cottage Row, sat along Broad Street at this location.  In 1956 they were demolished to make way for a gas station.  Residents fought the gas station, fearing it would ruin the square in town.  They finally prevailed which resulted in this beautiful building.  
This is the Parkview Hotel which stands across he street from the Lititz Springs Park.  The first known owner was Hiram Holtzhouse and the building was thought to have been erected in 1901.  He also built the structure next to it as his home so his family wouldn't have to live above a bar.  The hotel part of the structure is closed at present, but the bar is a hub for the local bar scene with a trivia night every Wednesday.  The Parkview is one of Lititz's longest-operating businesses.  The Parkview is also one of the few bars in Lancaster County that can legally allow smoking because it doesn't serve food.  The Parkview does have two pool tables, three flat screen TVs, a jukebox and a pinball machine.  The original tin covered walls and ceiling with retro tiled floor and a bullet hole in the wall make it a real novelty in Lititz.
This is the building that Mr. Holtzhouse built in 1909 for his family.  Shortly afterward, he opened Holtzhouse's Confectionery.  By the mid-1930s, after Mr. Holtzhouse had died, the business was sold and became known as Glassmyer's Restaurant.  Today it houses the every so popular  Tomato Pie Cafe.
This is the original Lititz Borough Hall at 7 South Broad St. which shared housing with the Lititz Hose (Fire) Company which was on the first floor.  It was the second fire house in Lititz on this site, since the original building burned to the ground in 1873.  This building was built in 1912 and now serves as the Lititz municipal building which includes borough hall and the police department.


The Warwick House is the oldest hostelry in Lancaster County, having been established in 1809.  It  has changed ownership many times and in 1992 the new owner changed the name of the building to the Toy Soldier which now functions as a bar, restaurant and apartment building.
The John Badorf house at 120 North Broad Steet was built in 1907.  The Warwick House pictured above was owned and operated by Mr. Badorf when it was first built and he built this house right next to his establishment.  The house, which weighed 360 ton, had to be moved back 50 feet from the road in 1993 to accommodate an additional traffic lane. I was told that everything was left in the home and only one small dish was broken during the move.

Well, you now have an idea of the history of this small town to the north of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  I'm sure you can see why the reader's of Budget Travel voted Lititz the "Coolest Small Town in America" a few years ago.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The "Tiny Home Mania" Story

A tiny home on Rt. 30 in Lancaster, PA which is for sale.
Notice the upper level is very small.
It was an ordinary day.  Driving east on US Route 30 from Lancaster, PA to SR41 to a small town known as Gap when I mentioned to Carol that there were a few tiny home builders who occupy the sides of the three-lane highway along that stretch that are now building tiny homes.  We noticed a few new shows during the past year or so on Home and Garden Network that featured these tiny homes.  I should begin by telling you that the typical American home is around 2,600 square feet in size while the size of a tiny house is somewhere between 100 and 400 square feet in size.  Some of the homes are built on a trailer bed while others ware built on a concrete slab or built in a shipping container.  
This tiny home is built on a wooden platform.
This home didn't even have a second level.
Why would anyone want a home that you had a hard time turning around in or had to sleep on a mattress where you couldn't even stand up?  Seems that tiny home owners buy their homes because of freedom of debt, freedom to travel, freedom of location and having the option to pursue dreams versus working a thankless 9-to-5 job.  But, the homes are necessarily cheap to construct.  They can cost anywhere from $20,000 to maybe $100,000 depending on what small amenities the buyer wants.  There are a few home builders in Lancaster County, including Amish builders, who now seem to specialize in the tiny houses.  I believe it is just a fad at present and many people who begin with a tiny home and eventually have a family would have a tough time raising that family in a 100 square foot home.  The cost and mobility ideas are great, but when I was growing up, people who had the same idea bought mobile homes, but I must admit they are slightly larger than the tiny homes produced today.  
Another tiny home on wheels.
While watching the shows on H&G TV, I wonder how owners handle water and sewer issues.  Will they be hooked to running water?  How about a sewer hookup for sink and toilet waste.  And, what about power hookup.  I must admit that some of the homes featured on TV are rather unique.  Some have an eat-in kitchen with a small living area on the first floor and a crawl space for sleeping.  And, what about heating and cooling issues?  Can large sized pets be kept in a tiny home with you?  Carol and I have been talking about downsizing to make it easier to maintain the house and property, but we really aren't interested in a tiny home.  No way would I want to, or could, climb a ladder to go to bed.  I read an online article telling that tiny homes has been a slow-growing community that started about 15 years ago and only became well-known because of TV networks picking up on the fad and making it look like a fantastic lifestyle.  I would like to see what people think ten years or more after buying and living in a tiny house before I would recommend the lifestyle to anyone.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The "The Cool Town With A History: Part V - Rockin' And Rollin' At The Sutter Inn" Story

The historic General Sutter Inn in Lititz, Pennsylvania.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing in front of one of Lancaster County's most famous Inns, The Sutter, in the town of Lititz, PA taking a few photographs of the historic building.  Just last year the Inn was in the news when a young female by the name of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, known to most people as Lady Gaga, stepped into the Bull's Head Public House  for a shot of her favorite Jameson's Whiskey which she refers to as "her longtime Irish boyfriend."  
The original Inn and a few other buildings in Lititz.
Seems that her real-life boy friend, Taylor Kinney, a graduate of nearby Lancaster Mennonite High School in 2000, enjoys the anonymity they experience while visiting the small town of Lititz, PA, nestled among the Amish and Mennonites in an area that probably doesn't even know who Lady Gaga might be.  Now, it really doesn't matter about Lady Gaga anyway, for today's story is about the star of the square in Lititz, Pa, The General Sutter Inn.  
The date of construction is etched on the front window.
This brick and wood three-story building, with a few dormers, on the square carries on it's dining room window the stencil date of 1764.  The building houses two restaurants, a tavern and  sixteen rooms, six of them now luxury penthouse suites with a rock and roll theme.  The last part of my last sentence is due to the fact that the town of Lititz also is home to Clair Bros. Audio, Tait Towers, and Atomic Design, all leaders in the rock and roll industry.  
This photo, taken from their Facebook Page, shows a summer
evening photo of the side of the restaurant facing west.
It was in 1756 that the Moravian town of Lititz was born.  It began as an experiment in utopia, named after the Bohemian town of Lidice where the followers of John Hus had received sanctuary from religious persecution and formed the Moravian Church, the oldest of all Protestant denominations.  The town was actually called "Litiz" when the "Town Regulations" were adopted.  On that day in 1756, only those who signed the "Town Regulations" were allowed to live in the town.  
Restaurant of the General Sutter.
So why did the town need an Inn, such as the Sutter Inn?  It was deemed necessary for the enter- tainment of strangers and travelers, so in 1764 the inn, known at the time as "Zum Anker" (the sign of the anchor) was built.  The Inn then became the Lititz Springs Hotel and in 1930 was changed once again to the General Sutter Inn to honor John Augustus Sutter, a California Gold Rush pioneer, who lived his last seven years in Lititz, and is buried in the nearby Moravian Cemetery.  
The lobby area of the General Sutter features a large
portraiture of the namesake of the restaurant and Inn.
While in California, Sutter founded the city of Sacramento in 1839 and then saw the Gold Rush of 1849 overtake his town.  He then decided to relocate with his wife Annette in 1871 to Lititz, PA.  His home was on the opposite side of Main Street across from his Hotel.  My wife and I have eaten at the Sutter a few times, both inside and out, and have enjoyed not only our meal, but the ambiance of the hotel and restaurant.  We were not lucky enough though to have been in the Bull's Head Public House when Lady Gaga and her boyfriend made a visit.  So sorry we missed it!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Looking east from Broad Street you see the sign for the General Sutter Inn and the Bull's Head Bar.
Inside the Bull's Head Public House.  
Inside the seating area of Bull's Head Public House.
The home of General Sutter at 19 E. Main Street.


  

Friday, April 22, 2016

The "Remembering Formstone? Story

This city home has Formstone on the front of
it.  The side of the home still remains stucco.
The home next to it on the right is painted white
while the home to the left is red brick. Click on
photos to enlarge them.
It was an ordinary day.  Driving south on Prince Street, Rt. 222/272, thru center city Lancaster, PA and mentioned to my wife about all the homes in the city that still have Formstone on them.  I can remember when I was a child and the rooming house/local bar at the other end of our block on North Queen Street covered their brick walls with Formstone.  At the time it was a popular way to make you home stick out from the rest of brick homes in the block.  Many also added Formstone because of home additions whose brick didn't match the original home brick.  And, if you didn't look too hard, it did look similar to real stone.  Mom and dad talked about doing it to our semi-detached home, but finally decided the cost didn't justify having it done and Deb and Bob, the owners of the other half of the semi didn't plan on having it done.  For those who have no idea what Formstone might be or what it might look like, it was patented by Albert Knight of nearby Baltimore, MD in 1937.  
The boarding house/bar still stands at the
south corner of the last block of North Queen
Street.  The old building's Formstone is beginning
to break away in some places.  An old phone
booth still stands in front of it. Still looks like
a structure in the 1950s or 1960s. 
There were four other very similar products on the market at the time, but around our area, Formstone was the big fad.  Formstone was applied in three layers, much like stucco, anchored by a metal lath which was attached to the brick underneath it.  The layer that you see contains the coloration used to imitate stone and is textured using waxed paper and an aluminum roller.  Simulated motar joints were scored into the Formstone to give it the "real stone" look.  In 1997 a 30-minute documentary was filmed about the practice of applying Formstone.  The coproducer of the documentary, Lillian Bowers, got the idea for the film after dreaming that her father's gravestone was being covered with Formstone.  
You can see the depth of the Formstone and how it is
coming loose from the original building in this photograph.
For those who purchased a house with Formstone and hated it, it could be removed from a three-story building in a weekend, but repairing the damage the metal lath did would take much longer.  Restoring old buildings and old neighborhoods along the east coast with many houses that had Formstone, or something similar, are being done by communities who are trying to restore all homes to their original condition.  As for my old home on North Queen Street, it still remains the old stucco that it used to be.  Years ago the home owner enclosed the front porch to add a room which looked terrible when finished.  That was recently removed and now the house looks like it did when I lived there.  That is except for the huge pine tree standing in the front yard that totally ruins the look of the home.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

My childhood home, the last home on North Queen Street, with it's new front porch.  Years ago the porch, on which I played throughout my childhood,  was enclosed to make another room.  It was recently torn down and the porch refurbished.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The "The Cool Town With A History: Part IV - The Moravians & Their Square" Story


Small map showing the location of all buildings on the square.
It was an ordinary day.  Walking around Lititz Moravian Church Square admiring the buildings and snapping a few photographs to share with you to illustrate my next entry about the coolest town in America.  As you might remember reading in another recent story, a man by the name of Count Nicholas Louis von Zinzendorf of Saxony, Germany arrived in Lancaster County in 1742 to preach, the result being an offer of land to bring a Moravian settlement to the area.  By 1755, Moravians had arrived.  Count Zinzendorf named the new Warwick settlement Litiz (early spelling) on June 26, 1756, in commemoration of the Castle of Lidice and Citadelou, located in northeastern Bohemia near the Moravia border.  The Moravian church was actually begun by John Hus who, as a Catholic priest in 1402, preached his sermons in his native Czech tongue instead of Latin.  He gained many followers by preaching in the peasant tongue and challenging the Pope's practice of selling indulgences to raise money for the church.  He was later imprisoned and burned at the stake for his beliefs in 1415.  It was his small band of followers who evolved into the Moravian Church.  By 1759 the group of German converts living in Lititz celebrated their first Easter in traditional Moravian style.  The Lititiz Moravians adopted the separate housing units and communal economy of the main Moravian settlements in Bethlehem and Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  Since they wanted to keep their community pure and unified, they kept their settlement closed to non-Moravians for the next hundred years.  One of those first Moravians, William Rauch, began making pretzels about 1810 which led to the pretzel bakery located along Main Steet in Lititz (you probably read about this in another story).  Another Moravian, David Tannenburg, began manufacturing organs and pianos in the mid-1700s that became famous for their beautiful workmanship and tone.  An organ built by David still resides in the current Moravian Church in Lititz.  In 1765 a branch of the Collegia musica began in Lititz which brought together amateur musicians to play both sacred and secular music.  Today the Moravian Church Trombone Choir is well known throughout Lancaster County.  The Moravians guarded their membership closely and their founders in Lititz had the goal of living in a community where spiritual needs were the focus, not worldly concerns (much like Lancaster County's Amish sect).  An administrative committee supervised all aspects of life in Lititz.  Each resident, who had to be Moravian, was required to sign the Town Regulations of 1759 agreeing to abide by its terms of "No dancing matches; taverning (except for the necessary entertaining of strangers and travelers); beer-tappings; feasting at weddings, christenings or burials; common sports and pastimes; nor the playing of the children in the streets shall be so much heard of amongst the inhabitants.  They that have inclinations that way cannot live at Lititz."  Also, "No marriage shall be contracted or made without the privity and appropriation of the Elders and of the congregation and choirs.  Nor shall anyone attempt to promote or make secret matches."  The church owned all land and leased it to residents.  Businesses were allowed to exist with a general store, tavern, pharmacy (the first in Lancaster County) a potash factory, a gristmill and sawmill, several farms, and a few individual businesses that were approved by the Aufseher Collegium to which all businesses had to report.  All was well until 1855 when the charter changed and Lititz opened its doors to new businesses and the lease system ended with lots being sold to the homeowners and people of all faiths being welcome.  Worldliness had arrived in Lititz as it exists today.  Follow with me as I take you around the Moravian Church Square that was established in 1757.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.
This photograph shows the buildings on the left side of the square.
This photograph shows the buildings on the right side of the square.
To the far left is Linden Hall Mary Dixon Memorial Chapel built in 1885.  It is an example of High Victorian style architecture with a Germanic ambiance.  Linden Hall student Mary Dixon died of tuberculosis three years after her 1897 graduation and her father, a Bethlehem Moravian, committed the necessary funds before his death in 1884 to build the chapel.
The street marker telling about Linden Hall.
This is the Anstalt or Stengel Hall built in 1769.  It was built to accommodate students from other communities such as Lancaster and Bethlehem.  An addition to the right and rear of the building was built in 1844 as the headmaster's residence.  It also was used as student and faculty residences, offices, chapel, kitchen and dining room.
This is known as the Single Sister's House which was built in 1758.  It is the oldest building on Church Square and is to the left of the church and parsonage.  To the far left you can see the white archway that leads to Stengel Hall.  The Moravians were early believers in the education of women and this building was built to house the woman at Linden Hall.
The Moravian Church was the centerpiece of the Church Square.  The original church was consecrated on August 13, 1787.  The present-day church dates to the first renovation in 1857 when Samuel Lichtenthaeler designed a pedimented pavilion projecting to the front.  It provided an entry lobby with circular stairs to the galleries, with provisions for the choir and a new pipe organ.
The beautiful entrance into the church. 
This is the landmark spire which is the centerpiece of the church.  The spire was designed by David Tannenberg, the noted colonial organ builder, who lived in Lititz. 


This building stands to the right and rear of the church and is known as the Leichen Kappelchen or Corpse  House.  It was constructed in 1786 and is one of the architectural "gems" of Lancaster County.  Since Moravians do not allow the dead inside the church proper, their remains were housed in this house until burial.  On either end of the small building were round windows at the top to allow for ventilation inside the house.   
To the right of the Corpse House stands the Single Brothers' house which was designed by the Rev. Gottlieb Petzold in the European style.  The structure had limestone walls and Gambrel roofs with jerkin ends and shed dormers.  The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1759, but the first boarders didn't arrive until 1761.  Today the house carries a layer of stucco, but you can see on a side wall what the house looked like years ago.   General George Washington used this house as a Military Hospital from Dec. 19, 1777 to Aug. 28, 1778 to care for the wounded soldiers of the Continental Army.  This building was also used by the Medical Department of the Army of the Federated States of America as the first American Formulary or the first pharmacy in the United States.
A photo hangs on the exterior of the building which shows how the front of the building appeared when it was first built.  
To the rear of the Single Brothers' House is a section of wall showing the original limestone before a layer of stucco was added.  


The final piece of the square is the Lititz Moravian Archives & Museum building.