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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The "Strasburg, Pennsylvania - Part I: Houses From The Past" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Close to zero degrees and I'm standing in the middle of Main Street taking photos of one of the most amazing log cabins in downtown Strasburg, Pennsylvania.  Was sitting at home most of the day when I asked Carol if she was up for a photo shoot for a story I wanted to write about the historic town of Strasburg which is about a twenty minute drive from Lancaster.  "Sounds like fun as long as I don't have to get out of the car," she told me.  Strasburg is located in southern Lancaster County to the southeast of the city of Lancaster.  Sits smack dab on the intersection of Routes 896 and 741, just south of Route 30.  It was in 1693 that French hunter and fur tracer, Pierre Bezaillion, established a trading post and began trading with the local Delaware Indians.  Soon more French Huguenots arrived from France's Alsace region.  
The center of town: Main and Decatur Streets.
Strasburg didn't get its name until the mid-1700s when the French settlers named the town in honor of Strasbourg, the cathedral city of their Alsace homeland.  Strasburg prospered as a stagecoach stop between Philadelphia and Lancaster with crude log homes, taverns, overnight accomodations and entertainment.  The Conestoga Wagon traffic and trade led to a growing economy.  In the late 1700s the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, or modern day Route 30, was built, bypassing Strasburg and causing it to become more a town than a stopping point on a journey to another location.  By the early 1800s a church, school and post office could be found in town. By 1815 there were 90 houses with about half of them being two stories which signified a prosperous population.  Log, brick and stone houses dotted the landscape.  
Banners on many of the telephone poles.
About half of the log homes survive today as well as 12 of the brick houses and all four of the stone homes.  As of 2000 the population included 2,800 people with a racial makeup of: 97.64% White, .5% African American, .07% Native American, .86% Asian and the rest from other races.  I have traveled to Strasburg for years, since my Aunt, Uncle and cousins lived there and my Uncle's family farmed on the outskirts of town.  Today I'm only concentrating on about half-a-dozen blocks on Main Street which runs east to west and crosses at the center of town on Decatur Street.  I have chosen to show some of the original houses that have survived since the 1700s with all displaying a plaque presented by the Heritage Society of Strasburg.  Hope you enjoy the houses as much as Carol and I enjoyed visiting them. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This beautiful stone home is one of many stand-along homes in Strasburg.
The home is dated 1754 as shown on this wall plaque presented by the Heritage Society of Strasburg.
This is the only church I found along Main Street.  It is St. Michael's Evangelical Lutheran Church and was founded in 1806.  To the side of the church sits their cemetery.
A Lancaster County plaque and Strasburg plaque are underneath the church plaque on 40 East Main.
One of two log homes I photographed.  It is in beautiful shape.
More detail can be seen in this photo.  I wish I could have seen inside the home, but didn't ask.
Very simple front door with nothing more than a small bannister to help you step into the house.  
This log cabin also has not only the Strasburg Heritage Society plaque, but the Lancaster County Historic Preservation Trust Plaque.  
This log cabin was painted white and I didn't realize it was a log cabin until I got closer to it.  It too is in great condition and another original home from when Strasburg began. 
Extremely plain door with lantern next to the door and plaque on the opposite side.
This home is dated 1776, perhaps one of the first homes in Strasburg.
It has a boot scraper next to the front door on a stone slab.

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