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Thursday, January 12, 2017

The "Strasburg, Pennsylvania - Part II: Americana Personified" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading the "Strasburg Heritage Society" website and learning so many facts and interesting tidbits that I never knew before.  I have lived my entire life in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and still feel I know so little about the history of the county.  Yesterday's story dealt with the establishment of the town of Strasburg which has been voted one of the ten most historic and picturesque town in America.  In the early 1800s the town drew travelers, immigrants and craftsmen who honed their skills in trades such as blacksmithing, carriage making and tanning.  
The Limestone Inn from 1786.
Wasn't long before houses of logs, stone and brick lined both sides of Main Street.  Inn keepers and taverns drew those traveling along the Conestoga Road, the first frontier road in Lancaster County.  Strasburg's first tavern was built in 1729 by Edward Dougharty. The Edward Dougharty family and the Christian Herr family, who both owned considerable property, subdivided their vast land acquisitions in 1751 into 300 one-acre lots.  By June of that year 210 of the 300 lots changed hands.  Before long there was a shopkeeper, two innkeepers, two blacksmiths, one cooper and one weaver on the tax roles.  By the end of the 18th century, Strasburg was the second largest town in Lancaster County.  
Front view of the Limestone Inn.
Then in 1794 the Philadelphia to Lancaster Turnpike was finished and that paved road drew traffic away from Strasburg.  By 1815 Strasburg had dropped to the fifth largest town in the county. As I walked along Main Street today, taking photographs of the many original houses and watching and hearing the many Amish buggies pass by me, I wondered if the town has really changed all that much since its inception in the early 1700s.
Plaques tell the story.  Click to enlarge.
 I realize its not the same as it was centuries ago when Native Americans lived and hunted the acres and acres of land all around me, but is it really that much different.  Sure, there are macadam streets, power lines and automobiles, but life in Strasburg still has that country atmosphere to it.  As I stopped in front of one old home that displayed a sign in the window telling it was a printing company and focused my camera, a gentleman came from along the side of the house to ask why I was taking photos.  After I told him he invited me into his home to talk and see the presses he has used for years and years.  My wife was waiting in the car so I had to turn him down, but told him I would take him up on the invitation in the near future.  Further down Main Street another gentleman greeted me and told me he loved when people took photographs of his town.  When I returned to the car my wife suggested he may have been the Mayor.  Sorry I didn't think to ask him.  Well, time to show you some of the neat houses that line Main Street in this historic town known as Strasburg, Pennsylvania.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

A row of houses built in 1793.
The row of homes bears the plaques from The Strasburg Trust and the Lancaster County Historic Preservation Trust.
This stand-along brick home is in remarkable condition.
It too sports the plaques that tell of the 1874 home.
A favorite of mine.  Love the color combination.  Can't imagine how ofter these houses must have to be painted.
Closeup of the front door.
This home is dated 1887.
Just a beautiful home with stone wall around it.
Dated 1903. 
I love the door and window panels along either side of the door.
This is the Homsher Printing Company at 140 West Main St.
1858 displayed on the plaque.
This semi-attached home at 53-55 East Main is in remarkable condition.

It is dated 1852.

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