Troxell Steckel House

Taking pictures of historic architecture is even more fun when there’s a family connection.  John Peter Troxell is a descendent of mine, seven generations back, on my mother’s side.  Uncle John finished this incredible stone house in 1756, when he and his family (including my great, great, great, great, grandfather) owned much of Whitehall Township in Lehigh County.  The description on the historic marker says it best, calling the house “fortress like”.  The inscription between the second story windows reads in German, “God protect this house from all danger, for our room is under heaven”  John Peter Trachsel and Maria Magdala.

When I’ve gone inside, beside the thick stone walls, I always notice the short door frames.  I’m six feet tall and have to duck to enter the front door, and also between the rooms inside the house.

During my last visit, the house was open daily.  But as you can see the house is now open for tours and by appointment only.  A nice surprise this visit was the sight of a new rail trail, the Ironton Rail Trail (http://www.irontonrailtrail.org/), that passes by the property along Coplay Creek.

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Bethlehem Works, Now Steel Stacks

Bethlehem steel was the epicenter of the industrial revolution in America.  Many iconic buildings began here, their steel backbones shaped, formed and finished by the hardworking people of Bethlehem.

With the steel industry now gone, Bethlehem is preserving and promoting its history.  The center of the Bethlehem Steel foundry, last operational in 1995, has now become Steel Stacks.  As you can see in the picture below, a walking platform has been built around what operated as Blast Furnace A, one of seven blast furnaces that once occupied the site.  Next to the furnace, is now an amphitheater that draws national acts and local events.

Beth

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Good News!

Admittedly I’ve been ignoring this site for the a couple of years.  Adding a new kid to the family, training for marathons and coaching little league will do that.  However, I wanted to post some welcome news about Highland Hall in Hollidaysburg.  In previous posts, I talked about the decline of Highland Hall, and its inclusion on Preservation Pennsylvania’s list of the 10 most endangered historic sites in Pennsylvania.

Recently, there’s been an extremely positive development.  S&A Homes, a homebuilder out of State College with an active affordable housing program, successfully applied for PHFA tax credits that will enable the redevelopment of Highland Hall into a 53 unit senior housing complex.  This after two initial applications to the same tax credit program were denied.  Whew!  With rumors of demolition swirling around, and the ever present threat of vandalism or even arson, this news was tremendously important to the residents of Hollidaysburg and its historic district.

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Williamsport

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The number of people downtown on a Saturday was quite remarkable. I peeked my head in the Bullfrog Brewery around noon, hoping it would be open for a bite to eat. I couldn’t believe that there were 25 or so … Continue reading

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Gallitzin – Victoria Theater

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Built in 1919, the records of the Gallitzin Fire Company show the Victoria Theater survived a fire in 1921. Following this early happenstance, it was home to traveling vaudeville acts. In the 1960’s, local lore has it that the showing … Continue reading

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