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Pine St Business District

Pine St Business District

When the Crane Bridge closed to public traffic in 1904, forcing everyone back onto the Race St toll bridge or the North Catty – Hokendauqua Bridge, it prompted the borough to erect a public bridge at the foot of Pine St.   The Pine St Bridge formally opened in 1908.  The banner pic above was taken in 1940.  In 1953, the bridge was replaced and a traffic light installed.  This was the second traffic light in Catasauqua; the first being at the Five Points intersection of Howertown, Second and Union.
 The first block of Pine St on the south side was a foundry into the early 1900s, after which a theater was built.  Its now the Catty Mart gas station.  On the north side of Pine St was a blacksmith shop.  After the Union Foundry moved, homes were built on the south side of Pine above Railroad and down Second St.
The area north of Pine St was originally part of the Peter farm.  After the Crane was built, Peter sold off acrage to David Thomas along with lots to others.  His farmhouse was located on the west side of Front, at Walnut St.

Name: Union Foundry & Machine Company                         
Location: SE corner of Front and Pine           
Year built: 1851
Built by: John and George Fritz, B.F. Stroud, Isaac E. Chandler

Allied industries for fabrication using pig iron grew up rapidly around the Crane furnaces.  The first iron-related business to open in Catasauqua after the Crane, was the Union Foundry and Machine Company c. 1850, labeled “22” on the 1873 map.  Before steel technology was developed, foundries improved the strength of iron by adding more carbon to the pig iron using puddling furnaces, then reforming the material either through recasting or the use of rolling mills to make plate.  Final machining of the pieces was also a critical part of foundry operations.  The Union Foundry and Machine Co in Catasauqua was the first foundry in the Lehigh Valley to cast iron into columns for construction purposes.  It was here from 185 to 1901. .  The 1876 map shows this foundry at the SE corner of Front and Pine, site of the current gas station.  It was enlarged over the years until it outgrew the neighborhood, then in 1901 relocated to a 7 acre site between the canal and river along the north side of Race St, where it operated until 1905.

The Union Foundry and Machine Shop was established by John Fritz, later of Bethlehem Iron Company fame and inventor of the three-high rolling mill, with his brother George Fritz and brother-in-laws B. F. Shroud and Isaac E. Chandler.  The foundry included puddling furnaces and rolling mills to make materials for building blast furnaces and rolling mills.  But Fritz, known for continuous introduction of improvements, was soon disenchanted with the design of the foundry and decided it would not be profitable without more capital investment.  Within a year he moved on to become superintendent at the new Cambria Works in Johnston and, in 1854, sold the Union Foundry to David Thomas and William Michel.  Little is known of Wm Michel, save he owned the lot along Second between Pine and Strawberry; his home being there.  He later sold his interest to David Thomas, making him the sole owner.
Thomas invited many of his friends from Wales to come to Catasauqua.  One life-long friend was Oliver Williams, who Thomas hired to manage the Catasauqua Manufacturing Co (CMCo).   In 1869, Thomas sold the Union Foundry business to Oliver Williams, David Williams (Oliver’s brother), and William P. Hopkins who enlarged the business, adding a horseshoe shop which can be seen on the 1885 Sanborn.  Oliver Williams built the Tudor-style home at the corner of Second and Pine, catty-corner to his friend David Thomas.

Oliver Williams went on to create the Bryden Horseshoe Company which would buy raw material from the foundry and CMCo.  Oliver Williams and a nephew, J. Arthur Williams, incorporated the foundry after the death of David Williams and moved the firm onto a 7 acre site along Race St. between the canal and river.  Oliver Williams died in 1904 and the business ceased operating in 1905.  The Union Foundry had so outgrown the site, that it was a frequent source of irritation to the residents.  The foundry often piled items in the street that were ready for shipment, blocking off traffic.  Automobiles were now sharing the streets with horses/buggies/wagons.  Plus bike riding became very popular in the late 1890s.  Detritus left in the streets along the foundry were a hazard for bicycles and bicycle tires.

After the Union Foundry moved, John Ebelhauser setup a carousel on the site.  It started out as a popular atrraction, but in October of 1908, an injunction was brought against him by the neighbors declaring the steam from the boiler, the noise from the whistle, and the music of organ to be a nuisance.  They were apparently successful in shutting it down. Dugan and Lynch opened an automotive garage on part of the site facing Pine.  The Lynch and Dugan garage used the base of the merry-go-round when they set up their garage (see 115-117 Pine). In 1909, the Majestic Theater was built on the site facing Front. The relocation of the foundry out of the neighborhood also triggered the movement of businesses from lower Front St up to this part of town. 

Name:  Majestic/Savoy Theater
Year built: 1909                                    
Built by: W. H. Wentz

William H. Wentz was considered a pioneer in the motion picture business.  He and his brother first opened a nickolet (charged a nickel) before building the Majestic Theater at Front and Pine.  (see 1908 Sanborn map section below.)  They expanded the theater in 1914 going from 200 seats to 705.  Wentz also enclosed the lobby providing a more elegant movie going experience. 
Wentz was civic minded, sponsoring a local baseball team and fitting the ground next to his building for seasonal sports.  The movie ad was taken from a 1922 issue of the CHS Black & White publication.

Wentz sold the theater in 1933 to William G. Humphries, who changed its name to Savoy.  Stanley Nyquist, was the proprietor of teh Savoy from 1933-1948.  He was originally from Reading, but lived in town on St. John’s St, 1933-1948.  In the late 40s he hired kids in town to mow his lawn in exchange for letting them into the movies for free.  Later Michael Golomb of Coply was the proprietor.  The theater seated 546.  The theater closed in 1962 and was torn down shortly afterward.  The picture of the Savoy was taken just before it closed.  The last movie shown here was Jason and The Argonauts.

1908 Sanborn map

Address: 601-605 Front St                                              
Name: Cigar Store/Heckenberger’s Drug Store/Pies-On Pizza

Year Built: between 1873-1876 
Across the street from the foundry, Henry & Mary Swartz were the early proprieters of a cigar business in 603 Front.  Later, as shown in the 1885 Sanborn map. the building housed a general store on the Pine St side (601, run by William Weisley and his wife Laura who lived above the store), a tailor business at 603 (unknown), and a stoves and tinware business at 605, run by Charles Schneider.  Later, Fred Hunter owned the building; and Jonas Kemmerer ran the cigar store and cigar manufacturing business here at 603 until 1890, at which time Hunter sold the building and business to John Laubach.  Laubachs lived on the premises while running the cigar factory and retail business.  Laubach stopped manufacturing his own cigars here in 1911, but continued to run the retail cigar store, which now operated around the back of 601, facing Pine. The stoves and tinshop of Charles Schneider in 605 expanded, but by 1902, the tinshop was replaced with a laundry.  
By 1908, 605 Front had become a restaurant:  Henry Zieser and William Edgar opened a lunch room at the corner of Front & Walnut in 1902, before moving to 605 Front St.  After that, William Edgar became the sole owner and his widow Mazie (or Mary) Edgar continued the business after 1908.  Wm and Laura Weisley’s daughter Mamie taught music out of their home at 603.  

Mrs Cora Heckenberger bought 601 Front St in 1920 and remodeled the larger building to accommodate the expanded drug store run by her and her son William W. Heckenberger, the pharmicist.  Heckenbergers original drug store continued to operate at 145 Front St.   Angelo’s shoe repair also was located here in the early 1920’s before moving to Bridge St above Second.  The 1929/1930 directory lists a women’s apparel business at 605 Front run by Rose H. Arthur (she lived at 545 Pine). Jack “Sterners Drugstore” replaced Heckenbergers, who in turn sold the pharmacy to Hartzell.  Hartzell’s Pharmacy later moved to Second & Church, then to American St.  Pies-On Pizza opened here in 1992, expanding and moving to its present location in 2015.

Other site history:  A reference was found for Wm Heckenberger apprenticing with druggist John Black at his “drug store on Front above Bridge”.  It is possible that the business occupied a portion of this property in the late 1870s, early 1880s. John Black’s business earlier was on the lower end of Front St.

Address:  114-120 Pine St
A blacksmith shop was opened here by John Koons in 1855.  James Fahler succeeded him in 1867 and ran it for over 50 years in partnership with his son.  In an 1890 directory, James Fahler was identified as a horseshoer working here (and living at 3rd and Walnut) as was Henry Buck (living on Second St, two doors up from the Upper Second Street school).  Buck is also shown as co-owner of the blacksmith shop at that time.  Fahler did alot of work for the Crane and the ‘iron carters’, such as repairing wagons & wagon wheels, and horseshoing.  The Crane Stable was located on Second near Church; the telephone company currently occupies that site.  In 1917, news articles in the Allentown Leader & Democrat mention a fire at 104 Pine in a tobacco and confectionary shop run by James E Beltz.  The fire was started by an exploding kerosene lamp; the building was owned by Fahler.
The Allen Service Station was at 116 Pine, as listed in the Catasauqua Borough Directories of 1921,1922.  Llewellyn M James and Walter Kratzer were proprietors.  This was likely where the blacksmith shop was.

In 1923, Lynch and Dugan reportedly purchased “The Village Blacksmith Shop”, otherwise known as Pappy Fahler’s, (and probably already the Allen Service Station) and added on to the front of the blacksmith shop a modern automotive repair shop and showroom, expanding their garage and car sales business (Ford Motor Co agents) on the opposite side of the street.  They subsequently switched from Ford to Hudson/Essex sales, to Flint/Durant/Star, and, in 1928, back to Ford.  In 1932 they dropped car sales and continued with auto repair and servicing.  In 1944, A. J. Heckenberger and his two sons established their garage business here at 120 Pine St.   The vintage photo is on display at the Pies-On Pizzeria.
More recently, the location housed Catty Beverage, a beer distributorship, before its current conversion to a restaurant associated with Pies-On’s expansion.  Catty Beverage moved to the NW side of Race St.

Address:  115-117 Pine St – SW corner of Pine & Railroad
Name:  Catasauqua Garage  
Year built: 1911              

Built by:  Lynch & Dugan

Phillip Lynch (pictured at right) and Nicholas Dugan were the first men in the automotive business in Catasauqua.  Their first garage, behind the Majestic, used a Merry Go Round structure, as can be seen in the 1913 Sanborn map section.  The business was first started by Charles Wentz and Nicholas Dugan started the shop in 1911; later that year Philip Dugan purchased Wentz’ interest,  They repaired cars, supplied parts, stored and grromed cars, and supplied cars for hire.


The Catasauqua Garage was the only local dealer for the Lion Motor Car. In Oct 1911, the Allentown reports:  “B. W. Holt, representative of the Lion Motor Car Company, visited the Catasauqua garage with a 1912 model touring car. He is visiting all the Lion agencies In Pennsylvania. He was well pleased with the facilities of the Catasauqua Auto Company to handle their cars and expects to see many of them in use in this section in the near future. The Catasauqua garage has not only the agency of Lehigh county but also In Northampton and Carbon counties.” 

In 1927 J. P Willard was the proprietor of the repair garage here .  The Catasauqua Garages offices, and parts store was  here, across across the street from the showroom and garage at 114-116 Pine St.  Philip Lynch and his wife Anna resided at 115 Pine; Susan Lynch (widow of Thomas Lynch, WWI hero) resided at 115 Pine in 1930.  

Other Occupants:In the 1950”s 117 ½ Pine was a meat market operated by Elwood P. Smith.  He previously worked at the A&P.   This strip has been home to many shops, coffee shops, businesses and restaurants over the years.  Joe Geigel opened the Town Radio and Television Shop at 110 Pine in 1951, before moving to 609 Front St.

Address: 119 Pine St
Name: Office of Dr. John Schneller, Sr/Dr. Carl J.Newhard
Year built: 1890
Built by: Charles G. Schneller

Charles G. Schneller, who built the Schneller Block at Front & Strawberry in 1854, had two sons and a daughter who were still living when he retired in 1887 and built the homes here on Pine St and around the corner on Second.  His son Charles W. followed him into the tin business and his son John P became a doctor.   
Dr. John Schneller, Sr. was the son of Charles W. Schneller.  He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1910 and opened up a practice at 532 Second St in 1911, later moving into the office at 119 Pine.  Dr Schneller is shown in the Old HOme Wee Hospital Corps photo, the tall man on the far right.

Upon Dr. Schneller’s death in 1934, Dr. Carl J. Newhard opened his practice here, later moving to 218 Pine St. He resided in Hokendauqua, and practiced there before moving into the office at 119 Pine.  In 1948, Dr William R. Dewar started his practice here.  A naval reservist, he joined the CCC (Civil Conservation Corps) for a year of active duty in 1950, before returning to his practice in 1952.

 Site History:  Above the foundry, east of Railroad St, the land was owned by William Michel, who was an investor in the Union Foundry with David Thomas after Fritz sold it off.  Along with Owen Swartz and George Schneller, he was one of the elders in the first Evangelical church to be built in Catasauqua.  The land above Railroad was purchased by C. G. Schneller after the Union Foundry vacated the premises and he developed by this row of homes and the homes around the corner on Second between Pine & Strawberry.