Bristol Tennessee High School and the Castle Stadium: PWA, TERA, and WPA on the job for the nation


A magnificent example of Colonial Revival style set within a New South industrial townscape, the Bristol Tennessee High School has been an educational and cultural landmark since its construction. (Carroll Van West, Tennessee’s New Deal Landscape, 2001, p. 124)

Features of this building, one of the two best extant examples of New Deal Colonial Revival architecture include two-story classical columns, portico, classical pediment, cupola, and fanlights with keystones at the entrance doors (Van West).

Senator Kenneth D. McKellar, Bristol mayor Fred V. Vance, and city commissioner Arthur Green had all been instrumental in bringing New Deal projects to Bristol.  In addition to the modern facility, programs offered by the high school were lauded.  A typical day included French, English, math, civics, manual arts, science, music, commercial courses, occupations courses, physical education, home economics, and drama.

Next door to the high school was their most popular achievement, the Bristol Municipal Stadium, known locally as the Stone Castle. (Van West, p. 125)

The stone was primarily local limestone from the Civil Works Administration flood control project in 1933-34.  The architectural details (“towers, battlements, arches, crenelated walls, and heavy wooden castle-like entrance doors” p. 125) contributed to the local name Stone Castle.  The stadium can seat upwards of 6,000 people.

Architect R. V. Arnold designed the stadium, which began in 1934 as a Tennessee Emergency Relief Association (TERA) project.  The stadium was about half completed when TERA ended.  Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided $60,000 of of the total $90,000 cost and the stadium was completed in 1936.  A circular tower anchors each of the four corners.

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Bachmann Publick House


The Bachmann Publick House (tavern or ale house) is the last stop for the Easton, Pennsylvania tour.  Today’s stop, as all of our streetscapes in Easton, are brought to you courtesy of the research done by local Easton historian, Richard F. Hope (Easton History).  The Bachmann Tavern consists of two stone buildings dating to the mid 1700s, and a brick addition on the rear built in 1827.  The oldest part of the tavern (not specified in Hope’s work which section was constructed first) was constructed 1753 according to the cornerstone, just one year after the town of Easton was established in 1752.  Bachmann’s tavern (or Publick House) was also used as a courtroom until the courthouse was constructed in 1765, and Benjamin Franklin attended court during the French and Indian War in the Bachmann.  George Taylor bought the tavern in 1763 following foreclosure on Bachmann.  Taylor added the second building in 1765.

Although the tavern went through a number of owners during the next 155 years, by the 1920s, some of the colonial-era windows were replaced with “large picture windows.”  The building does retain many of its original and historic features, however, which include original windows, flooring, and a 14-panelled fireplace in the tavern room.

A $1.2 million restoration was completed in 2001, but by 2006 financial difficulties resulted in closing the museum, in spite of the significant fundraising that had been accomplished between the 1970s-2001 restoration.  Northampton County took title rather than foreclose on the loan, and it became the home of the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society.

Some of you might not be surprised to learn that during the debate over the future of the building thought to be the oldest building in Easton, and carrying the prestige of being “one of the most authentic pre-Revolutionary War taverns in the United States,” one of the top considerations and favored by many was demolition of the historic property in order to build a parking lot. I wonder what would happen if it took 30 or more years to leverage enough money and consent of the governing body to construct a new Walmart–with its gigantic parking lot?

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Mount Vernon Hotel and Ale House


The former Mount Vernon Hotel and Ale House of Easton, Pennsylvania has a list of previous tenants and owners that would make your head swim!  Easton historian Richard F. Hope documented the history of this building, and its early beginnings.  The basis for the hotel was likely a brick tenement built sometime between 1831 and 1841.  It was originally a two-story building, but a third story was added sometime after 1841.  The building was identified as rental property in 1847 when it was sold, and in 1850, Preston Brock rented it and opened the Mount Vernon Hotel.  By 1875, it was described as a two-story, five-cornered tavern house.

A 1906 photograph shows it with four stories and the turret, looking much the same as it does today, with the exception of the turret cap.  It was originally a bell-shaped cap with a spire. The Kuebler Brothers owned it in 1915, but prohibition took its toll.  They were brewers, and there is some speculation according to Hope’s research that a speakeasy was operated in the building following prohibition, and that the brewery was in the stables/carriage house behind the hotel.


At the end of World War II, the Kueblers sold the hotel to Helen Snyder, who operated the hotel for the remainder of the century.  It was closed in 2004, and re-opened in 2012 as the Two Rivers Brewing Company.

Source: Easton historian Richard F. Hope, who contributes to the tour of historic buildings in the downtown historic district.

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Simon Mansion, Easton PA


This is our last walk down North Third Street, for a stop at the Simon Mansion, no. 41.  It is now known as the Third Street Alliance for Women & Children.  The “High Renaissance Chateau” was built in 1902, designed by William Marsh Michler for Herman Simon (Richard F. Hope, Easton History).

…constructed of Indiana limestone on a granite base, roofed in Vermont red slate with copper ornamentation. The interior includes ‘Spanish leather, Italian marble, ‘Delft’ (Amsterdam), Bavarian and Mercer tiles, South American mahogany and Caen stone’ with stained glass by Nicola D’Ascenzo, parquet floor and frescoed ceilings.

With 15,000 square feet and 43 rooms, the mansion properly reflected Herman Simon’s status as a silk manufacturer credited with building “the largest individual silk, ribbon and velvet manufacturing business in the world.”  That was a lot of ribbon to finance this mansion on Easton’s “Millionaires Row.”

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40 & 42 N. Third Street: Easton PA


Number 40 North Third Street in historic downtown Easton is occupied by Sweet Girlz bakery.  The 3 1/2 story red brick building next to Easton Electronics was the residence in the 1880s and 1890s of Col. W. H. Armstrong and his family (Richard F. Hope, Easton History).  Hope indicated the “Second Empire” style Mansard Roof may have been added by Armstrong, and that the entryway and entablature may be remnants of an original Greek Revival style popular prior to the Civil War.  After Armstrong’s death in 1896, his wife and family moved out and the house was rented until in 1916 it was sold.

Kari Kirchgessner and Jill Fuls opened Sweet Girlz in the commercial space in 2011.  Rand and I enjoyed cupcakes in the bakery one morning.

Number 42 North Third Street, on the corner, was the Charles Coburn Residence.  Hope described it as

3-story brown brick front building with oriel window on second floor, dental [sic] roof cornice, and decorative window and front door entablature.  The architectural style has been identified as “Greek Revival” with “Victorian features.”

Hope indicated it is likely that the house was originally built by John Shick, and that he sold it to Charles Coburn in 1840.  Coburn occupied the house 1852-1881 and operated a restaurant, saloon, and grocery story from the house.  At his death, his son continued to live in the house, and established Charles Coburn & Son grocery in the house.  The second door (to the left and closest to Sweet Girlz) was added in the 1960s.

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32 and 36 N. Third Street, Easton PA


No. 32 (brownstone building to the left in the photo) was the Hohl House, but currently is divided into apartments and a retail store.  The 3 1/2 story Second Empire style brownstone showcases the typical Mansard roof and a decorative cornice.   George Hohl, a retired baker, purchased the property in 1872, although it was several years before he occupied the house.  Richard F. Hope’s research indicates that a stone house on the property was referenced in 1867, whereas previous sales had indicated a frame house on the site.  A reference to the “brownstone residence” in 1885 is likely the same as the current brownstone, according to Hope (Easton History).  Hope has extensively researched Easton history, and published a number of books on his work. Walking Easton is a collaborative effort to promote tourism and history.


The Thomas Rinek Mansion, currently the Easton Computer & Electronics store, is an “ornate stone-fronted home, with second floor balcony protected by stone railing…” (Hope, Walking Easton).  According to Hope, it was built in 1884 and continued with family ownership into the 2oth century.

Easton’s Architectural Heritage: City of Eason Historic District Commission described it as

Romanesque style building (late Victorian 1870-1910) featuring heavy rounded arches, towers, gables, balconies, and bays…p. 4)

Rinek was president of the Northampton County National Bank, and also partnered with his brothers in a cordage company–a company that produced rope.  The building has passed through the hands of numerous owners since Rinek’s death.


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20 No. 3rd Street: former Dr. Innes House (Easton, PA downtown historic district)


Currently the home of Quadrant Book Mart & Coffee House, the Gothic/Jacobian Style house once had an indoor conservatory.  The property was sold to Charles Innes in 1847, with “right to use the Southern Wall of the Stone Messuage” (a dwelling house with outbuildings and land assigned to its use).  According to historian Richard F. Hope,

…the actual features of the house, which include ‘a polychromatic exterior finish’ (that is, a contrast of building materials colors between the stone corners and the brick walls), as well as the apparent flat root (instead of a gabled one more usual in early Gothic buildings), suggests that the visible architectural style more nearly reflects the later ‘Victorian Gothic’ of the 1860-90 period, as remodeled from an earlier, simple style of building.  That same flat roof, as well as the recessed front entry, and very simple entablatures retained above the windows, may indicate that the earlier house style was in fact ‘Greek Revival’, typical of an earlier period.

Hope also indicated that comparison of purchase and sale prices of the former owner (Beidelman) and Innes suggest that Beidelman built the house.  Dr. Innes began residence in the property at least by 1852, however.  In 1874, the current street numbering scheme was initiated, and Innes’ property became 20 No. 3rd Street.  Hope suggests that the large increase in sale price in 1887 suggested “significant improvement was made to the property” and that the 1880s was “consistent with the time period when the ‘Victorian Gothic Revival’ architectural styles were in vogue” and that the current facade could date from that period.

Hope documented the successive occupants of the first floor retail space and upper floor residences throughout the following years until in 1976, Easton Redevelopment Authority obtained the building by eminent domain.  The proposed urban renewal project to widen Church Street from Fourth to Third called for the removal of the Innes house and two buildings on 4th street.

This plan engendered a multi-year political controversy in Easton, which raged between pro-development and pro-preservation forces.

The controversy was eventually settled with widening Church street half way, and leaving the building at No. 3rd in place, though by then owned by the Northampton County Industrial Redevelopment Authority.  Bookseller Richard Epstein transferred his Quadrant Book Mart to the property in 1979, and finally was able to purchase the property in 1990, only to sell it in 2003.  It continues as a bookstore, art gallery, and meeting place for political and arts community members.

Note: The Hulick Mansion next door was constructed in 1885.  To read about it, visit the Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles.

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Northampton Street: the Sherer Building


Route 611 (Front Street) runs alongside a section of the Delaware River in Easton and intersects with Northampton Street, which extends across the Free Bridge into Phillipsburg, New Jersey.


Everything in this part of the country deals with the Colonial history of the early years of the nation.  Washington did visit a tavern in Easton (more on that later), and there was an army hospital in Easton.  Easton was strategic in location, due to having a ferry that crossed from Easton to New Jersey and warehouses that could be used for storage (Verenna, 2014, Easton’s Missing Dead).  The mural, by Robert Ranieri, depicts Sullivan’s March campaign of 1779 against the Iroquois (Richard F. Hope, Easton History)


Northampton Street has a lengthy history behind it.  The Sherer Building originally housed several businesses earlier, and the Sherer Brothers opened their first clothing and hat store for men in rented space on Northampton Street in 1880 (Richard F. Hope, Easton History). They purchased the property 4 years later, and twice enlarged the store, in 1890 and in 1904.  A photograph of the section of Northampton c. 1895 showed a four-story Italianate Building under the “Sherer Bro’s” sign, and it “did not extend as far toward Front Street,” the street to the left of the photo above.  In 1903, the Sherer Brothers purchased flood-ruined property adjacent (next to Front Street), which provided

the opportunity to construct the massive Sherer Building structure of today….A picture of the building in 1905 showed a structure looking much as it does today: three tall stories, with seven window bays: a central oriel surrounded by three double-story arched windows on each side, with picture windows on the ground floor and a bracketted [sic] moulding at the roof line. (Richard F. Hope)

Apparently, the Sherer Brothers constructed their building on top of foundations from the earlier buildings, and incorporated exterior walls of earlier buildings into the new construction.  A staircase abruptly ended at a wall on the third floor, suggesting the four-story building was cut down to three (Hope).  The Sherer heir (Samuel’s widow) sold the building in 1944, following the deaths of Samuel in 1934 and Moses in 1943.  It is currently occupied by the Kaplan family, who manufacture awnings.


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Phillipsburg, New Jersey


Phillipsburg is located at the forks of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers.  The Morris Canal started in Phillipsburg, and extended to Jersey City on the Hudson River.


Facing the Delaware River

Not only was the river important to transportation and commerce, but the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway was significant to the history of the community.  Delaware River Railroad Excursions is based out of Phillipsburg.


Union Square

Something about this stretch of downtown reminds me of Simon’s Town, in South Africa.  Phillipsburg “is no longer a common destination for durable goods on their way to and from America’s largest markets” (New Jersey Sklands,  Destination Phillipsburg).

Commerce was conducted on two rivers, three canals, five railroads, five streetcar and interurban railway companies, and numerous stagecoach, bus and truck enterprises.  Phillipsburg was also the terminus of two historic trans-New Jersey turnpikes, and the home of a number of manufacturing companies directly and heavily involved in transportation.

It has been selected to house the future New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center to preserve New Jersey history.

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Northampton Street Free Bridge


The first crossing of the Delaware River between Easton, PA and Phillipsburg, NJ was ferry in 1739, at the junction of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers.  The ferry operated for 50 years until greater commerce and travel between the two cities rendered it obsolete.

Timothy Palmer, considered one of the best bridge builders, constructed a covered wooden bridge which opened in October 1806.  Palmer’s work was so exceptional, his bridge remained standing even though storms and floods on the river caused others to fall (Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission).  Increasing volume of traffic and use of trolley cars resulted in the need for yet another new bridge.


James Madison Porter III designed the current bridge in 1896.  Northampton Street Bridge is one of the oldest and most unique bridges operated by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.

It’s an engineering landmark.  Only one other cantilever bridge of this particular style…spans the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary. (Frank McCartney, Executive Director of the bi-state Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission)

The bridge is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

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