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of Freeland, Pa.
A conversation about steeples on the Washington Hotel and the Borough Building
This was posted in the Featured Photos section of the home page in late 2017.
Charlie was looking at an old postcard of the Bethel Baptist church, wondering about the oddly-shaped steeple seen at the end of the block on the left. Here are the postcard images of the Bethel Baptist church (postmarked 1913) and the Borough building (postmarked 1907) that Charlie sent me, and he asked when the Borough building was built, and if it was built with the tower. I sent him some information from Charlie Stumpf's history of Freeland and an enlargement of that steeple part of the postcard with the opinion that we were looking at two steeples, but in the meantime he had also figured that out and he sent the cropped detail shown below on which he highlighted the two steeples. He wrote: The Hotel / Bar at 11 West Walnut is in front of the borough building (as the borough building is set back from Walnut). The hotel steeple is outlined in red, the borough building in yellow.
I read his note, looked at the images he sent, and remembered a photo that Mr. Deitos senior allowed me to make a cell phone copy of several years ago. It shows the Washington Hotel, run by Al Goeppert and located on Walnut Street next to the Tigers Club, not far from the intersection of Walnut and Centre. Here at right is Mr. Deitos's photo of the hotel, along with a photo of the Tigers Club (as seen on eBay) during the 1906 Pearl Jubilee - you can see the same hotel to the left of the Club. Here too at left is a detail from the 1895 Sanborn map showing the two buildings (the address numbers are from an earlier numbering system). The Washington Hotel is mentioned (sometimes along with Mr. Goeppert's name) in Freeland directories from 1886-1888, 1897, 1901-1902, and is shown on Sanborn maps as the location of a saloon in 1895, 1900, 1905; in 1912 the map specifically named the Washington Hotel there. Charlie saw his name in a list of people applying for liquor licenses in 1892. So the Washington Hotel is what the first of the two steeples in the Bethel Baptist church postcard belonged to.
Meanwhile, there was Charlie's question of when the Borough building was built, and whether it was built with the tower. I am assuming that the building was built with the tower/steeple. Charlie Stumpf gives the date as 1884. Charlie Gallagher set out to confirm it by visiting the Borough building, where he was allowed access to the 2nd floor and photographed the two plaques shown here. Charlie, thank you for sharing these photos!
Nicely done, so it's 1900 for this building. I wrote back to him to thank him, expressed interest in the "public library and reading room," and I asked where he thought the Borough Council was meeting for all those years before the borough building was built? The 1873 Freehold map shows a town hall on Ridge between Front and Walnut. The 1895 map shows Freeland Hall (built 1891) where Woodie's was later, and doesn't show the Ridge street town hall. So maybe all of their Council meetings were at the Ridge Street town hall before 1891, and then they met at Freeland Hall for a few years after that? BUT Charlie Stumpf mentioned (page 7) a Borough Building being erected in 1884 that had a Council room and a jail. Maybe there was a small building (just a council room and jail) built in 1884 that was used until the current building was built? Wonder where that would have been? The current site wasn't donated by the Knights of Labor until 1899, according to Stumpf.
Here are some relevant notes from the Stumpf book:
- The meeting to decide the new name of Freehold was held at the town hall in 1876 (page 7).
- At the 2nd meeting of the Council in 1876 it was decided to build a small jail at Pine and Johnson streets, which was used until 1884 when the Borough Building was erected (page 7).
- Land for the Freeland Municipal Building was donated by the Freeland Chapter of the Knights of Labor. Construction began in August 1899. The Council first met there on December 10, 1900 (page 15).
There are still unanswered questions there, but regarding the reading room / public library, Charlie replied: From my understanding of the borough building, the reading room / library was the north side of third floor. This was one large room.
First Floor: Police Office, Borough Secretary Office, Police Holding Cell, Men's Room, Women's Room, Fire Garage.
Second Floor: Council Chamber, Council Secretary Office, Citizen's Hose Company Office, Office (later Magistrate Office), Men's Room, Women's Room, Storage Closet.
Third Floor: Engineer's Office, Storage / Records Room, Reading Room / Library.
Thank you, Charlie Gallagher, and I'm remembering Charlie Stumpf with appreciation for all of his work. If anyone knows what the 1884 date in Charlie Stumpf's book on page 7 refers to, please let me know and I'll post it here!