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of Freeland, Pa.
Freeland Hall and the DePierro Bros. building
What's on this page:
To orient us: these two large buildings occupied the sites that would later hold Woodie's and the First National Bank. The smaller Notions shop to the left would later be the site of Gordon Feissner's hardware store. The photo at left comes to us from Ed Merrick. In the Panorama book Freeland (p. 9), Charles Stumpf wrote: "The year of 1890 was a very eventful one in Freeland. The borough had grown to a population of 1,735. The community had a fire company with two carriages, a hook and ladder unit and 750 feet of hose. It was now ready to begin work on a sewer system. New buildings on Centre Street were those of the DePierro brothers, as well as Freeland Hall."
From Freeland's early days, the intersection of Centre and Front streets was considered to be the heart of the town, and especially of the business district. So when Freeland Hall / the P.O.S. of A. building and the DePierro Bros. building were built, that area was a prime location for them.
The first floor of the DePierro Brothers' building held their restaurant, and it was also headquarters for the DePierro Brothers orchestra.
The first floor of Freeland Hall was occupied by Joseph Neuburger's department store, while the two upper floors were "lodge rooms" where the P.O.S. of A. had its local headquarters and where other organizations were also able to reserve space for meetings of various kinds. At present I don't know whose Notions shop that was to the left of Freeland Hall. On or in front of the left side of that smaller building is a sign for A. A. Bachman - I see that the 1895 city directory lists an Alfred A. Bachman in that general area who sold wallpaper; in the 1886-1888 directory there's a listing for an Alfred A. Bachman who was a painter and lived on east Walnut street. The photo at right came to us from John Zubach.
Interestingly, both the photos from Ed Merrick and John Zubach appear to have been taken around the same time. The decorations on the buildings seem the same, as do the signs on the telephone pole across the street. However, oddly enough, in the Merrick photo (taken from the northwest corner) one of the upstairs windows in the DiPierro Bros. building seems to be missing. I'm not sure how to account for that. In the Zubach photo you can see a faint image of someone crossing the street, while the Merrick photo shows a lot of people, dressed up for an event of some kind.
The local P.O.S. of A. camps were celebrating their 39th anniversary in 1886, as noted in the clipping here. Freeland Hall had not yet been built, and so after the parade the celebration exercises and a grand ball were held at Donop's Hall. The Freeland Hall building has recorded on its front peak that it was built or finished in 1891 for the P.O.S. of A., or Patriotic Order Sons of America - beneath the date it is labeled Freeland Hall and then, further below that, Washington Camp, P.O.S. of A. The center peak at the top of the building is capped by an eagle perched on a ball, wings spread. Here are a few cropped details from the Zubach photo.
Some of you will remember that in 2017 the new owner of the former Woodies' building was having renovation done, and behind a wall in one of the upstairs rooms was found a cache of papers from what I assume were the early days of the building. I seem to remember that the papers were given to staff of the Hazleton Standard Speaker, who then gave them to the Freeland Historical Society. This photograph of one of the P.O.S. of A. letters appears here thanks to the kindness of Ed Socha and the Freeland Historical Society. You see that this letter dated March 10, 1894 was sent by H. L. Edmunds, [Recording?] Secretary of the local group, in an effort to prevent having parades and concerts in Freeland on Sundays.
At the top left of this webpage is an enlargement of the image of Freeland Hall as it appears on the local camp's letterhead.
And finally, thinking of the first floor businesses in these two large buildings, here are two advertisements, one from an early city directory for the DePierro Bros. Cafe, the other an advertising button for Joseph Neuberger's store. The Cafe boasted wines, whiskies and cigars, the finest bar in town, with meals served at all hours. Neuburger's advertised itself here as "Freeland's only modern department store," the button having a 1902 "Indian-head" penny embedded in it.
Elsewhere on this website is a preliminary page about the local P.O.S. of A. showing a photograph of six of Nadine Heckler's family members wearing their P.O.S. of A. banners. More information will be added to it at some point.