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Williamsburg Borough


Williamsburg Borough Hall is located at 305 East Second Street, Williamsburg PA 16693; phone: 814-832-2051.

Borough of Williamsburg, Blair County, PA 16693

Beginnings [1]

Williamsburg was originally known as Aketown, named after Jacob Ake (1754-1838), a German immigrant who founded the town in 1795. Ake hired Patrick Cassidy (1744-1828), a well-known surveyor from Newry, Pennsylvania, to lay out his new town in August 1795. Cassidy, who drew up many of the oldest town plans in Huntingdon and Blair Counties, created a variation on the ancient orthogonal pattern first established in Pennsylvania by William Penn's 1682 plan for Philadelphia. Williamsburg has a regular grid layout with a central public square at the intersection of High and First (Front) Streets, its two main streets. Around this square, often called a "diamond" in central Pennsylvania, Cassidy provided for 120 fifth-of-an-acre lots that Ake leased for an annual ground rent, a fairly common regional practice that continued in Williamsburg well into the late 19th century. The borough acquired its present name about 1810 when Jacob Ake renamed the town for his son William.

Between c.1800 and 1831, Williamsburg functioned as a milling and iron-making settlement that traded periodically with rafts on the Juniata River and Conestoga wagons on the Huntingdon, Cambria and Indiana Turnpike. With the opening of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal in 1832, the town operated as a canal port for iron manufacturers and local farmers until 1875. During the post-Civil War period (1877-1902), after the canal went out of business and was replaced by a railroad, Williamsburg increasingly became a commercial center for local stone quarries and a market town for growing farms in the area. With the construction of a large paper mill in 1903, the town shifted its commercial focus again, this time toward the manufacture of paper products.

  1. Richards, Frederick L., Richard C. Sutter & Assoc., Williamsburg Historic District, nomination document, 1994, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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