Wyalusing Borough Historic District
The Wyalusing Borough Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.
The Wyalusing Borough Historic District is located on the north side of Wyalusing Creek approximately 2,000 feet from its confluence with the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. Wyalusing is located in the southeast corner of Bradford County, 15 miles southeast of Towanda, the county seat. US Route 6 (State St.) meets State Route 701 (Taylor Ave. and Church St.) near the southern end of the district. The town is on a low bluff above the creek bed and is laid out in a rough grid. Wyalusing Borough Historic District architectural styles include Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Stick, Queen Anne, Eastlake, Shingle, Classical Revival and Colonial Revival. Most buildings are two stories in height and of frame construction. Houses in the Wyalusing Borough Historic District are primarily detached, single-family dwellings, while commercial buildings are often connected to one another, sometimes with a party wall. There are 186 buildings within the district, most constructed between 1840 and 1930; 168 buildings (90%) are contributing and 18 (10%) are non-contributing. Residential buildings represent 78% of the contributing buildings and contributing commercial buildings represent 18%. Other functions (churches etc.) are 4% of the contributing buildings. The Wyalusing Borough Historic District retains its integrity.
The western section of the district is laid out in a grid with Second Street, First Street, and Church Street running parallel to each other on a northeast/southwest axis. Senate Street and the two southeastern blocks of Marsh Street are perpendicular to First Street. State Street (Rt. 6) is diagonal to the grid in the southern end of the district. In the northern and eastern portions of the district, streets are aligned with Gaylord Street, which runs south to north, and Taylor Avenue, which continues the line of Church Street from southwest to northeast. The lowest elevation in the district is along Bridge Street near the Wyalusing Creek. The land rises sharply in the north end of the district along Gaylord Street. The Wyalusing Borough Historic District covers approximately 177 acres.
The oldest part of the town is the neighborhood bounded by Main, Front, Church, and Prospect streets near Wyalusing Creek. Main Street was the primary business street starting in the 1840's. By 1869, most of the town's buildings were clustered along Church Street, Front Street and Main Street. Houses on Canal and John streets close to the old canal basin also date from the 1860's. Only a handful of buildings were located north of the intersection of Main and Church streets in 1869.
Main Street commercial buildings are adjacent to the sidewalk, except for the two surviving Greek Revival houses, which have modest setbacks. The houses on Front, Church and Canal streets have small front lawns. Contributing buildings in this area of the district are primarily frame two-story buildings constructed between 1840 and 1905. Predominant styles are Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Eastlake and Stick.
Residential development in the 1869-1884 period took place along Taylor Avenue and in the 100 block of Gaylord Street. Houses have small front lawns on Gaylord Street and larger lawns on Taylor Avenue. During this period, a few commercial buildings appeared on the 100 block of Taylor Avenue, typically sited adjacent to the sidewalk. Contributing buildings in this area of the district, both residential and commercial, are mostly two stories and of frame construction, built between 1865 and 1930. Styles predominating in this area include Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival.
New residential neighborhoods developed between 1885 and 1897. First and Second streets were opened in the western end of the district, crossing Senate Street and ending at Marsh Street. New houses were added along Gaylord Street both as infill and new development on its northern end. Setbacks in these parts of the district allow for small front yards. Contributing buildings in these neighborhoods are primarily 2 1/2 story, of frame construction, built between 1885 and 1930. The vast majority of these buildings are Queen Anne style, although Colonial Revival, Italianate, Gothic Revival and vernacular Craftsman are represented.
Between 1897 and 1930, most development took place at the edges of the Wyalusing Borough Historic District. State Street in the south part of the district and the northern ends of Gaylord and Marsh streets were built up by 1920. By 1900, Third, Pearl, Pleasant and East streets were opened to residential development. Historic buildings in these areas are mostly 2 1/2 story frame construction, and the majority are Queen Anne, along with several Colonial Revival and vernacular Craftsman style houses.
Of the 186 buildings in the district, 38 are commercial buildings and 141 are residential. A few churches, a Masonic Lodge and a library round out the stock of principal buildings. A number of outbuildings, mostly small barns and garages, survive in the district, although many have lost integrity. None of these outbuildings are included in the resource count.
Greek Revival houses are the oldest buildings in the Wyalusing Borough Historic District. The house and office of Dr. Daniel Scoville (113 Main Street, c.1840, now Iddings Insurance), retains the most original detailing. A simple temple-form house with pilastered corners, pedimented and pilastered doorway and pedimented gable end, this two-story frame building has an early 20th Century display window which replaced the original ground floor windows. Another Greek Revival house (121 Main Street, c.1840) has been altered by the addition of large show windows and porches but retains a full entablature in its gable end and an original entrance with pilastered surround. A later storefront adjoins 121 Main Street. Both 113 and 121 Main Street are set a few feet back from the sidewalk, unlike the other Main Street buildings.
Italianate houses are primarily located in the southern part of the district and are not heavily embellished. The Courtland Van Dyke House at 206 Front (c.1865) is a frame upright-and-wing form with wide eaves, pedimented window hood moldings, and a hipped roof. Another building on the same block, the J.G. Keeler House (200 Front Street, 1860) is a sidehall-plan building with a hipped roof and wide eaves. The brackets are doubled and widely spaced. This two story frame building has a pedimented entrance with transom and sidelights and flat pedimented lintels above the windows. The Hamlin Lloyd House (c. 1865, 210-12 Church Street) features two pilastered entrances and hoods over the windows, along with wide eaves and strong brackets.
The most notable Gothic Revival house in the Wyalusing Borough Historic District is the N.J. Gaylord House (c. 1865, 111 Taylor Avenue). This 2 1/2 story frame house has a steep-pitched intersecting gable roof and is T-shaped. A full-height bay with round attic window topped by a hood molding faces the street. The second floor window has a corniced hood molding with sawn decorative appliques and is flanked by shutters with fleur-de-lis cut-outs. A four-lighted bay window is at ground floor level, topped by a slate hipped roof and cast-iron balustrade. This bay window is embellished with sawn decoration. Twin porches flank the center block, each with elaborately incised decorative woodwork. Porch roofs have bracketed cornices and are carried by square columns with chamfered corners and incised paneling. Curved frieze-boards have incised decorations representing vines and leaves. The Gaylord House has been sensitively restored. At 201 Gaylord Street (c. 1860) is an intersecting gable structure with scalloped verge-boards, trussed gable ends and an ornate spindled porch, which tends towards the carpenter Gothic style. A flat roofed 20th Century addition is at the rear.
The most common house style in the district is the Queen Anne, and the most elaborate Queen Anne residences are the work of local hotelier/architect/builder J. Morgan Brown. Queen Anne residences built by Brown include several houses in the 100 block of Second Street. The frame house at 106 Second Street (1897) is a simple square form with elaborate detailing, including different siding on each floor and lattice-work window surrounds. The porch roof is supported by delicate columns; a gable-end above the porch stairs has wavy sawn verge-boards and twin wheel-motif spindled cut-outs. Characteristic of Brown's designs, the variegated wall surfaces are comprised of sawn-wood elements applied over the siding. A larger house at 100 Second Street (1902) has more complex massing with bay windows flanking a centered, recessed entrance. At the attic level, triple gable ends are embellished with sawn wheel-like motifs. This building has lost its front porch, but a small two-story side porch survives, embellished with sawn frieze boards at the first floor and a steep roof supported by swooping brackets above. Both levels have balustrades.
Another J. Morgan Brown house at 107 Gaylord Street (c.1900) is an example of the Free Classic type of the Queen Anne style. This 2 1/2 story frame house is sided entirely with clapboard, in stark contrast to the highly embellished wall surfaces of the other Brown buildings. The windows are topped with cornices and a bay window is located at the front left corner. The decorative elements are lavished on the soaring three-story porch, full-width at the ground floor, narrower above. All three levels have balustrades. The first and second floors have very elaborate sawn friezes. The two upper stories have curved lattice-work screens on each side. The ground floor entrance has sidelights and a transom, as does the second floor. The doorway onto the third-floor porch has a transom only.
The prime example of the spindled variety of the Queen Anne style is the house of planing mill owner Israel Fuller (202 Front Street, 1900). Its builder is unknown. This 2 1/2 story frame house displays the complex massing characteristic of Queen Anne houses. The hipped roof has several intersecting gables, including a tiny porch set at a 45 degree angle with elaborate spindle-work frieze and balustrade and turned columns. Like the front gable, its walls are shingled and it has carved verge-boards. A tiny second floor porch has a spindled frieze and a turned column which matches the detailing of the front porch. The front porch features square and turned columns and has an elaborate spindled frieze and balustrade. A gable with carved verge-board is set above the steps leading up from the street. Exterior wall cladding on the first and second floors is clapboard, and the house is unaltered save a covered walkway which connects it to its neighbor at 204 Front Street.
The primary example of the Stick style among the Wyalusing Borough Historic District's residential buildings is the house at 202 Second Street. This building features elaborate vertical and horizontal stickwork in its gable ends, with diagonal and sunburst patterned siding between. A small second-floor porch and a full-width front porch are supported by turned wood columns with balustrades, and the ground floor windows are topped by decorative panels. A raised horizontal accent band divides the ground floor from the second floor.
The only Shingle style house in Wyalusing is the Edgar Lewis House (102 Front Street, 1889). Designed by architect F. Brown of Scranton, this 2 1/2 story frame building has a hipped roof with intersecting gables. Fish-scale shingles are at attic level with square shingles on the second floor, and clapboard on the first floor. A Palladian window is located in the left side gable end, and the porch is supported by Tuscan columns. Several ground-floor windows have a large central pane surrounded by smaller ones. The balustrade on the porch is a replacement, but the rest of the house is original except for asphalt roofing.
Colonial Revival houses are fairly numerous in the Wyalusing Borough Historic District. The residence at 200 State Street (c.1910), with its hipped roof, sidelighted entrance and triple Tuscan columns supporting a corniced porch roof, is the most stylish example. This house is substantially original.
The vernacular houses which are in the minority in Wyalusing often use elements from the popular styles of their eras. Most date from the 1840-1910 period, with a smaller number dating to the years between 1911 and 1930. The earliest buildings are derived from the Greek Revival style, reflecting the town's location in the Northern Tier Greek Revival belt. The gable-front-and-wing house form common in this style was used in Wyalusing well into the second half of the 19th Century, often with Italianate brackets and other detailing. Houses of the years 1877-1910 adapted Queen Anne, Eastlake and Shingle style elements to vernacular forms like the gable-front-and-wing and the Foursquare. Vernacular houses from the years 1910-1930 use Colonial Revival features and forms or have forms and details deriving from the Craftsman tradition, which exists in Wyalusing only in simple vernacular adaptations.
Six Italianate commercial buildings are the oldest surviving commercial buildings in Wyalusing. Keeler's Drug Store (1860, 109 Main Street), a two story frame building with corbelled brick facade, bracketed cornice with frieze and round-topped windows, is the most elaborate example. A second-story porch and the storefront date from the late 19th Century. The former A. K. Porter store at 105 Church Street (c. 1868), a two story frame building, has a strong cornice with closely spaced brackets. Smith and Strong's Stove and Harness Store (c.1870, 107 Taylor Ave., now Wyoming Health Care) is a simpler example. A bracketed cornice and frieze and pedimented flat hoods over the second floor windows adorn a simple, flat roofed, two-story frame building with wood siding. Its two bays adjoin an even simpler former warehouse, also of two story frame construction, and a one story former bank building. The storefronts of these three buildings, which occupy the same plot, have been altered; a small pedimented entrance porch has been added.
The most noteworthy Queen Anne commercial buildings were designed by J. Morgan Brown. The 1882 addition to the Wyalusing Hotel (111 Main Street) is frame with a brick facade, exuberantly corbelled, topped by a wood cornice encrusted with sawn decoration. This building was built by Brown in partnership with his brother Daniel Brown, who died in 1887. The 1894 3 1/2 story frame renovation of the northern block of the hotel features a spectacular three story oval porch with sawn balustrades and frieze boards, corbelled brick on the ground floor facade and an array of sawn wood detailing, including decorative panels above each window, pent roofs between each story, and heavily embellished cornices. The roof has a central semicircular turret above the porches, flanked by twin gables. Later commercial Queen Anne buildings by Brown are located at 105 and 107 Main Street (1905), which replaced an earlier building that burned in 1905. The 2 1/2 story frame building at 105 Main Street, (currently a dentist's office) displays an ornate two-story porch typical of Brown's designs with sawn balustrades and a corniced gable at attic level, heavily bracketed. This building has been altered at street level. The neighboring Mulligan's Restaurant and Bakery (currently Westover's Flower Shop) at 107 Main Street is much altered, but retains its ornate cornice with false pediment.
A number of Stick, Eastlake and Queen Anne style commercial buildings built between 1880 and 1910 line the west side of Main Street. Except for the brick three-story Wells and Howard Furniture store of 1895 (104 Main Street) all are frame buildings of two stories. The Wells and Howard Store, now Dr. Ottaviani's office, with its stone flat lintels and pronounced cornice with decorative corbelling below, is Queen Anne style. Several Eastlake style buildings at the southern end of Main Street have heavy corniced and bracketed false fronts above their second floors, concealing gable or flat roofs. Outstanding in this row of stores is 116 Main Street (c.1890). Its cornice features a central gable with radiating sun motif. The cornice is supported by both large and small brackets and the second floor windows have peaked hood moldings above them which mimic the sun decorations of the cornice. Incised pilasters frame the facade; a band of fish-scale shingles divides the clapboard upper story from the original storefront. A somewhat simpler Eastlake building is located at 109 Taylor Avenue (c.1880). Its cornice is supported by multiple brackets, the facade is flanked by simple pilasters, and an original storefront with multiple-paned colored glass panels as transoms survives. The Hallock Jewelry Store (now Gannon Insurance, 100 Main Street), and the former Smith and Waldo Department Store (102 Main Street) built to fill a triangular lot in 1890, feature the variegated siding, vertical and horizontal stickwork and bracketed cornice of the more restrained Stick style. Both buildings have original storefronts with a band of fish-scale shingles above.
An anomaly in the commercial district is the iron-fronted Allis Pharmacy Building (c.1900, 115 Main Street) manufactured by the Mesker Brothers of St. Louis, Missouri. With its exuberant cornice, and paired Corinthian pilasters at second floor level, this two story brick Eastlake style building rivals the Wyalusing Hotel for ornate decoration.
The neighboring First National Bank of Wyalusing (119 Main Street) of 1900 is a Classical Revival style two-story frame building with brick facade. A modillioned projecting cornice tops the facade. Stone detailing includes flat arches with keystones above the second floor windows and quoins. A stone entablature carried by square Tuscan pilasters is above the storefront.
Four architecturally important contributing buildings in the Wyalusing Borough Historic District are neither residential nor commercial. The Gothic Revival Methodist Episcopal Church at 206 Church Street (1854), is a brick building with buttresses and lancet windows, which have projecting hoods. A one-story porch with corbelled cornice and hood above the doorway is at the right side of the facade, while a second entrance is present on the left at the ground floor of the tall spire. The belfry has been sided over and an addition has been built to the rear, but otherwise the church is substantially original. The Gothic Revival Presbyterian Church (100 Church Street, 1891) has a large lancet window with tracery and a square steeple, along with an unusual front porch. Vinyl siding has cost this building some integrity. The Baptist Church of 1894 (102 Senate Street, now the Borough Hall) is a very simple Gothic Revival building with steeply pitched gables and some Eastlake detailing on the steeple. Its ground floor lancet windows have been replaced.
The most elaborate Colonial Revival building in the district is the Wyalusing Public Library (202 Church Street, 1902). This brick single story educational building was designed by Wilkes-Barre architect Albert Kipp, and features extensive stone embellishment, including a rusticated stone foundation with incised water table, stone quoins and flat stone arches above the windows. The entrance has a fanlight and sidelights. A rear addition sensitively matches the main building's decor.
Non-contributing buildings are scattered throughout the Wyalusing Borough Historic District. Some represent replacement buildings, like the.1966 Peoples State Bank at 207-11 Church Street. Others were constructed after 1930 or represent inappropriate alterations. Of the 186 buildings in the district, 18 (10%) are non-contributing. Only two buildings in the main business area on Main Street are non-contributing, although a number of storefronts have been altered. Most alterations in the residential neighborhoods consist of changes in siding and roofing, although a number of buildings have additions which don't match their original styles. Two houses from the period of significance are listed as non-contributing due to insensitive renovations. Restoration activities are present in most areas of the district, especially in the areas of Second and First streets and in the business district. In general, non-contributing resources match their neighbors in scale and relation to the street. As a whole, the Wyalusing Borough Historic District retains the ability to represent its period and history very well.
The Wyalusing Borough Historic District is locally significant in the area of commerce for its role as the commercial hub of local agricultural and lumbering operations. The district is also locally significant for its well-preserved concentration of 19 and early 20th Century architecture, particularly its fine examples of Queen Anne and Italianate buildings. Some of the most outstanding buildings in the district were the work of amateur architect and builder J. Morgan Brown, who erected at least seven buildings in the district during the period 1880-1905. The Wyalusing Borough Historic District's period of significance begins in 1840, the date of its earliest extant building, the Dr. Scoville House at 113 Main Street. Wyalusing's location at an important crossroads made it an early commercial center. The building of the North Branch canal and a later railroad depot spawned small industries and commercial establishments. The opening of U.S. Route 6 in 1926 placed Wyalusing on a major transcontinental motor route, supporting its stores and bringing gas stations and auto repair shops to the town. The Wyalusing Borough Historic District's c.1840-1930 period of significance encompasses the years when the borough developed into a prime commercial center for Wyalusing, Wilmot and Terry townships. While the architecturally significant buildings within the district were all built by 1920, significant commercial activities continued through 1930.
The Borough's name comes from a Native American village, M'chwihilusing (Heverly, p. 188) established in 1752, 1 1/2 miles south of the mouth of Wyalusing Creek by a band of Delawares. In 1774, settlers from Connecticut occupied land in the area under the auspices of the Susquehanna Company. During the Revolutionary War, the Tories among the settlers moved north behind British lines, while raiding Indians and British drove the Patriots back downstream to Wilkes-Barre and beyond. In 1779, General Sullivan's Continental troops, moving north to attack the heartland of the Six Nations, widened the river road to a width suitable for wagons. Settlers filtered back into the area after the hostilities ended. In 1792, Justus Gaylord Jr., who had passed through the area as one of Sullivan's soldiers, purchased 900 acres, including the site on which Wyalusing stands today, and opened a store, along with a distillery and a tavern. (Heverly, p. 205) By 1795, there were at least 45 families in Wyalusing Township (Everts, p. 441-453). In 1801 John Hollenback arrived in the area with a cargo of goods and set up a general store (Heverly 1926, p. 202).
In 1803 a mail route was established from Wilkes-Barre to Tioga (Athens, Bradford County, PA) with a post office at Wyalusing. (Bradsby p. 207). Contracted to carry mail from Sunbury, PA to Painted Post, NY, in 1810, Conrad Teeter ran the first stagecoach line through Wyalusing in conjunction with his postal route (Heverly 1926, p. 86).
Access to transportation made Wyalusing a market center for the surrounding area, which was filled with small farms, especially in the lowlands along the North Branch. The river road (now Route 6) met a road in the village leading through Camptown to Montrose in Susquehanna County (now Route 706). Canoes and Durham boats plied the North Branch a few hundred feet to the south. During the first decade of the 19th Century, Wyalusing was the most important village between Wilkes-Barre and Athens (Bradsby pp. 559-576). The establishment of Meansville (Towanda) as the Bradford County seat in 1812 boosted that town to prominence; it soon eclipsed Wyalusing in size and commercial power. Wyalusing continued to grow, however, because of its strategic location on the river road and its close proximity to the North Branch of the Susquehanna River.
The Welles gristmill, built in 1820 on Wyalusing Creek just 200 feet southeast of the town, added to the commercial possibilities for local farmers and raised the prominence of the village. Nearby Camptown, which early on had a sawmill and gristmill and was a competitor to Wyalusing, lost out when the North Branch Canal was completed in 1856, connecting Wyalusing to Athens and Wilkes-Barre (Farley & Hugo, p. 5). The 1867 opening of the Pennsylvania and New York Railroad connected Wyalusing to markets in New York State; tracks were completed to Wilkes-Barre in 1869. The canal basin and the railroad station (demolished) were at the southern end of the historic district. Canal and rail connections made exploitation of local lumber resources, which included large stands of white pine, feasible for the first time. Raw logs and finished products could be cheaply carried to markets both south and north of Wyalusing, and local merchants could supply woodsmen with provisions and tools.
According to the Beers Atlas of Bradford County, by 1869 the village had some 45 buildings, including five stores, a harness and cooperage shop, the hotel, a school, one church and a planing mill. A bridge (not extant) carried the river road across Wyalusing Creek, entering the village on Bridge Street. By 1878, the village had one church, 6 stores, the hotel, the school, the planing mill and a cabinet factory (Everts, 1878, pp. 441-53). The 1885 Sanborn map indicated nine stores, including a tobacconist, two milliners, several general stores, a photographer, a jeweler, a cabinet shop, a stove and harness store, the hotel and an opera house. An Odd Fellows lodge and the Methodist Episcopal Church served religious and social needs of the village. In 1886, a bridge across the North Branch two miles south of Wyalusing was finished, adding the villages and farms in Wilmot and Terry townships on the west bank of the river to Wyalusing's commercial sphere and connecting it to New Albany. The town's population reached 420 in 1886 (Bradsby, 1891 p 207). A petition signed by 98 residents to establish a borough was presented to the state in December of 1886. The borough's boundaries were generous; less than half of the land within the borough has been developed.
The 1890 census found 438 residents in Wyalusing. The Sanborn map of 1897 indicates that Main Street, the primary business block, was lined with commercial establishments, with only a few empty lots. According to the map, the borough had two drug stores, a furniture and cabinet shop, an insurance office, several general merchandise stores, two printers, an agricultural implements store, a blacksmith, a creamery, and the Methodist and Baptist churches. Four doctors and three lawyers served the town's professional needs. Water was supplied to Wyalusing after 1893 by a privately owned company.
Having grown to 525 residents by 1900, the town had enlarged considerably on the 1903 Sanborn Map. New residential neighborhoods developed in the First and Second Street area as well as along the newly opened Marsh and Gaylord streets. Bradford County businessman Frank Welles gave Wyalusing a library in 1902, two banks had opened to serve local customers, and the business district was thriving. After August of 1904, the borough generated its own electricity for the street lamps, with no private use. A fire in 1905 consumed Brown's Opera House and a neighboring building, but both were quickly replaced. Population reached 580 in the 1910 census, and the 1911 Sanborn map indicates that no empty lots remained on either side of Main Street.
As the automobile and the truck came into widespread use, new types of businesses appeared in Wyalusing. The streets were paved for the first time around 1920, when the census counted 628 inhabitants in Wyalusing. An auto dealer was located there by 1924, soon followed by two more. With the opening of the Roosevelt Highway (Route 6) in 1926, three gas stations appeared on State Street. A new bridge (since replaced) carried Route 6 across Wyalusing Creek, entering the borough on State Street.
Agricultural activity remained strong in the area, especially in the area of milk products and beef cattle. According to Census data, Bradford County ranked fourth in the state in value of dairy products in 1910, rising to second in 1920. Butter production ranked third statewide in 1910. A larger creamery (no longer extant, c.1900) near the railroad station manufactured butter from local milk. Bradford County also ranked second in number of beef calves, and fourth in other beef cattle production in the state in 1910. A slaughterhouse on the old Taylor farm at the far northern end of the borough grew during the early years of the 20th Century into the mammoth Taylor Packing plant. Though not within the district, it provided jobs to townsmen and countrymen alike and a market for local beef cattle. The Wyalusing Township Grange had 89 members in 1929.
The population of the Borough hit its peak of 709 in 1930. Two grocers, five general stores, two hardware stores and two plumbers were doing business in the Wyalusing Borough Historic District, along with a radio shop, an electrical shop and numerous other concerns. With the 1940 census population at 706 and the 1950 population down to 612, the years of growth for Wyalusing were over.
The decades since 1930 brought gradual decline to Wyalusing's commercial interests while the town's status as a residential area remained strong. Particularly hard-hit were clothing, hardware and department stores. By the turn of the 21st Century, most surviving businesses in the town were service operations like restaurants, insurance agencies and professional offices. A number of commercial buildings on Main Street were vacant. Local industries like Arrow Manufacturing and Taylor Packing, located outside the historic district, provided jobs for Wyalusing residents, ensuring the survival of the town's residential neighborhoods.
Discussion of Commercial Significance
Wyalusing has been a nexus of local commercial activities since the first decade of the 19th Century. The early establishment of a post office and the village's location at the intersection of two important roads, with the North Branch of the Susquehanna adjoining its southern end, made the town a transportation hub for the villages and farms of Wyalusing Township. With the coming of the north Branch Canal (1856) and a depot on the Pennsylvania and New York Railroad (1867), Wyalusing became a focal point for local farmers and woodsmen, providing goods and services and a market for their products. Stores, workshops and small industries located there to serve the growing traffic. Early residents came from local farms as well as migrating along the railroad, canal and roads from outside the region.
The Wyalusing Borough Historic District's significance in commerce during the years 1840-1869 is reflected by several surviving buildings. The house and office of Doctor D.C. Scoville (113 Main Street), Wyalusing's first doctor, was used by Scoville from 1842 to 1889. John G. Keeler, whose 1860 house is at 200 Front Street established a pharmacy in Wyalusing by 1860. T.I. Lacey, whose 1869 house is at 200 Church Street, was the owner of the planing and sash mill, which was supplied with lumber by local woodsmen. A.K. Porter had a store at 105 Church Street.
Extant buildings reflecting commercial establishments from the years 1870-1899 are numerous in the district. Hamlin J. Lloyd established himself as town photographer in the 1870's and was a pioneer in the half-tone engraving process, used to print photos in newspapers and magazines. His house is at 210 Church Street, and his studio was in the rear wing of Porter's store at 105 Church Street. The brick portion of the Wyalusing Hotel (111 Main Street) was built by J. Morgan Brown in 1882. The building at 106 Main Street contained a general store in 1885 while 108 Main Street was a dry goods store and 110 Main Street sold tobacco and ladies millinery. C.D. Lewis had a stove and harness store at 107 Taylor by 1885. The Wyalusing Rocket was founded in 1887 by Calvin Stowell, whose house is at 100 Front Street. The newspaper, which is still publishing, has been located at several addresses in the district, including 106 Church Street and 101 Taylor Street (1892-1912). Case's creamery, established in 1888 to make butter from local milk, was constructed by Joseph Marsh, a businessman and three-term State Representative whose house is at 100 Marsh Street. By 1890 the west side of Main Street had several new storefronts. Henry Hallock's jewelry store was at 100 Main Street and his house was at 204 Front Street. A general merchandise store was at 102 Main Street. At 112 Main Street was a harness store and at 114 Main Street a hardware store and barbershop. The Lee and Shumway Machine Shop (Bridge Street, no street address) was established by 1890. Local businessman and State Legislator Edgar Lewis built the house at 102 Front Street. The Bank of Wyalusing (107 Taylor Avenue) was founded in 1892 by Calvin Stowell, C.J. Lewis (house at 104 Front Street) and E.A. Strong. J. Morgan Brown's expansion of his hotel in 1894 reflected increased business and pleasure travel to Wyalusing. Will Wells and Sam Howard built their furniture shop and store (104 Main Street) in 1895. The upper floor was used briefly as the town library.
Extant buildings reflecting commercial activity during the 1900 to 1930 period are numerous. Irving Allis opened a drug store in 1900 in his new iron-fronted building at 115 Main Street; he lived in the house at 221 Taylor Avenue. The Allis Pharmacy, the First National Bank of 1900 (119 Main Street) and the two buildings erected by J. Morgan Brown in 1905 to replace his burned Opera House (105 and 107 Main Street), were the last major buildings constructed on Main Street during the Wyalusing Borough Historic District's period of significance. The borough got its water from a private concern owned by Dr. John Chamberlain (house at 113 Church Street), who sold the water company to the borough in 1920. Electricity was available after 1920 from a private company run by Dr. L. H. Lantz (house at 201 Marsh Street), C.J. Lewis and C.C. Smith.
Several buildings in the Wyalusing Borough Historic District reflect the impact of auto and truck traffic on Wyalusing after 1920. Ralph Dibble sold Overland autos from his service station in the old stable behind 100 Taylor Avenue. A garage was established around 1920 at 100-112 Marsh Street. Graydon McCarty moved his Buick dealership from nearby Sugar Run to 121 Main Street in 1924, occupying the premises of the Mammoth Daylight Department Store and adding several tile wings at the rear of the complex by 1926. The 1926 opening of U.S. Route 6, a main cross-country route from Cape Cod to Chicago and beyond, brought auto service businesses to State Street, including Huffman's Filling Station (107 State Street). Autos made travel to the commercial, social and religious facilities of Wyalusing easier for people in the surrounding area.
Wyalusing served as the commercial center for southeastern Bradford County throughout its period of significance. Camptown, with its early sawmill and gristmill, was a rival in the early years of the 19 Century, until the canal and the railroad connections at Wyalusing enabled that town to eclipse its near neighbor. Camptown had five commercial buildings, approximately 20 houses and a few small industries in 1869; Wyalusing had around 45 buildings at that time, including 9 commercial buildings. After 1869, Camptown's growth stalled and its commercial establishments dwindled, leaving the village primarily residential. Wyalusing stores provided necessities and luxury items to the people of Wyalusing Township; Terry and Wilmot townships were added to the town's market area after the bridge crossed the North Branch in 1886. The small manufacturers present in Wyalusing were almost solely connected to the lumber and agriculture industries. Within Wyalusing or nearby were a creamery, a slaughterhouse, several wood-finishing operations and a large gristmill, all of which used raw materials from farms and loggers in the neighborhood. The town never approached the manufacturing and commercial status of Towanda, which was the major town and county seat of Bradford County. Laceyville, approximately seven miles east on Route 6, is very similar to Wyalusing in size of its business district and number of commercial buildings. Laceyville's commercial sphere was separated from Wyalusing's by Indian Hill, and extended into Wyoming County.
Discussion of Architectural Significance
The Wyalusing Borough Historic District's architectural significance centers on its concentration of buildings constructed between c.1840 and 1930 and representing styles including Italianate, Stick, Queen Anne, Classical Revival, Colonial Revival and post 1920 styles. Wyalusing's most unique buildings in the context of Bradford County were designed by architect/builder J. Morgan Brown, who developed a locally unusual approach to the Queen Anne style, using elaborate sawn elements to embellish wall surfaces, gable ends and porches.
Residences from the early years of the period of significance are relatively unembellished Greek Revival houses. Other towns in Bradford County, especially Athens and Towanda, possess more stylish examples of this characteristic style of Pennsylvania's Northern Tier. Italianate houses are more numerous than Greek Revival in the district, and a number of the Italianate houses are sizable and highly representative of the style. More elaborate examples exist in the county, particularly in Towanda. Similarly, the Gothic Revival houses are modest compared to the several outstanding examples in Towanda.
Victorian styles, especially Queen Anne, are the district's strong point in residential architecture. All are frame, reflecting the local importance of lumbering. Houses designed and built by J. Morgan Brown are highly creative in their approach to decoration. Brown's approach affected other Wyalusing builders, resulting in a distinct local tradition of Queen Anne building that differs from practice elsewhere in Bradford County. The only non-local residential architect known to have worked in the district is F. Brown of Scranton, designer of the Shingle style Edgar Lewis house. Colonial Revival houses are present in the district as are vernacular Craftsman houses.
Commercial buildings represent just 18% of the district's contributing buildings, yet play a major part in its architectural significance. J. Morgan Brown built three of the most outstanding commercial buildings between 1882 and 1905, setting the tone for the business district with his take on the Queen Anne style. Other architect-designed commercial buildings include the cast-iron fronted Allis Pharmacy (Mesker Brothers, St. Louis, c.1900) and the Renaissance Revival style First National Bank (architect unknown, c.1900).The frame, Eastlake and Stick influenced commercial buildings that line the west side of Main Street contribute greatly to the district's uniqueness in Bradford County. Unlike commercial buildings on other Bradford County towns like Troy or Canton, those in Wyalusing are primarily of frame construction. Main Street has suffered few demolitions and has only two non-contributing buildings. It appears very much as it did in the early years of the 20th century.
The most significant non-commercial building in the district is Wilkes-Barre architect Albert Kipp's Wyalusing Public Library of 1902, an outstanding example of the Colonial Revival style in southeastern Bradford County.
Neighboring Camptown has a number of surviving historic houses, including one large, c.1820 brick Federal style house. Most of Camptown's houses date from the middle years of the 19th century and are comparable to Wyalusing houses of that era. Camptown's commercial and industrial buildings have been lost to demolition. Laceyville's concentration of residential buildings rivals that of Wyalusing in number and quality. Laceyville is also richer in Gothic Revival and Italianate houses, but has fewer outstanding houses from the Queen Anne era. Commercial buildings in Laceyville are similar to Wyalusing's in design and numbers, often using the same corniced false front at the second floor level, which conceals a flat or gable roof. Towanda, with a huge business district by Bradford County standards, a large concentration of outstanding houses, and large commercial buildings of various vintages, is of a different magnitude of architectural significance. The Towanda Historic District was listed in the National Register in 1992.
The setting and character of the Wyalusing Borough Historic District have experienced little change since its period of significance. Wyalusing, with its overall integrity, reflects its history as a commercial center for the immediate vicinity. Since 1930, new construction and demolitions have taken place primarily outside the district, leaving the center of the town substantially intact. The varied ages and styles signify the stages of development in the years 1840-1930 within the Borough. The buildings within the district are primarily of wooden construction, emblematic of the region's lumbering heritage. The Wyalusing Borough Historic District is an excellent example of a small commercial community in Bradford County.
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Map of Wyalusing. New York: The Sanborn Map and Publishing Co., Ltd., 1885, 1847, 1903, 1911, 1926