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Holicong



The Holicong Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Portions of the text below were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. Adaptation copyright © 2004.

The Holicong Village was once the location of a historic period campsite of the Lenni-Lenape. 1/2 was an ideal place for settlement with its stream and abundant game. Legend has it that the spring and underground river was an important local landmark. The natural spring which is connected to this river is known today as the Konkey Hole and the Indian campsite was near this venerated spot.

The Old York Road runs through the village and is one of the oldest roads in Bucks County. This section was built c.1720 and was largely responsible for Holicong's early growth. Intersecting Old York Road at the village is Holicong Road, a fairly narrow secondary road dotted with farm complexes and open fields. This was the first, and is the only road built Over Buckingham Mountain. The past which goes over the mountain was built literally in steps so the carriages and wagons could go up a level, then let the horses rest before proceeding further.

The Holicong Village Historic District is made up of 18 historic structures (including a well preserved limekiln) on 9 properties. There are only two intrusions, a home and garage, built c. 1965. The breakdown of ages of the main sections of these 18 historic structures is as follows: seven were built in the 18th century, ten in the 19th century, and one in the 20th century. They are mostly 21/2 story, fieldstone, partially or completely stuccoed, with slate roofs. Several structures have additions; some are 18th and 19th century additions, most are early 20th century additions.

One unique feature of the village is the fact that almost every one of the 9 historic properties was originally used for some type of service. As the area grew, more services were needed, so more structures were built.

The village of Holicong or "Hollekonk" as it was called in Indian times takes its name from the natural spring around which the Lenni-Lenape camped. In the midst of a limestone belt, which later played an important role in the area's development, the Konkey Hole has amazed generations since Indian times. This curiosity, on Holicong Road between Valley Farm and Barley Sheaf Farm, 1 mile east of Old York Road, is a funnel-shaped depression, which is about 120' across at the top, and from 30'-50' down to the water. The spring rises and falls within the funnel. At times it has been 20' across at the water level, but it will fall in time of drought until it appears to be no more than 6'. In Indian times, there were many fantastic legends relating to the Konkey Hole. Old York Road is one of the oldest in the county, its original section was built in 1693.

Because Old York Road allowed many travelers to pass through Holicong, many people became aware of the opportunities the village held. Possibly the largest drawing card was the lime-burning industry, which was responsible for employing many of the area's men. Limestone was quarried and burnt in this rural service center as early as 1703, the lime being used principally as a fertilizer until commercial manures came onto the market. It then became too expensive to produce the lime for this purpose. The lime was also used for mortar.

Holicong Village forms a unique potpourri of typical examples of 18th, 19th, and 20th century residences, barns and outbuildings, private and public schools, frame and stone construction, village and farm architecture, and industrial and commercial buildings. Strong English Quaker influence is seen in the majority of Holicong's buildings. Lacking obvious embellishments, the sturdy, conservative structures exhibit many of the Quaker building traits including the rectangular floor pan, 2 1/2 story proportions, symmetrical fenestration, and use of local materials, especially the limestone.

The number of 18th century buildings is perhaps Holicong's strongest feature. A high percentage of Bucks County's crossroad rural villages were built in the early to mid-19th century. Only a handful of villages and towns existed in the 18th century to meet the need of settlers and travelers. Holicong appears to be one of the earliest in Buckingham Township if not the Central Bucks area. Holicong is therefore important today us all example of a rural village established in the 18th century. The somewhat random placement of the structures within the general village boundaries tells today's viewer that the buildings were constructed as needed, not meant to conform to an overall plan. The result is an integration of residential, agricultural, industrial, commercial, and educational structures and activities.

During the 20th century, not much happened to alter the appearance of the village. The store property changed from a general store to a furniture store and the post office reverted to fourth class status but little new construction occurred. The village has kept its nineteenth century countenance.

Notes

  1. Edward Wesner. Daybook. 1852-1860. Bucks County Historical Society.
  2. George MacReynolds, Place Names in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (Doylestown PA: Bucks County Historical Society, 1955), 238.
  3. William W. H. Davis, History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania vol. III (Pipersville, PA: A.E. Lear, 1975 rpt.), 519.
  4. Bucks County Biographies. (Buffalo, NY: 1899).
  5. Place Names, p 238.
  6. Directory for Bucks County. (Doylestown: James D. Scott, 1894), 400.
  7. Kathryn Auerbach and William Sisson, National Register Nomination for Fordhook Farm, Doylestown Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania (1987), section 8, 1.

School District: Central Bucks

See Map

Street Names: Holicong Road, York Road

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