Mount Union Historic District
The Mount Union Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. 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 Mount Union Historic District encompasses over two-thirds of Mount Union Borough, a former canal and brick-manufacturing town in Huntingdon County, part of Central Pennsylvania's Ridge and Valley region. The borough is bounded by Jack's Mountain to the west, the Juniata River to the north, Chestnut Ridge to the east, and Hill Valley to the south running between Jack's Mountain and Chestnut Ridge. The northern third of the borough is situated within an oxbow floodplain of the Juniata River while the southern two-thirds, including the historic district, stands upon higher ground to the south which rises gradually away from the river plain. The street pattern follows a standard orthogonal grid rotated slightly clockwise from the north-south axis. The historic resources within the district represent three periods of local history: (1) the Canal Era (1831-1850) when commerce from the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal catalyzed early village growth; (2) the Railroad Era (1850-1900) when the Pennsylvania Railroad and the East Broad Top Railroad maintained that growth; (3) and the Refractories Era (1900-1944) when three separate brick refractory plants made Mount Union a regional center of production. The district's building stock, which ranges from the 1840s to the present, consists largely of two-story, single-family frame homes, most of which were built during the height (1900-1920) of the Refractories Era. Stylistically, the district includes examples of Gothic Revival, double-pile Georgian types, gable-front types, gable-front 6 wing types, I-Houses, Bungalows, Foursquare types, and Queen Annes. Overall, the district's architectural character remains intact, although a number of buildings from the Canal Era, and several larger commercial landmarks and historic industrial sites from later periods have been lost or partially demolished. The integrity of the district is challenged more by widespread use of synthetic siding and scattered inappropriate alterations than by noncontributing in-fill or new edge development. Some examples of noncontributing in-fill (post 1944) and badly altered historic properties exist, but these include only 69 or 10.7 percent of the district's overall building stock of 645. Fourteen (14) buildings or 2.3 percent of the properties dating to the period of significance (1818-1944) are classified as noncontributing due to non-historic alterations which have rendered the buildings architecturally unreadable.
Mount Union's town plan was established in 1849 toward the end of its Canal Era when two men, John Dougherty and George W. Speer, laid out about eight square blocks of their own land around Pennsylvania Avenue and Washington Street. While the plan became the basis of future extensions, the town was developed largely piecemeal, either through the construction of individual buildings or through small-scale development limited to small groups of housing. Dougherty and Speer, for example, sold both individual lots or larger parcels from their first eight-block plan. Other adjoining land owners with large tracts later followed suit, adding extensions to the original grid and adopting similar sales practices. The brick companies, which did not appear on the scene until the 1900s, probably became Mount Union's largest single developers as they became impressed by the need to house their workers in the 1910s. Unfortunately, few examples of company housing remain intact, as will be discussed below.
The Dougherty and Speer Plan did not include a "diamond" or market Square, a feature common to towns in central and western Pennsylvania during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Rather, its unifying feature was Pennsylvania Avenue, laid out as a right-of-way in anticipation of the Pennsylvania Railroad's (PRR) Main Line which was due for completion the following year. The Canal Era settlement concentrated along Water Street, then called Main Street, which ran parallel to the canal. From the west, the canal entered town following the present route of Conrail's Main Line, then turned slightly southward at Washington Street. An 1873 map, made just after the East Broad Top Railroad connected to town, indicates the 1849 plan had taken hold as the model grid for development. By this time, shops, dwellings, warehouses, a tavern, a mill, and two leather tanneries stood united along or near Water Street.
The historic district contains a rather limited variety of historic commercial building types ranging from 1841 to 1936. The oldest survivor is the John Sharrar House (owned and restored by the Mount Union Historical Society), a canal-era building erected along Water Street in 1841 when the street bordered the canal. Constructed as a simple gable-front stone structure banked into a small grade below the street, the building served as a store and dwelling through much of the 19th century. It is the second oldest surviving structure in the historic district after the John Shaver House (1818), a large Federal-period stone house built by one of the area's 18th century pioneers. Sometime after 1911, however, when the building was purchased by the Mount Union Refractories Company (later North American Refractories), the front facade was radically altered for the company office. The facade now reflects a type of decorative masonry construction found throughout Pennsylvania from the 1910-30s which was known for its hard geometrical lines and rectilinear raised pointing that was often painted white to accentuate the line.
The "Main Street" or commercial center is concentrated east-west along Shirley Street between the intersection of Washington Avenue to the west and Franklin Street to the east. This area contains three bank branches, a now closed movie theater, two churches, and a number of stores and offices. A smaller number of businesses and shops are also located along Jefferson and Division streets between Market Street to the south and Pennsylvania Avenue to the north. Most of the commercial buildings within this core area were built between the 1890s and 1920s. The post office, borough building, library, fire station, elementary school, and two more churches are located one block to the south along or near Market Street. Taken together, the commercial, professional and institutional buildings represent nearly 11 percent of the district's 645 properties. Shirley Street had been largely residential prior to the Refractory Era (1900-1944) as the town's commercial expansion accelerated southward away from Pennsylvania Avenue and the railroad. Through the 1900s to 1920s, as the brick refractories opened and the population expanded, Shirley gradually redeveloped into Mount Union's new "Main Street." While the outermost blocks of the street retain much of the Railroad Era quality — e.g., the north side of the street east of Division — a number of houses between Division and Jefferson were demolished or substantially altered through the addition of large storefronts.
An example of a commercial building replacing earlier housing is the Shapiro Theater, built in 1915 soon after the opening of the federally sponsored Etna Explosives Co., a munitions plant east of town that employed hundreds of workers in round-the-clock shifts. Mount Union sported several movie halls in the 1910s, but the Shapiro is the last survivor, erected while Mount Union was a First World War boomtown. Closed since 1970, the three-story brick structure contained a 1,000-seat theater, a storefront, and upper-floor apartments. While the entrance retains its Art Moderne marquee, the building is vaguely Mission style with an enclosed tile-roofed loggia connecting twin two-story window bays above the ground floor. By contrast, an example of alteration and addition is 23-27 W. Shirley Street, a flat- roofed two-level storefront, probably married in the 1920s to a Foursquare house from the 1900s. Several other Shirley Street houses between Jefferson and Division Streets also reflect this hybridization of architectural character that property owners chose during this era as a practical method of converting their buildings into new or additional uses.
These early 20th century changes reflect the dynamic nature of Mount Union's commercial center as it gradually shifted locations, responding to forces that changed the direction of the community's development. As noted above, Mount Union experienced three periods of growth, each period prompting the commercial center to shift over time to a new location. In the 1840s, during the Canal Era, the commercial district centered around Water Street which bordered the canal; from the 1870s through 1890s, as railroad commerce dominated the local economy, the center of town became Pennsylvania Avenue where the Pennsylvania Railroad and East Broad Top Railroad tracks met; and by the early 1900s through 1944 during the Refractory Era, Shirley Street had become the commercial center.
Despite the completion of the Pennsylvania's Main Line in 1850, Water Street remained the center of town until after 1874 when the Rockhill Iron and Coal Company extended its railroad, the East Broad Top, from southern Huntingdon County to the Main Line at Mount Union. Since the East Broad Top was narrow gauge and the Main Line was standard gauge, Mount Union became an active transfer point for coal, pig iron, iron ore, and passengers.
Most of the surviving historic structures between Water Street and Pennsylvania Avenue date from 1841 to the 1880s. One good example from the Railroad Era is the T. A. Appleby Store and House at 117-119 W. Water Street. Built about 1870, this two-story, wood-frame house with its simple Italianate detailing and hipped roof was a general store and the post office in the 1880s.
Between 1900 and 1950, Mount Union contained three hotels serving railroad travelers, business people, and prospective workers. The sole survivor is the Kenmar, originally built as a dwelling in the 1880s but converted to hotel use in 1904 as the refractories industry began to grow. Closed in 1950, the Kenmar stands at 24 W. Pennsylvania Avenue (north side), next to the site of the East Broad Top passenger station, now an empty lot at the corner with Jefferson Street.
Perhaps the most outstanding commercial building from the flush years of the Refractories Era is the Penn Central National Bank constructed as the Central Banking Company and designed in a restrained Italian Renaissance Revival style. Mount Union's first bank, founded in 1873, moved to this third home 1916 when the local economy (and population) was reaching its high mark. The first location had been on Water Street when the commercial center remained near the old canal. The second location, built in 1902 as the town's first real bank building, stands at 111 North Jefferson Street, a transitional address halfway between the canal and the railroad tracks. A locally rare example of concrete-block commercial architecture is the Ingwers Building, next to the second Central Bank. Built in 1909 for two storefronts, the ground floor is now converted to apartments along with the upper floor. The builder used smooth-concrete quoins to contrast with the more commonly used rock-face block of the walls. The cornice of its shed roof was simply finished with Italianate brackets.
A slightly older example of vernacular commercial architecture is the Welch Building at the southwest corner of Jefferson Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, also next to the railroad. Built in 1890 (expanded in 1905) by Allen S. Welch (b. 1855), one of Mount Union's most prominent businessmen at the turn of the century, this three-story, yellow-brick structure with brownstone sills and lintels, contains apartments and two store fronts. Welch's choice of yellow brick, though nationally popular during this period, was unusual in Mount Union where red brick was the norm.
Besides Penn Central National Bank, one of the few commercial structures in the district with strong ornamentation is Peduzzi's at the southeast corner of Jefferson and Shirley streets. Constructed by T. C. Peduzzi (b. 1867) along with the adjoining Weller Building in 1913-14, this building contained his family's corner soda fountain and lunch counter for decades. Peduzzi was an Italian stone mason turned confectioner who moved to Mount Union about 1905 to help build the massive stone bridges and viaduct that carry the Main Line over the Juniata River and through town. The two-story, yellow-brick building, with its Romanesque detailing above the ground floor and in the corbel-tabled pediment, is an interesting late Victorian commercial design that became a local landmark because of its prominent location and popular services.
Surviving railroad resources include a former freight station built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1914 at the southeast corner of Washington Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. A two-story, gable-front frame structure with clapboard siding, the station was built as an addition to an older freight house. The existing structure bears only rudimentary ornamentation in the Craftsman-like brackets under the pent roof of the loading platform.
In 1993, the building was rehabilitated and converted into a senior citizens' community center. By the time of station's construction, the PRR's original right-of-way, which the building stood before, had become a yard siding where passengers and cargo were transferred from the narrow-gauge East Broad Top Railroad. A "high line" viaduct built over the old Pennsylvania canal bed in 1906-07 allowed the PRR's Main Line to bypass the town for express trains. This upgraded Main Line, which runs just beyond the northern boundary of the district, is presently operated by Conrail.
Also, just over the district's northeastern boundary and immediately south of the North American Refractories site, are the remains of the East Broad Top (EBT) Railroad's coal-transfer yard. Passengers, general freight and bulk cargos, like coal, pig iron and ore, were transferred here and along Pennsylvania Avenue to the Pennsylvania Railroad's (PRR) Main Line. The East Broad Top yard, which was owned and operated by the Rockhill Iron and Coal Company, includes an extant yard-switcher engine house and extensive track siding and switches. The property, while beyond the Mount Union Historic District, is part of the East Broadtop Railroad National Historic Landmark. The narrow-gauge EBT, whose northern terminus with the Main Line was established at Mount Union in 1873, ceased commercial operation in the 1950s. The freight siding and transfer yard, which it shared with the Pennsylvania's standard gauge track, extends down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue between Franklin Street to the east and Lafayette Street to the west.
The balance of the Mount Union district is predominantly residential with a small scattering of shops. Single family dwellings make up 80 percent of the district's building stock, while apartments and/or mixed-used buildings add 6 percent more to residential use. While Mount Union boasts few if any "high style" architectural landmarks, it does contain a very good collection of vernacular architecture accurately reflecting the range of styles, materials and construction methods employed by local builders between 1841 and 1944.
Overall, most buildings in the district stand on relatively narrow but deep fifth to sixth-of-an-acre lots. These generally hold comfortably-sized single-family houses with ample backyards for vegetable gardens and outbuildings (generally an auto garage backing onto a common service alley). Most houses are situated toward the front of the lot, allowing a modest front yard and side yards that generally range from eight to 20 feet. The exception is the commercial district where Shirley Street assumes a more urban plan with buildings standing in close rows, sometimes sharing a party wall.
The seven basic historic house types include: (1) the gable-front (or temple- front) generally built from the 1850s to the 1910s; (variations exist as the gable-front &wing and the gable-front &rear T wing; most are wood-frame, balloon construction); (2) the Foursquare with hipped or pyramidal roof built between the 1910s and 1930s; this type is about equally divided between wood-frame and brick construction; (3) the I-House, generally built between the 1850s and 1910s mostly in wood-frame; (4) the double-pile, side-gable Georgian type ranging from three to five bays mostly in frame construction; after the Civil War, this common vernacular type, built here between at least the 1810s and 1910s, often had a centered front gable added, giving it a Gothic Revival or more modest Carpenter Gothic look, especially if dressed with ornamental jig-saw trim around the porch, windows and roof eaves; this category also includes the more formal center-hall, double-pile plan; (5) the Bungalow, while not as common as the preceding four, is found scattered throughout the southern end of the district in wood-frame or brick, and ranges between the 1910s and 1930s; (6) the Queen Anne, generally a wood-frame variation of the gable-front &wing, but never more complex in form, built in the 1900-1910s; and (7) brick company houses, simple wood-frame structures built in the 1910s for refractory workers but largely extinct today.
Larger examples of the gable-front type include the frame houses along the 100 block of E. Vandevender and the 200 block of S. Shaver Street. The Shaver Street neighborhood is located near the former site of the Mount Union Silica Brick Co. opened in 1901 as the borough's second brick refractory (and purchased in 1915 by General Refractories Co.; the site is now cleared as the Municipal Park). Some houses in this neighborhood from 1911 to 1919, and are good examples of the district's utilitarian yet quite ample single-family gable-front homes. The frame houses are examples of more modest gable-front houses in the district, which in plan are akin to two-story Shotgun types.
Examples of the Foursquare type include a simple three-bay frame house with pyramidal roof and front window dormer located in the 100 block of E. Vandevender, and the two standing beside an altered Gothic Revival type in the 200 block of S. Division Street. While more elaborate examples of Foursquares exist, these typify many of the type once occupied by refractory managers. The house at 118 E. Market Street was built for the superintendent of the Mount Union Silica Brick Co. (later General Refractories Co.) which stood just a block to the east. The addition of vinyl siding and modification of fenestration represents the kind of architectural alteration typical in the district. Nevertheless, the structures remain united historically and aesthetically, and convey an original sense of location, setting, design, shape, architectural style, feeling and association.
More expansive examples of the I-House type exist, but the largest percentage survive as modest frame homes similar to those found along the old PRR right-of-way in the 100-200 block of W. Pennsylvania Avenue. These simple vernacular structures were likely built for railroad and leather tannery workers in the 1870s.
Like the I-House, the center-hall, double-pile (or Georgian) type tends to belong to the older housing stock built during the Railroad Era. Historically, buildings of this type also tended to house the community's more affluent residents, primarily professionals, successful merchants, upper management and prominent businessmen. Examples of the center-hall plan adapted to the Gothic Revival look with its centered front gable include 11 and 19 W. Pennsylvania Avenue overlooking the former PRR Main Line tracks. These were homes to some of Mount Union's most prominent families in the late 19th century. Note that unlike many affluent Victorian Americans, who located their homes apart from the gritty centers of industry where their money was made, these houses stood overlooking the noisy (and grimy) tracks of the Main Line. Between 1850 and the late 1940s, this right-of-way was the scene of almost constant railroad activity. Somewhat more modest examples of the center-hall double-pile type also stand along East Shirley Street.
Bungalows were built in limited numbers in Mount Union yet tended to be located in the south end of town where development occurred from the 1920s onward. A good brick and shingle example, built for C. B. Crum in the 1920s, stands along the east side of S. Jefferson Street between Garber and Gayton streets. Typical of bungalows in this region, it has been detailed in the Craftsman style, characterized by heavy roof brackets and massive flared porch posts.
The identifiable Queen Anne examples are generally late transitional types, mostly from the turn of the century, often with Colonial Revival details. In their floor plans, many are essentially gable-front &wing types whose once defining details — scalloped slate shingles and wooden gable shingles, turned porch posts and brackets, and ornamented fenestration — have sometimes been removed during remodeling, especially during siding installations. Despite these various remodeling approaches, the vast majority of the district's buildings retain their original underlying architectural form and are still easily recognized as historic structures. Two well-preserved examples of the Queen Anne are the Charles B. Crum House at 33 W. Garber St. (southeast corner with S. Jefferson), which dates from about 1903 and retains a strong Queen Anne flavor, and the larger Harbison-Walker Co. superintendent's house at 213 W. Shirley St., which represents the cross-over into the Colonial Revival style.
An important type of housing not distinguished by its style is the company house represented by the few remaining workers' homes on E. Pennsylvania Avenue and Water Street. From the early 1910s to early 1950s, the town's three brick refractory plants all maintained concentrations of company housing. At one time, four distinct areas of housing existed: a 100-house community known as Ganister Hill, built in the 1910s, stood just west and South of the Harbison-Walker plant at the base of Jack's Mountain. In the early 1950s, as part of a general industry-wide contraction, Harbison Walker demolished all of Ganister Hill. Nature has since reclaimed the hillside with the exception of one house. The second group was built for General Refractories Co. during the peak years of the First World War as new workers flooded into town. What survives are nine of 10 houses constructed in 1917 along E. Pennsylvania Avenue and Water Street. Six of these little gable-front, gambrel-roofed frame structures face the former PRR and East Broad Top rail right-of-way. Privately owned since the late 1940s, when General Refractories sold off its housing, they are the sole survivors of 41 houses the company once owned at this location and another. The other location, which is the third area, centered around the General Refractories site, now occupied by the borough's Municipal Park east of Greene Street. These houses, all now demolished, consisted of seven frame houses on Wausau Place (abandoned as a street), six frame houses on Shirley Street, and 12 single-story "shanties" east of the plant across Hill Valley Run in an area once called Shantytown.
The fourth area, called "Little Kistler," stood north of State Route 44018 between Franklin Street and the North American Refractories site. Built by the Mount Union Refractories Co. (later North American Refractories) in the 1910s after it established the town's third plant in 1911-12, this cluster of frame workers homes has been demolished. All that survives of this little workers' community is the former Garber Cafe, at 109-111 E. Pennsylvania Ave., a concrete-block commercial building, and a wood-frame house next door at 107 E. Pennsylvania Avenue, both of which were built between 1911 and 1919.
The district contains two unusual residences: a Pueblo-Spanish Revival style house built in 1925 by Charles B. Crum (b. 1860) at 29 W. Garber Street, then part of his home's sideyard at 33 W. Garber. The material is stucco over concrete block with red roof tiles. It is believed that Crum, a successful local merchant, admired similar types while vacationing at his summer home in Florida in the early 1920s. This revival style first became popular during the 1920-30s in the Southwest and spread to Florida during its early wave of resort development. The style never became popular in central Pennsylvania, although the nearby county seat of Huntingdon built a Mission style hospital in 1910. The second unusual dwelling is the Shapiro House, an Art Moderne design at 59 E. Shirley Street built in 1941-42 for Robert and Bessie Shapiro. Designed by H. C. Hodgens and A. D. Hill of Pittsburgh, it is the only house of its type in Huntingdon County.
The district's predominant building material and construction method is wood-frame balloon construction, accounting for about 75 percent of the district's building stock. The next most dominant material is brick, accounting for 15 percent. The third is a molded concrete block produced locally and used primarily for foundations, garages, outbuildings and additions. The merchant C. B. Crum is known to have manufactured these blocks in North Mount Union after 1909, yet their local manufacture may date from 1900 when he constructed a large commercial building whose walls were made entirely of the material (demolished 1941 following a destructive fire). While stone is common to most building foundations constructed before 1900, its use as a structural material after 1850 was rare, due in large measure to the vast availability of locally timbered and finished lumber.
The district contains seven churches, most of which were built between 1904 and 1926. The borough itself contains six more churches on "The Flat" north of the viaduct, built for the most part during the 1920s to 1930s by African American congregations and by an Eastern Orthodox congregation in 1915. The churches within the district are variously constructed of brick, concrete block, stone veneer, and wood frame. The oldest surviving is the Presbyterians' former wood-frame church constructed 1866-67 at the southeast corner of Shirley and Division streets. Vacated in 1908, the building was moved to the rear of 22 E. Shirley Street where it presently contains Kauffman's Yamaha motorcycle shop. Like many early churches in this region, the barn-like structure was designed like a meeting house with a large wooden bell tower and spire originally attached to the front roof. In 1907, the Presbyterian congregation hired J. L. Fulton of Uniontown to design a yellow-brick Romanesque-styled church that was built on the site of the old meeting house by Steinbach, Billmeyer Co. of Lewistown. The oldest continually used church building is the Evangelical Lutheran Church, now known as St. Luke, built in 1904-05 at the southwest corner of Jefferson and Market streets. A simple yet graceful Gothic chapel with a Norman-like tower, it was probably designed by a local builder in collaboration with the congregation. The building, which has been respectfully preserved, is distinguished by slate shingles in the fascia board framing the lancet windows in its large gable ends. Construction of the First Baptist Church began two weeks after the Lutheran Church was begun. Located at 115 S. Division Street, the church walls are made of smooth-faced concrete block unlike the rock-face block that was more locally popular. C. B. Crum, who was an officer in the congregation, may have been instrumental in its construction. Like the Lutheran church, the Baptist building is chapel-like in its simple Gothic scale, yet has lost its square bell tower that originally rose out of the roof behind the entrance porch. A block west of the Presbyterian Church stands the First United Methodist Church at 15-17 W. Shirley, built in 1925-26 in a generally English Gothic mode; this is the third church on the site. The last church built in the district before 1944 was St. Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Church at the southwest corner of Market and Washington Streets. Constructed in 1912-13, largely for the Harbison-Walker refractory workers from eastern and southern Europe who lived on Ganister Hill, the brick church is a basilica plan with Gothic detailing that includes a squared medieval tower similar to St. Luke's. Unfortunately, an architecturally awkward brick foyer was added to the handsome original entrance sometime in the last 30 years.
The only extant historic school building in the district is the Mount Union Elementary School built in 1923-24 at the northwest corner of Division and Market streets. This three-story brick structure was designed with traces of Jacobean Gothic detailing; a large north wing was added on the rear in 1951. The high school (c. 1911) once stood a block away at 11-17 E. Market Street, but was demolished about 1968 for a new fire station. The present high school, built after the Second World War, is north of the district in "The Flats" neighborhood. Mount Union's most architecturally sophisticated institutional building is the Post Office, which dates from 1936 when the town was deeply affected by two events: the Flood of 1936 and the Great Depression which had caused a downturn in the coke and steel industries and affected the local economy. Designed by Louis Simon, a prominent Philadelphia architect who had become Supervising Architect for the U. S. Treasury Department, the building stands at the southeast corner of Jefferson and Market streets sporting yellow-brick walls characteristic of refractory brick's mottled yellow tone. Typical of the academic stripped-down approach to classical design in the 1930s, it is an elegantly refined classical box. The lobby features a large mural of the Harbison-Walker plant and the Canister Hill neighborhood set before Jack's Mountain and the Juniata River. The painting was created in 1936 by Paul Rohland, an artist employed by the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture.
The district also contains the town's one large community cemetery located in the district's southeast quadrant along South Division Street. Established in 1872 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, most of the town's leading figures and their families are buried here. Like the borough, the cemetery is laid out on a grid plan with selective ornamental planting of cedar and evergreen trees. The other important site of local significance is the former Victoria Park at the northwest corner of Washington and Davis streets. Dedicated as a ball field in 1920 by William Jennings Bryant, this athletic field, also known as Catholic Hill, was one of the home fields of the Harbison-Walker baseball team. Formed in 1909, the team became one of the great amateur ball clubs in the region; in 1919, for example, it beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago White Sox.
The historic resources that survive today in Mount Union were by and large constructed before 1920 following the early boom years of the Refractories Era and the First World War. The decade of the 1920s experienced limited local growth, reflecting mechanization of the refractories industry that resulted in downsized work forces. The Great Depression affected the economy nationally, trickling down through the steel industry to orders for refractories. And while the Second World War prompted renewed prosperity that lasted briefly through the late 1940s, the brick plants did not regain the robustness that propelled them in the 1900s to 1910s. All of this was reflected in the lack of substantial growth in housing after the early 1920s. As a result, succeeding changes to the district's building stock have been confined largely to repair, alteration, and scattered in-fill, but not to expansion. Structures have been lost here and there through different neighborhoods, but for most part the district is largely intact. Among the more significant commercial structures lost over recent years was the Hotel Beers, a large three-story brick structure built c. 1860, and demolished about 1985 at the northwest corner of Jefferson and Shirley Streets. Because of its important downtown location, its urban scale and numerous storefronts, the building had been a local landmark. Edward M. Beers, a former mayor and judge elected to Congress in 1922, had operated the hotel early in the century. It has since been replaced by a noncontributing convenience store and gas station. Perhaps the district's least contributing area is the intersection of Jefferson and Water Streets: on the northwest corner stands a new convenience store and gas station, across Jefferson Street on the northeast corner is a noncontributing car wash, at the southwest corner is an empty lot, and on the southeast corner remain the cellar holes of two demolished commercial buildings. Shirley Street's commercial district has fared better; notwithstanding the loss of the Beers Hotel, only the Central Penn National Bank at 16-18 E. Shirley and the Initas National Bank at 16 W. Shirley, two suburban-style buildings with driven-in windows, have been inserted into its otherwise urban streetscape. A few other buildings in the district were lost decades ago but never replaced: directly across Jefferson Street from the Welch Building at Pennsylvania Avenue stood the Crum Building, a local landmark between 1900 and 1941 when destroyed by fire. Constructed entirely of locally-made concrete block, it was the town's largest commercial building, containing several ground-floor shops and offices, storage and meeting space above.
Despite these losses, noncontributing properties account for only 10.7 percent of the district's overall building stock. These properties were either non-historic (built after 1944) or historic structures so radically altered on the exterior that they had lost their stylistic integrity and had become architecturally unrecognizable. Properties were rated as contributing if they retained a good overall visual sense of their historic character. That is, they maintained their original massing and character (including walls, roof line, window and door fenestration, and site location), despite the addition of modern materials like siding, storm window frames, asphalt shingles, metal replacement porch posts, or the removal of original ornamentation (decorative window moldings and trim, barge board, finials, decorative wall and roof shingles, turned wooden porch posts, etc). As a general rule, if changes made to the exterior of a property were judged to be reversible, the building was rated as contributing. Likewise, buildings that had been expanded through addition were also rated as contributing if the newer construction met two criteria: the addition itself was 50 years or older and represented a significant later phase of the building's history (such as the houses given storefronts along Shirley Street in the 1910-20s); or the addition, such as a kitchen wing or garage, was modest enough to maintain the original historic character of the property overall.
The Mount Union Historic District is significant in the areas of industry and transportation for its role as a regionally important railroad transfer point for iron and coal shipments. The district is also significant in the area of community development for the important ways in which its patterns of growth responded to changes over time in transportation and industry. Finally, the district is significant in the area of commerce and the area of architecture for its role as a local commercial center and for its representative collection of architecture common to central Pennsylvania communities from the 1840s to 1940s.
The history of the district and its extant historic resources can be broadly divided into three periods: (1) the Canal Era (1831-1850); (2) the Railroad Era (1850-1900); (3) and the Refractories Era (1900-1944). The period of significance begins in 1841, the date of the Sharrar House, the District's oldest resource. Mount Union's prominence through these eras resulted in large measure from its well-placed location along the Juniata River. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Juniata served as Pennsylvania's natural interior corridor for trade and migration to the Allegheny Ridge, the eastern continental divide before the Ohio Valley and the western frontier. The first land claims in the Mount Union area date to the 1760s, although actual settlement probably dated to the 1790s when a ferry was known to operate on the river west of the present Rt. 522 bridge (north of the district). The settlement, then known as Clintonville, consisted of several buildings near the river, none of which survive.
An early 19th century turnpike, which generally followed the present route of Rt. 522 through town, offered an improved road between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, and a source of commerce for Clintonville which traded with the seasonal flatboat traffic along the river. Local commerce remained modest, however, until 1831 when the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal opened. In order to bypass an oxbow turn in the river to the north, the canal had been routed through what would become the middle of the village by the 1840s. The canal was a state public works project initiated by Philadelphia business interests to compete against New York's Erie Canal. Between Duncan's Island (above Harrisburg) and Hollidaysburg, where the Portage Railroad took the canal boats over the Allegheny Mountains, the canal followed the Juniata River valley. In Mount Union, the accessibility of regular canal service (excluding winter) with the intersection of the regional turnpike made the town a natural crossroads for trade. A wharf was soon built along the canal to handle pig iron shipments from Matilda Furnace just across the river and flour from local mills. The one known surviving building from this period is the John Sharrar House built in 1841 along Water Street, then the main street bordering the canal. The building served as both store and dwelling, its lower storeroom door (north side) opening onto the canal wharf. In 1848, Sharrar built the American Hotel nearby, the village's first tavern and inn (demolished).
Between the canal's opening in 1831 and the completion of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Main Line in 1850, village development confined itself principally to Water Street. Larger-scale development following a town plan occurred years after the canal opened, prompted not by the canal but by the coming of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). Just after 1847, as the PRR' s Main Line was being built from Huntingdon, much of the land surrounding the canal was purchased by John Dougherty and George W. Speer and offered for sale in 1849 following a town plan.
Dougherty and Speer's 1849 plan was designed around the railroad right-of-way where a wide avenue named Pennsylvania had been dedicated for the PRR line. While the plan became the basis of future extensions, actual development occurred rather piecemeal either through individual initiative or small-scale developments limited to small numbers of housing. Both Dougherty and Speer sold their lots individually or in larger parcels. Other land owners with large adjoining tracts, like the heirs of John Shaver, followed suit adding extensions to the original grid based upon the pattern of modest residential lots.
The construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad marked the beginning of the canal's commercial decline. The railroad, which became the principal east-west rail corridor in Pennsylvania, proved far more reliable and efficient to operate than the seasonal (and maintenance intensive) canal system which failed to turn a profit for the Commonwealth. While Mount Union's canal port declined, the railroad one block away created prosperity. Huntingdon, the county seat to the west and its nearest large neighbor, also made the transition from canal port to railroad town. But Huntingdon grew more quickly than Mount Union between 1850 and the 1870s because of a second rail connection established there in 1856. A local iron and coal line, the Huntingdon &Broad Top Mountain Railroad, built a junction with the PRR at Huntingdon. Mount Union overcame that commercial disadvantage in 1873 when the East Broad Top Railroad (EBT), which served the Broad Top coal fields of southern Huntingdon County, opened a rail transfer operation. Like Huntingdon, Mount Union now functioned as a regional junction, transferring coal and locally made iron from the narrow-gauge EBT to the standard-gauge PRR.
With the EBT connection, the population of Mount Union doubled between 1870 and 1900, creating the town's first significant construction boom. By the late 1870s, the borough contained two large leather tanneries (demolished), a brickyard (demolished), and about 20 tradesmen's shops. With the railroad along Pennsylvania Avenue, new development began to move south away from the canal. Despite the noise and grime from wood-fired (and later coal) locomotives, a number of leading citizens built their homes overlooking the tracks on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue between Jefferson and Franklin Streets. Several good examples from this period include 11 to 21 W. Pennsylvania Avenue, all substantial houses built in the late 19th century. The right-of-way remained the route of the Main Line until 1906 when the PRR built a viaduct without grade crossings over the now abandoned canal bed. The old route, which survives today with several of the PRR's standard gauge tracks intact between Franklin and Lafayette Streets, became a freight siding and transfer yard. The one surviving railroad building here is the PRR freight station built in 1914 at the southeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Washington Street.
During this Railroad Era, Mount Union was gradually transformed from an early 19th century village pattern in which most shops, offices and homes were clustered together in residential-looking structures to a late 19th century urban pattern with distinct areas for industry, commerce and residence. The Sharrar House (1841), for example, could have been mistaken for a modest home rather than a store and warehouse, yet the Welch Building (1890) clearly bears the unmistakable appearance of a more modern commercial building. The same distinctions in type and function began to apply to land use: by the turn of the century Shirley Street, which was removed slightly from the noise and grime of the railroad, was becoming the new commercial center. Newer, almost exclusively residential neighborhoods were being built south of Market Street as well, and distinct industrial sectors had already emerged along the rail lines and at either end of town where the brick refractories plants would locate in the 1900-10s.
While Mount Union's economy became associated with the region's iron and steel industry in the 19th century, it would not become largely dependent on it until the turn of the century when Mount Union's strategic position and advances in refractories production prompted a state-of-the-art brick plant to be built here in 1899. Within a decade, the town was transformed again into a major refractories manufacturing center. Three primary factors allowed this: the borough sat in the shadow of Jack's Mountain, a mountainous ridge full of ganister; by 1899 innovations in silica brick manufacturing created vertically integrated plants located next to their material sources; and two important rail lines intersected here — the Main Line connecting the major coke and steel producing centers of the nation, and the EBT supplying high-grade coal from the Broad Top field to fire the brick kilns.
The first manufacturer, W. H. Haws Fire Brick Company, built the first refractory plant in America designed exclusively to make silica brick (or refractories). Silica brick was used to line coke ovens, steel furnaces, steamship and locomotive boilers, and fireboxes of all sorts.
After a year, the Harbison-Walker Company of Pittsburgh bought out H. W. Haws. At the time, Harbison-Walker was the largest refractory maker in the world, controlling 33 plants. Founded in 1865 as the Star Fire Brick Company, it had become the primary supplier of Andrew Carnegie's iron mills through the 1870s and 1880s. In 1901, several partners in the H. W. Haws Company who had disputed the sale to Harbison-Walker founded the rival Mount Union Silica Brick Company at the east end of the borough (present site of the Municipal Park). In response, Harbison-Walker built a second free-standing plant in 1903-04 next to its No. 1 Works and doubled its overall capacity. A third firm, Mount Union Refractories, built a facility in 1911-12 along the Juniata River at the eastern edge of town. Organized by Clinton V. Hackman and R. P. M. Davis, two former managers for Harbison-Walker, the company built a second plant in Clearfield County in 1922 and changed its name to U. S. Refractories Company; in 1930 it merged again and changed to North American Refractories.
To provide some context for the refractories' local impact, Mount Union's population in 1906 stood at 1,086. By 1910, when only two refractories operated, the population had more than tripled to 3,338. By 1920, following the tremendous growth caused by the opening of Mount Union Refractories in 1911-12 and a government-sponsored munitions plant in 1915, the population had risen to over 6,000. Work was available everywhere, often forcing companies to import labor to the area. The decade of the 1910s, for example, witnessed the simultaneous operation of three brick plants, two railroads, a large leather tannery, two wood planing mills, a shirt factory, a lime- slaking plant, a rail-tie creosoting plant, and a gunpowder plant (1915-18). In 1910, prior to the opening of the third brick plant the following year, over 1,000 men were employed in a town with a population of only 3,338. The East Broad Top Railroad employed 850 men alone throughout its system, many of whom lived in Mount Union, while Harbison-Walker's twin plants employed 600.
Unlike the post Civil War decades when the EBT, two leather tanneries and other lesser industries were locally controlled, the brick plants and the Pennsylvania Railroad were directed by companies headquartered in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. While Mount Union supplied labor and raw materials, enjoying the benefits of its industry, it no longer controlled its own fate. Not exactly a classic company town, it nevertheless found itself dependent economically and politically. The boom years between 1900 and 1920 were also relatively short-lived. Following the First World War, brick refractory employment fell despite an expanding economy in the 1920s. The Depression of the 1930s hit particularly hard. Not only did demand for refractories decrease, but modernization substantially reduced the need for skilled labor. Workers typically would be hired temporarily as dictated by the home office and let go when necessary. Among other side effects, this created a transient worker population with little long term security.
Refractories employment rebounded to over 1,000 during the Second World War and post-war growth carried local industry through the 1940s. By 1959, however, General Refractories, located at the site of the Municipal Park, shut down permanently. Harbison-Walker and North American have gone out of business only recently, although their employee rosters had already shrunken dramatically over the last 30 years.
Prior to the First World War, Mount Union's population remained relatively homogeneous. The borough was also well known as a "dry" town. During the First World War, however, with the influx of thousands of new workers drawn (and recruited) to the nearby Etna Explosives Company, the ethnic and racial face of the town changed. The resulting culture clash with the "foreign" infusion of eastern and southern Europeans and African-Americans was specially keen to the town's old-stock Protestant population. They remembered the town before the brick plants, and, though they had enjoyed the accompanying prosperity, watched certain social transformations they were powerless to control. Within a decade, for example, certain areas in the town had earned a regional reputation for "racketeering," as James T. McElroy, a local writer characterized things in 1930. Many of the new workers, often single men, were both hard working and hard drinking. McElroy wrote, "beer was shipped in by the carload lot, and more beer was consumed than the combined saloons of Huntingdon and Orbisonia dispensed." He added, however, that "the foreign element was not alone in the...manufacture of intoxicants."
Within this larger context, the period between 1900 and 1920 witnessed Mount Union's greatest surge of residential and commercial development. The town became a commercial and social magnet drawing thousands of people from surrounding communities for shopping, business, and entertainment. Two regional state highways (Rt. 22 and Rt. 522) intersected here, and the Pennsylvania and East Broad Top Railroad offered daily passenger and freight service to regional points east, west and south. Despite those two decades of affluence and tremendous growth, most of the commercial buildings from this period (and since) are extraordinarily utilitarian. Even some of the larger landmarks that have been lost, such as the Beers Hotel formerly at Shirley and Jefferson Streets (NW corner), and the Crum Building once across the street at Jefferson and Pennsylvania (SE corner), were very functional looking. Beyond the commercial district, south of Shirley and Market Streets where the town expanded rapidly during the Refractories Era, the borough retains the small-town scale established by its original 1849 town plan. In its regularity of small lots laid out on a semi-urban scale, the plan is typical of many 19th century Pennsylvania towns. Upon these lots, dozens of wood-frame or brick "spec" homes were constructed by local builders between 1900 and 1920. During this era, Mount Union's residential neighborhoods developed at three levels: (1) Newer workers, many recent European immigrants, often lived in company housing enclaves like Ganister Hill. Demand for housing prompted the brick refractories to create their own small settlements where they could oversee their workers. These were substantially meaner structures than had been constructed by previous private efforts or by small-scale developers. Many were intended to house "foreign" workers, the first substantial non-native population that Mount Union had ever experienced. The three brick companies combined probably became Mount Union's largest single developer of housing, though little evidence of their commissions survive in the district today. Harbison Walker, for example, built 100 worker homes on Ganister Hill west of its plant (demolished in the early 1950s). Here, immigrant families from Russia, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia and the Austro-Hungarian region would share their homes with five to ten single boarders of the same nationality. General Refractories also built clusters of worker housing around its plant east of Greene Street where an elderly housing project stands today. Altogether it owned over 40 houses.
The only survivors of this group built in 1917 stand along East Pennsylvania Avenue near Franklin Street. Although smaller in scale, they resemble worker housing in Claysburg and Sproul also built by General Refractories between 1911 and 1917. Native born workers, managers, and merchants, lived throughout the rest of the town except on Ganister Hill, "The Flat," the area north of the PRR viaduct, and other company-owned enclaves like "Little Kistler" northeast of Franklin Street (demolished). These workers might live side-by-side with plant managers and white-collar professionals in the neighborhoods. De facto racial and ethnic segregation existed in Mount Union as in most of America. After 1906, most African-American workers and their families lived in "The Flat," north of the Main Line viaduct. Known by that name because of its location in the floodplain of the Juniata River, this former farmland was opened for development in 1906 when the PRR viaduct was completed. Badly flooded in 1936, and again in 1972, several industries and countless homes were ruined. The area has been so damaged by flooding that most buildings in the Flat are less than 50 years old and therefore were drawn out of the district.
While Mount Union's early builders had enjoyed access to sawn lumber from a sawmill on Hill Valley Run in the early 1800s, the town boasted four planing mills during the boom times of 1900 to 1920. The last mill, the Mount Union Planing Company established in 1912, was typical in offering a full line of building materials, pre-built components, construction estimates and plans. The importance of these local planing mills in shaping the architectural character of Mount Union and other communities in this region cannot be overstated. Their operations often provided the skilled labor, building materials, and prefabricated components, like doors and windows, for thousands of structures throughout the region. Their builders reproduced or adapted plans taken from myriad sources such as builders catalogs, pattern books, magazines, mail-order services, trade literature, or local building traditions. Many of these sources were conservative in nature, promoting "old fashioned" design that appealed to small-town middle America. For this reason, many of the houses in Mount Union appear at first blush to be older than their years.
Two local figures have been identified as builders during Mount Union's Refractories Era: Allen S. Welch (b. 1855) is credited with building at least 50 homes, primarily those he developed in 1905 within the "suburb" of Allenport, just east of the district on Rt. 522. In 1890, Welch had been a successful farming equipment dealer who purchased the town's sole lumber yard, adding a hardware store in 1891, and soon became the town's principal supplier of building materials. In 1909, with the addition of a planing mill, he added a line of finished products like doors, windows and other architectural components. His younger brother, Elmer D. Welch (b. 1868), was probably the area's leading contractor, credited with building over 200 houses, stores, and buildings between 1904 and 1910. Many presumably stand within the district.
Other towns in the region containing known planing mills with contracting services included Everett (Bedford County), Roaring Spring and Claysburg (both in Blair County). Claysburg is especially interesting since the planing mill that built much of its housing was established following the opening of a Standard Refractories plant in 1913. By 1922, it and a competing brick plant in nearby Sproul were both owned by the General Refractories Company, owner of the Mount Union plant. Unlike homes in Mount Union and Claysburg, Sproul contained mostly company-built houses supplied by an Everett contractor who ran a planing mill. The typical Sproul company home was a simple wood-frame I-House type with a rear kitchen wing, not unlike many of the simpler I-Houses found in Mount Union. Just as wood- frame, balloon construction was the era's most common building approach, concrete block appears to have been its foundation material of choice in Mount Union. The district possesses an abundance of this locally produced block found in dozens of foundations, garages, outhouses, and even entire buildings. As the local historian Charles Welch noted in 1910, "The concrete business is one that is coming into great prominence today."
Though concrete block was not locally unique, it did belong to a popular national trend between 1900 and 1930 when the material was promoted nationwide by builders and industry associations as a low-maintenance, fire-proof material. The widespread use of the block in the district is locally significant because several local businesses, including the businessmen C. B. Crum, manufactured rock-faced and dimple-faced varieties; also because 37 percent of all buildings in the district rest upon such foundations. Concrete was easily manufactured and relatively inexpensive due to the abundance of silica, a common ingredient in concrete, the crushed by-product of ganister. Indeed, according to the district's building inventory, about 60 percent of all extant buildings constructed between 1904 and 1919 rest on concrete block foundations.
The district also contains several noteworthy examples of garages built with refractory brick, significant because of regional rarity as a material adapted to building. In a 1993 study of the refractory towns in nine counties of southwestern Pennsylvania (commissioned by the America's Industrial Heritage Project), Historic American Buildings Survey historian Kim Wallace found only one house built of refractory brick in eight communities with refractory plants. As she concluded, "refractory bricks were considered so specialized that they were not wasted as mere building bricks." Nevertheless, at least three Mount Union residents adapted discarded brick to build auto garages. Three good examples can be found on the back yards of 123 W. Maxwell, 16 E. Milford, and 24 W. Milford Streets.
During the 1910s, with the combined operation of three plants, an industry promotional brochure characterized Mount Union as "the silica brick capital of the world." Whether that claim was true is uncertain. The actual center of Pennsylvania's refractories industry was Clearfield, Clinton and Centre counties. Beyond these more central Pennsylvania locations, an assortment of southwestern Pennsylvania communities within the immediate orbit of Pittsburgh and Johnstown also contained refractory manufacturers in the 1910- 1920s. Closest to Mount Union, for example, were operations in Alexandria (Huntingdon County), Sproul and Claysburg (Blair). An incomplete regional list would also have to include plants in Robinson (Indiana), Bolivar, Salina and Latrobe (Westmoreland), Blandburg and Johnstown (Cambria), Hyndman (Bedford), Mt. Braddock, Connellsville, Layton and Childs (Fayette), Williams (Somerset) and Clymer (Indiana).
Of these, only Alexandria situated to the west of Huntingdon on the Juniata River, and Bolivar and Robinson, twin towns on the Conemaugh River, had once been canal ports like Mount Union. Alexandria, which began its development much like Mount Union as a small river trading settlement grew significantly between 1830 and 1850 after the canal opened. Yet when the Pennsylvania Railroad bypassed the town for a northern route in the 1850s, development slowed. Towns like Petersburg to the northeast, which the canal had bypassed but the new railroad now serviced, began to grow instead. Although the canal remained opened until 1875, Alexandria's growth stagnated compared to new railroad towns like Petersburg and Mount Union. Alexandria remained a small market town along the Huntingdon, Cambria and Indiana Turnpike (later Rt. 22) until 1905 when a refractories plant opened in Porter Township just west of the village. While most worker housing for the plant was built near or around Alexandria, the town never experienced the concentration of associated industries, the degree of rapid growth or the multi-cultural influx of workers that Mount Union did during the same period.
Perhaps the town most closely comparable to Mount Union in its pattern of development is Huntingdon, 11 miles to the west. Although Huntingdon surpassed Mount Union by most quantifiable measures — it was older, larger, wealthier, and achieved greater industrial and commercial diversification — its growth patterns were also influenced by changes in transportation and industry. Through the 19th century, the two towns grew along similar lines: both started as small settlements along the river, first served by the river and turnpike, then by the canal, later by the railroad, and still later by the highway. Both grew outward from the river sharing a similar grid pattern, lot size, and many of the same construction techniques and styles. Huntingdon remained the capital town, however, because of its position as county seat and its home to Juniata College. As a result, it contained a larger proportion of professionals and local wealth that remained within the borough. Much of Mount Union's capital profits returned to the larger home-office cities of the refractory companies. Huntingdon also boasted a larger retail concentration than Mount. Union. However, Mt. Union remained the largest market town between Huntingdon and Lewistown in the Juniata Valley region.
Both towns established commercial, industrial and residential districts whose locations were determined by their proximity to transportation routes. Access to reliable rail transportation, for example, prompted the development of certain 19th century industries in either town which were not strictly dependent upon local sources of material. In Mount Union, the railroad allowed the importation of leather hides to the local tanneries in Huntingdon, paper manufactured elsewhere was made into paper tablets and shipped out again.
These similarities began ending by the turn of the century when refractory manufacturers from Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh realized the enormity of the ganister deposits around Mount Union. The direct connection to the Broad Top's high-grade coal fields also added a special strategic attractiveness to Mount Union. Huntingdon, of course, had access to coal but lacked the immediate supply of ganister at its doorstep. Mount Union grew exponentially in the first two decades of the 20th century, while Huntingdon grew more slowly percentage wise. Without an immediate need for large infusions of labor, Huntingdon also never experienced the influx of foreign-born and multi-racial workers that Mount Union did over the same period. Nor did it experience the dramatic and uncertain cycles of hiring and firing that Mount Union did soon after the First World War.
Concerning the other refractory locations, few if any sweeping generalizations can be made about these operations and their communities. Some were largely family-owned and operated companies, while many others had been bought out and merged successive times as part of the American business trend at the time for industry-wide consolidation. Some financed the MPS wholesale construction of company housing, as Mount Union Refractories (now North American Refractories) did in Kistler (Mifflin County ). Others only dabbled in housing development, allowing the initiative of local builders to provide the necessary stock. Most company housing, including that in Mount Union, was structurally functional but architecturally plain. The exception to this rule was Kistler, laid out in 1916-17 by John Nolen, a noted town planner from Cambridge, Massachusetts, hired by Clinton V. Hackman, the president of Mount Union Refractories, to create a "model" town for his workers. Hackman apparently subscribed to the late Progressive Era belief that superior housing and other designed amenities provided in a planned community improved the moral character of its inhabitants.
Architecturally, Mount Union's buildings are representative of the buildings in many central Pennsylvania towns established in the early to mid-century. The various styles described above reflect the transformation that occurred nationally during the 19th century from the regional vernacular building traditions known early in the century to the adoption of national styles and construction methods after the Civil War. In this sense, Mount Union was not unique in its architecture. However, within a local context, it does serve to illustrate how late certain national styles, such as the Gothic Revival and Queen Anne, remained in vogue in this region. And, in regional context, it contains numerous examples of early concrete block construction, found mainly in building foundations. As discussed above, this high number can be credited to the existence of two or more concrete manufacturing operations within the borough during the early 20th century. While this technology enjoyed a brief national popularity, it was soon replaced both in this region, and nationally, by cinder block in the 1940s.
In summary, the Mount Union Historic District in its location, pattern of development, and collection of historic resources well represents the themes of Community Development, Industry, Commerce, Transportation, and Architecture for a central Pennsylvania town from 1841 to 1944.
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