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Waverly Historic District


The Waverly Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Text, below, was adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2007, The Gombach Group.

Photo: Corner of Academy Street and Abington Road (Route 407); Pennsylvania Bureau of Historic Preservation; www.arch.state.pa.us, accessed October, 2007; date and photographer unknown.

The Waverly Historic District is an early exclusively residential historic district of seventy-seven acres, located in the unincorporated village of Waverly, in Abington Township, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania along Pennsylvania's northern tier, approximately ten miles north of the city of Scranton. The district is dominated by homes of two stories in height, generally gable-roofed and of wood construction, dating from the 1820s through the 1930s, with which are interspersed several historic churches. Near the center of the district, the Community House, a 1920s brick Dutch Colonial Revival-style institutional building, occupies a full block. Among the earliest properties in the district is an 1830 Federal-style school; many of the buildings reflect Greek Revival-style domestic design, and churches drew upon the Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival styles for their inspiration. The integrity of the Waverly Historic District is little impaired and the area clearly retains the physical characteristics which it possessed at the end of the period of significance. The Waverly Historic District contains a total of 131 properties, all of which are buildings; a free-standing commemorative marker installed by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is an uncounted small-scale element. One hundred sixteen properties (89%) contribute to the character of the district and fifteen (11%) are non-contributing. Most non-contributing buildings are those erected following the 1828 – c. 1940 period of significance of the district; seven of these (47%) are garages, typically built at the rear of lots. The extent of alteration of a small number of properties has resulted in a loss of historic architectural integrity and their resultant classification as non-contributing resources. Non-contributing properties are scattered widely throughout the district and fail to detract from the district's generally unimpaired integrity. Approximately eighty percent of the properties in the Waverly Historic District pre-date 1900, approximately fifteen percent were constructed between 1900 and 1940, and the remaining post-date 1940. The district clearly retains integrity and reflects closely the physical appearance and overall village character which it possessed throughout the last decades of the period of significance.

The architecture of the Waverly Historic District consists principally of modestly-scaled residences of two stories in height located along Abington, Carbondale, and Waverly Roads, Clinton, Academy, Beech, Cole, and Church Streets and a small section of Dearborn Street. Foundry Alley and Madison Lane are tertiary roadways containing only dependencies. The majority of the district's architecture is of wood construction. The gabled roof is the most prevalent roof form and the temple-form side-passage house with a gable-end-oriented roof is among the district's dominate house types. The Dutch Colonial Revival-style properties in the district have the distinctive gambrel roof which is among that style's defining features. Most roofs are penetrated by brick chimneys; in some cases, chimneys have been removed in the course of re-roofing or retrofitting of heating systems. Many of the homes retain front porches of varying scales and forms, along with associated domestic outbuildings, including automobile garages and barns. The largest buildings in the district are the "Goodstay," the stucco-finished Chateauesque-style estate home of industrialist Gaspard D'Andelot Belin at 109 Academy Street (remodeled to its present appearance in the 1920s) and the brick 1919 Waverly Community House at 1115 Abington Road, which is executed in the Dutch Colonial Revival style.

The architectural styles represented in the Waverly Historic District include the Federal, Greek Revival (the district's most prevalent style), the Colonial Revival (including the Dutch Colonial Revival), Bungalow, American Foursquare, and in the case of Goodstay, Chateauesque. The Romanesque Revival style was employed for one of the district's churches and the Gothic Revival Style was used for the other two. Some properties appear as faithfully-designed representatives of the various styles, while others either represent vernacular derivations of particular design modes or incorporate details of particular styles on properties which are otherwise not related to any particular style (i.e., an Eastlake-style porch or an Italianate-style frontispiece applied to an otherwise vernacular residence).

Significance

The area which would become Waverly was originally part of the lands in northern Pennsylvania claimed by the State of Connecticut. Despite attempts to create a new state between New York and Pennsylvania with its capitol at Wilkes-Barre, the Pennsylvania county of lime was erected from portions of Northampton County in 1786. Meandering across part of the new county was a Native American trail leading from the Susquehanna River to the Delaware River. This trail had several branches, one of which, known as the Warrior's Path, led through the wilderness that would become Waverly. In 1790, surveyors from Rhode Island were hired to survey some of the lands claimed by Connecticut in this part of northeastern Pennsylvania. This survey became known as the Ebbington survey, after the Warwick, Rhode Island land agent, Col. Ebbington, under whom the claims had been surveyed. The first settlers named a new township after Ebbington but when they discovered that the deeds issued by Ebbington were worthless, they changed the name of the township to Abington, after a town in Windham County, Connecticut.

In 1806 Abington Township was officially established and in 1811 the post office known as "Old Abington" was established, the third oldest in the county. The post office was initially located at the home of Elder John Miller (not extant), a Waverly minister for decades, and in 1832 was moved to the home of Dr. A. P. Bedford at 1116 Abington Road.

A leading factor in the settlement and early growth of Waverly — by then known as Abington Center — was the chartering of the Philadelphia and Great Bend Turnpike, which followed the Warrior's Path through the forest on present-day Abington Road (known also historically as Main Street).The turnpike was chartered by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1818, work began in 1820, and the road was completed in 1824. The earliest home in Abington Center was built in 1820 by John Flannagan the corner of the Turnpike and Carbondale Road. It was followed in 1822 by that of Dr. William Nicholls at the corner of the Turnpike and what later was opened as Academy Street, and in 1828 by George Parker's house/inn below Carbondale Road on the 'pike'. These first homes are not extant. Dr. William Nicholls' stay in Abington Center was short lived; following his untimely death, a new doctor came the settlement, Andrew Phelps Bedford. A graduate of Yale University, Dr. Bedford (1804-1889) built the fourth home in Abington Center, the 1828 Greek Revival-style home at 1116 Abington Road, which is the oldest extant property in the district. A. P. Bedford became a leading force in the early history of the community, advocating first the creation of a railroad through Abington Center, which he felt was not growing proportionately to its surrounding neighbors including the group of cabins at Slocum Hollow (now Scranton).

Viewing the Waverly Historic District in the context of other communities in the region, even in the twenty-first century, this district exhibits a far stronger character of a early nineteenth-century village than do any comparable areas in relatively close geographical proximity.

The Waverly Historic District, with the retained rural village character brought in the 1820s by its New England forebears, stands alone in the region as a distinct architectural entity with unimpaired integrity consisting of a densely-concentrated inventory of primarily residential buildings dating principally from the middle years of the nineteenth century.

  1. Taylor, David L., Taylor & Taylor Assoc., Waverly Historic District, 2004, nomination document, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Waverly Historic District Map

Street Names
Abington Road North • Academy Street • Beech Street • Carbondale Road • Church Street • Clinton Street • Cole Street • Dearborn Street • Waverly Road

**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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