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Julius Sturgis Pretzel House


Julius Sturgis Pretzel House, June, 2011

Photo: Julius Sturgis Pretzel House, 219 East Main Street, Lititz, June, 2011.

The Julius Sturgis Pretzel House (219-221 East Main Street) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.

Description

The Sturgis Pretzel House main section is a two and one half story stone structure built by Er Bauet Von Peterkreiter in 1784. The house is constructed of cut stone laid in narrow coursed rows and is three bays across and two bays deep. Windows on the first floor are headed with radiating arches and on the second with flat arches. The original windows have been replaced by two-over-two Victorian sash. The main entrance is set off center in the first bay. Its appearance has been altered by the small Victorian porch addition. A central chimney straddles the ridge of the steep pitched gable roof.

Before 1861 a one story stone section, constructed in similar fashion to the main house, was added to the west gable end. This addition probably served as a small kitchen wing. When Julius Sturgis moved to the house and established his pretzel factory in 1861, he added a second story to the small wing. This addition is constructed of brick and in contrast to the main section has a flat roof. The box cornice of the main house is carried across this new addition. During the same year a one and two story structure, housing the Sturgis Pretzel Factory, was adjoined to the rear of the house.

Although the house has been converted into a restaurant and museum, some of the original woodwork is still extant. Original details of note include: random plank, pegged floors; exquisite carved panels on the staircase; hand-grained doorways and colonnades; and solid wooden doors supported by strap iron hinges. The house also features original fireplaces, a smoke house in the attic. Finally the 1861 factory contains almost all of its original equipment. Ovens, iron kettles, dough breaking machines, raising racks, and drying racks have all been preserved and are still used on a limited basis for demonstration purposes.

Significance

The Sturgis Pretzel Factory begun by Julius Sturgis in 1861 was the first commercial factory for pretzel manufacturing in the United States. After serving an apprenticeship with a Lititz baker Julius moved his wife and fourteen children into the 1784 Kreiter house in Lititz with the intention of establishing a pretzel bakery.

Julius Sturgis added the brick second story to the west and first story stone addition and the one and two story factory at the rear of the Kreiter house the year he moved there. The manufacturing process which Julius perfected included every step from culturing yeast to baking and kiln-drying the pretzel dough. Supposedly, the secret Sturgis pretzel recipe was obtained by Sturgis from a wandering tramp in the Lititz area. To promote his business Sturgis established a door to door delivery route within a day's driving radius of Lititz.

Production was at its height in 1900 when four bakers and five twisters produced 5,000 pretzels a day. Retail was then extended to local stores. Until 1951 when the company moved to a new location, the factory remained in operation. The Sturgis Pretzel House is now operated as a museum where demonstrations of the pretzel manufacturing are given by Lewis Sturgis, ninety-one year old son of the founder.

Architecturally the Krieter/Sturgis Pretzel House is significant as a late eighteenth century vernacular styled house with central chimney. Not only does the interior still contain much of the original woodwork, but also the factory is still equipped with its original fittings including: bake ovens; iron kettles; dough breaking machines; and raising and drying racks.

References

Buch, Robert D., and Ralph Henry Sides. The Pretzel Story. Lincoln, PA: Buch Records Inc.. 1966.

Catholic Witness. Harrisburg.

Lancaster New Era. Lancaster.

Pennsylvania Farmer. Harrisburg.

World Book Encyclopaedia. Vol. P, Chicago: Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1971, 684.

  1. Watson, William K., and Smith, Janet C., Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Julius Sturgis Pretzel House, nomination document, 1974, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Julius Sturgis Pretzel House Map

Street Names
Main Street East

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