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Moravian Historic District


The Lititz Moravian Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. 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 Lititz Moravian Historic District is located within the Borough of Lititz along two main travel routes: East Main Street (PA Route 772) and Broad Street (PA Route 501). The district consists of religious, residential and commercial buildings ranging in date from c. 1755 to c. 1930. Typical architectural styles within the district include Germanic, Federal, Second Empire, Italianate, Queen Anne, American Foursquare and commercial style. Included within the district are several areas of open spaces. Among these areas are: the Moravian Church Square, the Moravian Church Cemetery, the Linden Hall riding grounds and the Lititz Springs Park.

There are 127 buildings located within the Lititz Moravian Historic District. Of these buildings, 113 are contributing and 14 are non-contributing. The general condition and integrity of the buildings within the historic district are very good. The majority of non-contributing buildings within the district were constructed after 1930, including 49 East Main Street. Approximately one half of these non-contributing buildings, like 2 North Broad Street, were constructed in quality material and design, and in time may be a contribution to the district. The other non-contributing buildings within the district, like 48-52 East Main Street have undergone many unsympathetic alterations. Included within the district are five buildings individually listed on the National Register: the John Sutter House. 19 East Main Street; the Werner House, 66 East Main Street; the Congregational Store, 120 East Main Street; the Mueller House, 137-139 East Main Street and the Sturgis Pretzel House, 221 East Main Street.

The Lititz Moravian Historic District can be divided into two major periods of development. The first period of development took place between c. 1755 and 1855, when approximately one-quarter of the buildings in the district were constructed. During this period, the Moravian Church owned all the land in what is now known as Lititz and rented building lots to church members. Members of the Moravian Church were permitted to construct houses and businesses according to the regulations of the church. During this period the Moravian Church planned a large open square along East Main Street and constructed religious and communal properties around it.

The majority of residential buildings erected during this first period of development were constructed of stone or wood. The buildings are of modest scale, either one and one-half or two and one-half stories high and set close to the street. Typically, these buildings have very few architectural embellishments.

The most popular and dominant residential architectural styles during this period of development were the Germanic and the Federal. The Warden's House at 121 East Main Street is an excellent example of the typical Germanic building in the district. This two and one-half story, five bay stone residence was the first building constructed in the new town of Lititz. Its steep pitched gable roof, fenestration and building material reflect the Germanic style. Another example of the Germanic style found in the district is the Sturgis Pretzel House at 221 East Main Street. Constructed in 1784, this Germanic house has a steep pitched roof, five bay facade and central entry with transom.

Other buildings constructed during this first century of development in Lititz were built in the Federal style. Two examples are the Werner House at 66 East Main Street and Tinsley Cottage at 300 East Main Street. Both buildings are one and one-half stories high and four bays wide. The frame Werner House has pedimented roof dormers with round arch windows, paneled wooden shutters and an ornate tracery transom above the entry. The stone Tinsley Cottage features pedimented roof dormers, reeded wooden lintels with bull's eyes and a paneled reveal entry.

The religious buildings erected during this period were constructed by the Moravian Church. The buildings were set close to the boundaries of the open square and constructed of stone. Some were later covered with stucco. The typical religious building built on Church Square in the mid to late 18th century has a five or more bay facade, is two and one-half or three stories high and has a gable or gambrel roof. Examples include the Sisters' House, 7 Church Square, constructed in 1758; the Moravian Church, 5 Church Square, constructed in 1787; and the Brothers' House, 3 Church Square, constructed in 1759. Although the religious buildings on Church Square have gone through several additions, they continue to reflect their original character.

The second period of development in the Lititz Moravian Historic District was from 1855 to c. 1930. About three-quarters of the buildings within the district were constructed during this period. After 1855, the community of Lititz was opened to non-Moravian residents. The church no longer owned all the land and buildings could be constructed without the permission and approval of the church. Both residential and commercial construction boomed during this period.

Residential buildings constructed during the second period of development carried on the modest design and scale characteristics of the earlier houses. Generally, the houses built during this period of development were two or two and one-half stories high, two, three, or four bays wide with a gable roof. Second Empire style houses commonly had mansard roofs. The primary building materials are brick and wood. Many of the buildings have only a corbelled brick cornice or decorative door for detail. Residential architectural styles during this period included Second Empire, Italianate, Queen Anne and American Four Square, though no one style of architecture is predominant.

Commercial development concentrated along the western end of East Main Street and the first block of North and South Broad Street. Like the residential buildings constructed during this development period, the commercial buildings were designed in modest scale and set close to the street. An exception to this is the three story building at 27-31 East Main. The primary building materials were brick and stone. A few buildings, like 7 South Broad Street were designed in the early 20th century Commercial style, while others like 1 East Main Street were designed in the Classical Revival style.

Another integral part of the Lititz Moravian Historic District is the large areas of open spaces. The Moravian Church Cemetery was first used in 1758. The present cemetery is divided into four sections. Section One was developed from 1758. The gravestones in this area lay flush with the ground. The next two sections of the cemetery opened in 1888 and 1908. The fourth section is beautifully landscaped, though undeveloped as a burial ground. Sometime in the late 1800's the Moravian Church gave or sold an eastern section of the cemetery to Linden Hall School. Today this area, with shrub lined borders, and beautiful landscaping, is used by the school as riding grounds. Two other open space areas in the district are the Lititz Springs Park on North Broad Street and the Moravian Church Square on East Main Street. The landscaping of these areas is carried throughout the district by the tall trees that line Broad Street and East Main Street.

Today the stages of development in the Lititz Moravian Historic District are not evident without careful scrutiny. The buildings from each period of development (pre-1855 and post-1855) are intermingled throughout the district. Commercial buildings are concentrated in the western part of the district while residential buildings are concentrated in the eastern part of the district. All the religious buildings are found along Church Square. The modest scale of the buildings, use of wood, stone and brick for primary building materials and lack of building setbacks unify the district. The tree lined streets and landscaped park, square and cemetery add to the cohesiveness of the district. And, because of a local historic district ordinance, unsympathetic alterations and new construction is kept to a minimum within the Lititz Moravian Historic District.

Significance

The Lititz Moravian Historic District is significant as the third planned Moravian settlement in the State of Pennsylvania, as the only town in Lancaster County founded as a Moravian community, and as one of only two communities in Lancaster County which may be regarded as an outgrowth of a distinct religious community. The other outgrowth of a religious community in the county is Ephrata. Lititz grew from a self-contained religious community in the late 18th and early 19th century to a local commercial center in the mid to late 19th and early 20th century. The turning point of the community's development came in 1855 when Lititz was opened to non-Moravian settlers, allowing new residents and businesses to move into the community. The district contains many fine examples of 18th and 19th century residential, religious and commercial architecture.

See: Lititz Borough: Beginnings

The administration and supervision of the community of Lititz was by the Moravian Church. Every aspect of village life, religious, social, and economic, was under the supervision and control of the Aufseher Collegium, the administrative committee of the Congregation. The Congregation was divided into choirs — children, unmarried women, unmarried men, married couples, widows and widowers for the purpose of religious supervision. Families were allowed to live in their own private homes, unlike the community houses in Bethlehem and Nazareth. Residents of Lititz were required to sign town regulations that controlled the community life rigidly.

Business interests were also conducted by the Congregation. Early church-operated businesses included the Congregational Store, 120 East Main Street; a pharmacy, believed to be the first in Lancaster County, once at 79 East Main Street; and a log tavern, better known as the Zum Anker Inn at 14 East Main Street (now the General Sutter Inn). These businesses had to make annual reports to the Aufseher Collegium.

Through the approval of the Aufseher Collegium, individual church members were granted permission to conduct other businesses. Notable individual trades were those of David Tanneberger, pipe organ builder whose organs were famous throughout the Northeast United States; John Henry Rauch, East Main Street, who is believed to have made the first screw augers in the United States; Andrew Albright, gunsmith and riflemaker; Matthias Tshudy, manufacturer of chip hats and bonnets, made nowhere else in the United States; and John William Rauch, baker, who made the first pretzels in Lititz. Because of its large concentration of craftsmen, Lititz became not only a regional center of trade, commerce and craft, but the focal point of Moravian trade and movement between Bethlehem-Nazareth and the Moravian settlements in North Carolina. By 1843, over twenty-five craftsmen were working in Lititz.

Education also played a significant part in the development of the community of Lititz. Linden Hall, the second oldest girls' school in the United States, second only to the Moravian College for Women at Bethlehem, PA (1742), opened in the Sisters' House, 7 Church Square, in 1746 and became exclusively a girls' school in 1748. In 1767, another building was added to the school (9 Church Square). It wasn't until 1794 that the school admitted non-Moravian pupils. This change in regulation not only made Lititz schools noted throughout the early Republic but increased awareness of the community as a whole. Over the years, several additions have been added to the school, the most outstanding being the Mary Dixon Memorial Chapel, 10 Church Square, constructed in 1885. All these buildings continue in use by the school today.

The Brethren or Boys' School began in 1746 in a log structure that once stood on Church Square. Young men learned the trades of the shoemaker, tailor, weaver, nailsmith, carpenter, baker, chandler and butcher. From c. 1815 to 1865, the Boys' School was known as the John Beck Academy, operated by John Beck in the log structure and the Brethrens' House, 3 Church Square.

For the first century of settlement, Lititz was a Moravian community that excluded non-Moravians. Land was owned by the Church and only rented to Moravian householders. In 1855, because of dissatisfaction felt by many of the members with the restrictive community life, the charter was changed to withdraw the Congregation's business interests and lease system. After the abolishment of the lease system, lots were sold to the Moravian occupants for $50 each. The Moravian members continued to reside in Lititz and operated their craft shops as they had done during the church lease system. It was not until twenty years after the abolishment of the lease system that the first non-Moravian Church was established in Lititz. This twenty year time lapse suggests movement into the community by non-Moravians was slow until the 1870's.

For the next half century, Lititz continued to grow and prosper. In 1863, the Reading and Columbia Railroad constructed a station along Lititz Springs Park. Travelers came to picnic in the park and many stayed at local hotels to take advantage of the healing powers the pure drinking water from the Lititz Springs was said to offer. Among the most notable settlers in Lititz during this period was General John A. Sutter, founder of Sacramento, California and initiator of the 1849 California Gold Rush. Sutter moved to Lititz because of the educational facilities for his grandchildren and because of the prospect of the Lititz Springs being good for his health. He and his wife built the house at 19 East Main Street in 1871.

The commercial significance of Lititz began in its early days when Lititz was the focal point of Moravian trade and movement within Lancaster County and between the Moravian settlements in Bethlehem-Nazareth, PA and North Carolina. Lititz was the only Moravian community in Lancaster County and believed to be the only Moravian community between south-central Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Moravians and other settlers would come to Lititz to buy goods at the Congregational Store, 120-122 East Main Street and barter with the Moravian craftsmen along East Main Street.

As Lititz continued to grow after the opening of the community to non-Moravians in 1855, so did its commercial importance. The railroad brought new people and a new transportation system for industries. By 1875, several industries, including a sash factory and a stave factory, opened along the railroad tracks just north of the historic district. These industries supplied jobs for area citizens and brought new people to town. In 1875, six Lititz merchants were identified in the Atlas of that year. Of the six, only one was listed as a skilled craftsman. The other five were general merchants carrying dry goods, groceries, boots, shoes and toys. This indicates that by the 1870's the community may have been becoming less of a craftsmen center and more of a merchandise selling area.

In 1867, the businessmen of Lititz saw the need for a banking institution and the Lititz Deposit Bank was formed. Later known as the Lititz National Bank, its building stands at 40 East Main Street. By the 1920's, East Main Street, Lititz had several additional banks, including what is today the Commonwealth National Bank at 1 East Main Street and the Farmer's First Bank at 9 East Main Street.

The area within the historic district saw a large amount of construction between the period of 1855 and c. 1930. Approximately three-quarters of the buildings within the district were constructed during this time. Commercial construction concentrated along Broad Street and the first two blocks of East Main Street (western end of the district) while residential construction during this time was intermingled with the earliest residential structures. After the 1920's, growth along East Main Street and South Broad Street began to slow down because of the lack of building lots in this area. (Building growth spread to the areas north and south of the district.) Since 1930, only seven buildings have been constructed in the district. Today, the area along South Broad Street and the first two blocks of East Main Street continues to serve the consumer needs of area residents.

Architecturally, the district includes many fine examples of building styles popular in Lancaster County from c. 1760 to c. 1930. Almost all of the buildings within the district are constructed of modest scale and of modes designs. Exceptions include the High Victorian Gothic style Mary Dixon Memorial Chapel, 10 Church Square, the three and one-half story General Sutter Inn, 14 East Main Street, and the three story, five bay commercial building at 27-31 East Main Street.

Early church, residential and commercial structures were constructed of stone or frame. Examples of these include the Warden's House at 121 East Main Street, the Congregational Store at 120-122 East Main Street, the Corpes House at 4 Church Square and the Werner House at 66 East Main Street. The stone Warden's House was constructed c. 1757. This excellent example of the Germanic style features a gable roof with pedimented dormers, nine-over six sash and a recessed paneled central entry with transom. The Congregational Store, across East Main Street from the Warden's House was constructed in 1762. This two and one-half story, five bay stucco over limestone building, was built in the Federal style and features a gable roof with end chimneys, pedimented dormers and a box cornice. The small, one story Corpes House or Leichenkapelen was built in 1786 by the Moravian Church. The stone construction and modest detailing on this building is typical of the early Moravian Church buildings. The frame Werner House is an excellent example of the Federal style, with steep pitched gable roof and central chimney. Architectural features include pedimented dormers with round arch windows, six over six sash and an ornate entry transom.

Around the 1860's, brick also became a popular building material. Many houses were constructed of brick while commercial buildings were constructed in both brick and stone. The brick building at 24 South Broad Street was constructed in the Queen Anne style. This fine Queen Anne features a round turret with conical roof; decorative wooden shingles and a wraparound porch with exposed rafters. The brick Second Empire house at 337 East Main Street is a typical example of the style within the district. The building features a mansard roof with pressed metal shingles, hipped roof dormers and two over two sash. The Classical Revival Commonwealth National Bank at 1 East Main Street was built in 1922. Constructed of stone, the building features parapet walls with a projecting cornice, Ionic column bay divisions and a corner entryway. The brick commercial building at 7 South Broad Street was built in 1917. Originally, the Lititz firehouse, the building now serves as the municipal building.

Today, the area within the Lititz Moravian Historic District retains its Moravian heritage as well as its significance in the areas of architecture, education and commerce. Many of the original buildings constructed by the Moravian Church still stand today and continue to be used by the church for religious and social purposes. Linden Hall continues to serve as an exclusive all girls' school. Downtown Lititz prospers due to its many quaint and elegant shops. Architecturally the district has not been affected by many intrusions. Most of the buildings retain their original or early architectural features. Those that have been covered with artificial siding have been done so with care, retaining such architectural features as window hoods, brackets, bargeboards, and shutters.

It is interesting to note that Lititz was instrumental in the approval of State enabling legislation for local historic districts and in 1957 became the first community in Pennsylvania to develop a local historic district ordinance. The original ordinance protected the area along East Main Street from Cedar Street to Willow Street and was enacted to protect the oldest area of the community from a proposed shopping center and airport. Because of this early historic district ordinance, both Lititz residents and local government have taken a strong stand for the protection and retention of the community.

References

Beck, Abraham, R., A Partial Chart Residential - supplementary to The Moravian Graveyards of Lititz, 1905.

Ellis, Franklin and Evans, Samuel, The History of Lancaster County, Philadelphia: Everts and Pock, 1883, pp. 1071-1091.

Horne, Dr. Byrne, Interview, September 27, 1985.

Huebener, Mary Augusta, A Brief History of Lititz, c. 1947.

Huebener, Mary Augusta, History of the Moravian Congregation of Lititz, PA; Times Publishing Co., 1949.

Lititz 1457-1907, 1907 (pamphlet).

Lititz 1756-1956, 1956.

Our Moravian Heritage, c. 1957 (pamphlet).

Souvenir of the Sesqui-Centennial of the founding of the Warwick Moravian Church, 1899 (pamphlet).

Zook, John G., Historical and Pictorial Lititz, Lititz: Express Printing Co., 1905.

  1. Wiley, Mary T., Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County, Lititz Moravian Historic District, nomination document, 1985, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Moravian Historic District Map

Street Names
Broad Street South • Cedar Street South • Center Street East • Cherry Lane • Church Square • Juniper Lane • Lemon Street East • Locust Street South • Main Street East • Marion Street East • Mulberry Lane • Orange Street East • Plum Street • Raspberry Lane • Willow Street

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