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Evansburg



Text, below, was adapted from a copy of the original National Register nomination document, 1971. (ADC: 3254 B02)

Significance

The Evansburg District, located in central Montgomery County, has occupied a key position in the cultural development of southeastern Pennsylvania. This district was part of William Penn's Holy Experiment, an early attempt to maintain the integrity of disparate religions, cultural and political cooperation. Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Mennonites, and Anglicans all inhabited the region and presented admirable models of religious toleration and harmony unknown to many parts of Colonial America. Dr. Sylvester K. Stevens, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has described this area in the following manor: "There is good evidence to support the argument that this is the last, virtually unspoiled valley where William Penn's idea of peaceful religious coexistence actually was practiced for over two centuries."

Evansburg is one of America's earliest planned villages. The town features excellent examples of eighteenth and nineteenth century rural architecture. The eight-arch stone bridge constructed in 1792 is included separately in the National Register of Historic Places and has been termed "the oldest bridge of its size in continuous heavy service in America." The Germantown Pike, which runs through Evansburg, has been for over two centuries one of the most important transportation arteries in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Description

  1. The Heyser Homestead (Nedrow Eye Doctory and House) is located on Township Line Road, Evansburg. The nine acre property accommodates an elegant brownstone barn and several well-preserved outbuildings, including a root cellar, summer kitchen, smoke house, and well. This German farm belonged to the Hyser family for many years although title search has revealed that the house was associated with the well-know Nedrow family of Philadelphia. According to local tradition, the house contains vats that were used for the dyeing of uniforms during the Revolutionary War. The homestead is primarily significant for its excellent eighteenth century masonry and architecture and for the outstanding condition in which it remains today.
  2. The John Umstat (Umstadt) House, on Township Line Road, Evansburg, is a well-preserved example of eighteenth century architecture and is important for its association with famous families in the area of Evansburg. Umstat received the land from Mathias Van Sebber, who was granted it by William Penn in 1702.
  3. The Ann E. Casselberry House and Barn are located on Evansburg Road, north of the Germantown Pike. The house, built between 1798 and 1804, was sold to Ann E. Casselberry who vacated the adjacent Derrick Casselberry House to live in the new one after the death of her husband. The stone masonry of the house is notable as is the handsome barn on the property. Both are good examples of late eighteenth, early nineteenth century architecture. The property is still owned by the Casselberry family in the name of Anna Casselberry.
  4. The Paul Engle House is located on the bank of the Skippack Creek at 36 Evansburg Road, Evansburg. By the time of Paul Engle's death in 1795, the farm was well-established. In the deed received by Daniel ?Rees? in 1795, mention of water rights indicated the importance of the Skippack Creek in the economic and technological development of the area.
  5. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel School House (today the Evansburg Free Library) is situated on the northeast corner of Evansburg Road and the Germantown Pike. The small, stone-plastered building which predates 1792 was remodeled to resemble the St. James Church, Perkiomen of 1721. The building is surrounded by gravesites of Revolutionary War soldiers buried after the Battle of Germantown and colonists' graves found there date from as early as 1723. Paul Engle willed money to the school to aid in the education of poor children -- an unusual practice for the time. In 1838 the school was leased as a public school and may have been one of the first such schools in the nation. Other uses to which the building has been put include the housing of a printing press used in the production of an early English translation of the Bible, as well as serving as a mortuary, chapel and a library. The building today houses the Evansburg Free Library.
  6. The St. James Church, Perkiomen, located at 3768 Germantown Pike, was one of the founding churches of the Episcopal Church in America. The original stone church was erected in a cemetery in 1721, but a log structure may have occupied the property as early as 1708. In 1843 the present church was built utilizing the stones and perhaps the two windows on the facade from the old building which was torn down to make room for the expansion of the cemetery. The original datestone of the 1721 church is set in the facade of the present one and the initials of the Church wardens of the time are easily legible. According to Professor Anthony N. E. Garvan of the University of Pennsylvania, the plastered stone church represents "a very moderate and conservative adaptation of the Gothic revival in the facade and the Oxford Movement in interior furnishings." The St. James Church, Perkiomen is an example, in excellent condition, of a rural 19th century place of worship.
  7. The Funkite Cemetery located south of the Germantown Pike on a hill across from the Skippack Creek Road serves as a memorial to Mennonite Minister Christian Funk, excommunicated from his church in 1777 for his advocacy of payment of the Revolutionary War tax. The Mennonites are a pacifist sect, but Funk argued that suppression of the colonial revolt by the British might jeopardize the religious freedom which the Mennonites had migrated to America to find he viewed payment of the tax as incumbent upon Mennonites who valued a reconciliation after they were driven from the church, but neither side would compromise its deeply held beliefs. By 1850, the last of the Funkites had died out. The cemetery contains 32 markers, the earliest dating from 1815. Although the land is overgrown, the stones remain in excellent condition.
  8. The Glebe House, 3814 Germantown Pike, part of which dates 1737, is significant for the role it played before and after the Battle of Germantown in September 1777. The term Glebe House first appears in 1764 when the building is described as "the Glebe House belonging to ye Society's Mission of Radnor and Perquihoma." The term Glebe refers to a farm on which the minister raised his own food so as to be self-supporting. On September 20, 1777, the 3-story plastered stone house (the present day rectory of St. James Church) was the scene of a war council of Washington's troops/ Local historians assert that soldiers were quartered there after the battle. The building is representative of 18th century country architecture — typical of the early English builders of Evansburg. It is also important as one of the earliest Glebe Houses and farms in the Anglican Church in America still standing.
  9. The Samuel D. Shupe House, 136 Evansburg Road, was the home of a Philadelphia merchant. This two-story plastered stone house was built in the early 1840s and serves as an excellent example of mid-nineteenth century architecture of this region of Montgomery County.
  10. The Isaac Mester House, 138 Evansburg Road, is a two-story, two bedroom plastered fieldstone house with end chimneys. The home was built in 1869 by Mester on land that at one time belonged to St. James Church. The home is an excellent example of mid-nineteenth century architecture of this region of Montgomery County.
  11. The George Coulter House, located along Germantown Pike is another example of early nineteenth century architecture in Montgomery County. This home, built by Coulter in 1817, is a two-story plastered fieldstone farmhouse with two end chimneys and a pent roof.

  12. The Stephen Rush House, located at 3851 Germantown Pike is a two story fieldstone structure that served as a center of food and drink to travelers along Germantown Pike. This Inn was built about 1803 on land purchased from St. James Church.
  13. The Evansburg Inn, located at 3833 Germantown Pike, is a large two-story plastered fieldstone inn with end chimneys. The inn was built between 1803 and 1806 by Jacob Fronefield. Fronefield later sold the inn to George Hocker, a "yeoman" from Whitemarsh. Several owners later the property was purchased by Stephen Rush. Rush also owned an additional inn along the Germantown Pike. Rush was a descendant of Dr. Nejamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the father of American psychiatry.
  14. The John Keyser House, located at 3847 Germantown Pike is a two-story plastered fieldstone structure with end chimneys. Its architecture is similar to many other early homes in this region of Montgomery County. This structure was built by John Keyser between 1799 and 1804. A blacksmith shop was located to the rear of the house and was always busy due to its proximity to the Reading-Philadelphia Turnpike. The property was later owned by Ephraim Boyer, a member of the Boyer family that founded Boyertown. The house was also owned by Henry K. Boyer, an attorney and one-time Speaker of the House for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  15. The Owen Evans House, located at 3856 germantown Pike, is a two-story plastered fieldstone structure that has been modernized somewhat. The structure was built by Owen Evans between 1784 and 1805. Evans was one of the most famous gunmakers in the United States. In 1797 he received a contract from Governor Mifflin and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 1,200 guns. These arms were used in the War of 1812.
  16. The Changing House, located on the east bank of the Skippack Creek is a country version of a Philadelphia town house. It is constructed of plastered fieldstone with the central door flanked by two windows and three windows on the second floor. Samuel bard, a Welsh stone mason, built the house on land purchased in 1811. The house was sold in 1832 to the First Regular Baptist Church for use as their first church and baptismal "changing house." The Changing House was used until 1912 when a modern pool was constructed some distance from the stream.
  17. Keyser's Mill, located on Skippack Creek Road and Germantown Pike is a four-story structure located adjacent to the Creek. The building is constructed of plastered fieldstone and fenestration consists of rows of three windows. The gable end faces the Skippack Creek Road. The earliest legal mention of the mill was in 1849 when Daniel Croll granted the grist mill to Jacob and Philip Croll. Prior to its purchase for the Evansburg State Park, the property belonged to Byron Keyser. The mill is important because it is larger than the typical two-story mill of the eighteenth century. This mill is the last of the water-powered mills in the area.
  18. The Peter Williams Tavern, located on Germantown Pike at Skippack Creek is a three-story plastered stone structure. Fenestration consists of three windows across the two upper floors and two windows and an entrance door placed to the right on the first floor. In the fashion of Philadelphia houses there are no first or second story windows on the side, only one small attic window placed off center. This house is said to be the place in which the planning for the Skippack Bridge took place in 1792. Williams acquired the property in 1790 from Mary Bramwell.
  19. The Skippack Bridge, already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is an eight-arch stone bridge that was built in 1792 to cross the Skippack Creek on Germantown Pike in Lower Providence Township. The thirty-three foot wide bridge has carried traffic since its completion in 1792. The original datestone reads, "Skippack Bridge, 1792," and bears the names of Mathew Potts, John Mann and Conrad Boyer. The bridge was repaired in 1874 and a second datestone bears among others the name of John Stevens, one of the commissioners. The bridge was funded by monies of which at least a part was collected by lottery in 1762. During the February term, 1792, a court-appointed six man jury was instructed to lay out a road and a bridge easily accessible from either the present Manatawny Road or germantown Pike and the Norristown Road. One of the points of reference used in surveying the bridge was the Peter Williams Tavern which also became the location for the various board meetings during the construction period.

Providence Square is an anomaly that showed up on roadmaps because of the crossroads. It should be included in the Evansburg District because the dwellings in this area belonged to the Funkites whose lands bordered both sides of the Skippack Creek. Title search revealed homes belonging to Abraham Funk, Christian Rosenberry and William Smith (original Rosenberry home) on Grange Avenue on the east side of the stream. In addition to these Funkite, George Evans lived on the east bank of the Skippack in an early Federal period house which he built or had built for him. On the west bank of the Skippack, the Evansburg side, one finds the Funkite Cemetery, the site of the early Meeting House, Keyser's Mill (which was owned by Daniel Kroll a Funkite -- Croll's house is in Evansburg), the Miller's Houses and Barn. The areas really belong together because of the mixture of Funkites and Evanses. The high dam would, of course, separate these areas, but historically the area is one.

See Map

Street Names: Evansburg Road, Germantown Pike, Ridge Pike

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