Danville Historic District
The Danville 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 Danville Historic District lies between the North Branch of the Susquehanna River and the foothills of Montour Ridge. The land rises gradually from the river to form a continuous east-west ridge running along Market Street, the highest elevation in the District, then moderating throughout the remaining portion. The District is laid out on an irregular grid oriented to the riverbank and the major streets of Mill, Market and Bloom streets. Historically, these streets have been the locus of economic, cultural and social activity in Danville. The District is irregular in shape and incorporates the National Register listed West Market Street Historic District, a residential neighborhood containing 42 contributing resources, the General William Montgomery House at 1-3 Bloom Street, and the Thomas Beaver Free Library and Danville YMCA at East Market and Ferry streets. The predominant architectural styles are Italianate with Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Second Empire, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles also represented. Buildings in the downtown range in scale from the imposing form of the Montour County Courthouse down to two- and three-story commercial buildings sited on narrow lots. Residential scale varies from small vernacular homes to impressive Second Empire mansions on large tracts. Most of the commercial or public buildings are brick or frame construction with a few notable stone examples and buildings incorporating cast iron elements. Likewise, residences are predominantly brick or frame construction with a number of log buildings and several outstanding stone structures. While the District contains a few buildings which were built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the vast majority date from the dawning of the iron age in the 1840s to the early 20th Century. Overall, the District exhibits good integrity.
In the downtown, Mill Street, the primary commercial artery, follows a north-south alignment with secondary streets intersecting on east-west tangents. Mill Street is situated on the western edge of the District with the County Courthouse sited on the southern boundary line. Commercial buildings, ranging in height from two to three stories, dominate Mill Street, fronting directly on the sidewalk. The Montour County Courthouse, set in an open courtyard, is the notable exception to this rule.
A total of 98 commercial buildings are sited within the District, representing a diversity of commercial styles, building materials and periods of storefront development dating from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. The predominant architectural character of Mill Street was established during the peak years of Danville's development as an industrial center. Commercial buildings from this period are substantial in scale and architectural massing, richly detailed with both structural and applied ornamentation. The majority of these buildings are of brick masonry construction which exhibit a variety of masonry features including blind arches and corbelling. An unusual commercial building in the district is sheathed in pressed metal to imitate the appearance of stone. Massive panelled, bracketed, and elaborate roof and storefront cornices impart a distinctly 19th Century character to the commercial architecture of Mill Street.
Several buildings in the downtown are constructed using decorative cast iron structural components in the storefront and upper story facades. A number of these buildings exhibit an elaborate use of this material in columns, lintels, spandrels and thresholds in their massive facades.
East and west of Mill Street, the District contains the predominantly residential neighborhoods of the West Market Street Historic District (National Register, 1985) and the Market Square neighborhood to the east. Streets paralleling the river -- Water, Front, Market and Mahoning -- follow this east-west alignment conforming with the downtown grid in the southern part of the District. Early development occurred in the Market Square neighborhood oriented to trade along the river and Market Street. Danville's original marketplace was located along the southern side of East Market Street between Ferry and Pine streets. Houses bordering this area are set back from the street (typical of a village common) to accommodate the market activity. These expansive lawn arrangements, typical of early development patterns, are found in the older neighborhoods south of Market Street. Later, homes in this area were constructed adjacent to the sidewalk with little or no setback. Residential buildings in the Market Square neighborhood are predominantly of brick and frame construction with a few early log structures and later mansion-scale houses constructed of stone. Public buildings and churches are common in the Market Square neighborhood, generally fronting directly on the sidewalk. These public buildings, of varying construction, are massive in scale reflecting their importance.
The West Market Street neighborhood was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. This area, located west of Mill Street, contains 42 contributing resources of varying age and architectural styles. In the early 1800s, William Montgomery donated a parcel of land to be used for the development of a private academy and adjoining residential lots. In 1818, the Danville Academy was founded and 31 residential lots sold to owners who were granted approval by the Academy's Board of Directors. A deed restriction was enacted that required the owners of these properties to sell their houses back to the Academy if they decide to move. This area came to be known as "Quality Street" because it was home to many of Danville's leading families. The West Market Street neighborhood contains residential structures of predominantly brick and frame construction with larger mansion-sized homes constructed of stone. The neighborhood is densely developed with the majority of the houses fronting directly on the sidewalk with later residences containing small front yards.
North of the downtown area, streets are generally laid out in relation to Bloom Street, which follows a northeastern direction. With the growth of the iron industry in the mid-1800s, residential development began to be sited along Bloom Street until the latter half of the 19th Century. South of Bloom Street, houses are closely sited and generally front directly on the sidewalk. North of Bloom Street, Victorian era residential structures are less closely sited with minor setbacks from the sidewalk. Houses are predominantly brick or frame construction with a few stone examples.
Several buildings from the early 19th Century are extant in the District representative of the Federal style. The earliest dated building is the house of town founder William Montgomery. Built in 1792, this 2-1/2 story stone Federal three-bay structure has a simple projecting cornice with returns. The house contains original 8-over-12 and 6-over-9 window sash, panelled shutters and pedimented entrance. An attached frame ell on the east side replaced an earlier log house. The property is bounded by a stone retaining wall and wood picket fence of early construction. The C. Sechler house at 101 Bloom Street is a painted 2-1/2 story, three-bay side hall residence, which is in excellent condition and has excellent architectural integrity. The entrance consists of a door with sidelights and a multi-light transom. Windows are 6-over-9 on the first floor and 6-over-6 on the second floor. All windows retain their original shutters. A simple molded cornice highlights the gabled roof. The double end wall chimneys are linked with a low parapet wall.
The Greek Revival style is represented primarily in the District's churches and folk house forms. Mahoning Presbyterian Church and the Pine Street Lutheran Church are the most notable examples. The Mahoning Presbyterian Church, built in 1853, features a full temple-form pedimented entrance supported by six fluted Doric columns. Built of common bond brick, the pilastered facade topped by an elaborate frieze combines to make this building truly impressive. A multi-tiered cupola housing a belfry and clock finishes this embellished example of Greek Revival architecture. Pine Street Lutheran Church, c. 1860, is a more restrained example of the Greek form. Also built of common bond brick, the facade features four brick Doric pilasters topped by a pedimented facing gable. A multi-tiered cupola rises above the roofline similar to the Mahoning Presbyterian Church. A commercial example of the Greek Revival style is the Eli Trego building at 346 Mill Street. The two-story brick structure has frieze windows, simple dentiled cornice at store-front level, and an offset panelled door with sidelights and transom detail. Finally, the brick Christ Episcopal Church Rectory (1828) has a dentiled frieze with projecting cornice. The recessed entrance has sidelights and transom with four Doric pilasters flanking a paneled door.
The District contains several transitional Greek Revival buildings. The Heim Suspender Factory, c. 1835, on Front and Pine streets exhibits a combination of Greek Revival and Italianate elements. The brick building features parapeted end walls and columned full-facade front porch typical of the Federal/Greek Revival era with tall narrow windows and door topped with bracketed hoods representative of the Italianate period. The 103 Bloom Street residence is a two-story brick building with brick quoins and a front gabled projecting cornice supported by bracketing. Windows have arched hoods supported by bracketing and a highly embellished porch completes the treatment. The simple front-gabled with ell form of this transitional Greek Revival home is effectively used to create a more spacious front and side yard setting on this narrow lot.
The Italianate style is well represented in both the commercial and residential areas of the District. The Montour County Courthouse (1871) is a two-story brick structure with a pedimented central entry supported by bracketing. Tall narrow windows are set within blind arch masonry surrounds; and an arched coursed stone entry topped by a balustrade finishes the facade detail. The raised porch and a bracketed two-story cupola reflects the building's importance.
The First Ward School, c. 1870, is a two-and-a-half story building with intersecting gables, dentiled and bracketed, exhibiting fully developed features of the Italianate style. Built of common bond brick, this massive building features elongated round arched windows, hooded, set-in blind arch masonry surrounds, brick quoins, and highly embellished porch. Bnai Zion Temple, c. 1865, located on Front Street is a one-and-a-half story frame building featuring unusual corner towers with supporting bracketing and quoins, elongated round arched windows with bracketed hoods. This church building is unique in its use of frame construction. The residence located at 107 Lower Mulberry Street displays the characteristic form of the Italianate style. Built of common bond brick, the hipped-roof building features an elaborate projecting cornice with supporting brackets and elongated windows on the first floor. Numerous commercial examples of the Italianate style are prevalent in the downtown, contributing to the sense of unity in the District.
The Gothic Revival style is confined principally to churches constructed during the High Victorian period. The Grove Presbyterian Church, c. 1875, combines round arches and stone detail of the Romanesque with Gothic features. A tall, narrow stone structure with steeply pitched roof, buttresses, polychrome arched entrances and windows and corner tower, reflects the massing of the Gothic period. Christ Episcopal Church, c. 1870, combines the stonework and conical towers of the Romanesque Revival with Gothic elements. This stone building features a central crenellated tower, lancet windows, conical towers and stylized buttresses. The entrances are arched, supported by recessed columns. The frame building at 411 Pine Street displays characteristics of the Carpenter Gothic method. The building has windows with lancet shaped arches and a steep gable roof at attic level complete with a descending pendant.
Danville has several excellent examples of the Second Empire style. The William Hancock house at 11 West Market Street (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District) built by local architect Charles Wetzell, is a massive three-story stone Mansard roofed mansion of asymmetrical design. The building features a strong cornice with supporting brackets and an atypical Italian Villa inspired three-and-a-half story central tower with similar treatment. The George W. Miles house at 20 East Market Street is a three-story corner residence with centered bays on each of its principal facades. The building shares similar features of the Hancock house and is faced with an unusual green serpentine stone.
The District also contains examples of Second Empire dwellings of more diminutive proportions. The brick residence at 117 Bloom Street exhibits elaborate Italianate details in its simple design. The residence at 409 Pine Street is an example of an attached row house with Second Empire detailing. The District contains several fine examples of the Queen Anne style. The Charles Wetzell home at 100 Church Street is a three-story brick corner building with characteristic octagonal corner tower, rambling plan, recessed porches, and shingle detail on the upper story. The 300 Water Street residence displays a typical pyramidal roof of varying planes, projecting bay window and an unusual cupola. Shingle detail on the second and third stories of the frame residence finishes the treatment. The Montour County Jail, built in 1893 by Architect John Brugler, demonstrates the use of stone incorporated into the brick structure with typical pyramidal roof and octagonal corner tower.
The District also contains several houses of the Colonial Revival style. The brick residence at 102 East Market Street has characteristic windows, large entry portico, and Palladian dormer windows on the main building. The 105 East Market Street residence displays similar qualities of a more restrained nature.
A few houses exhibit Shingle style influences, but only the 130 West Market Street residence (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District) is more fully developed. Defining elements include steeply pitched roof, undulating shingle detail, and multi-light casement windows.
The District also includes three contributing sites: Memorial Park, located across Bloom Street from Grove Presbyterian Church; Market Square Park, located on East Market Street between Ferry and Pine streets; and Riverfront Park, located along Water Street between Mill and Church streets. These passive use areas consist primarily of mowed lawns and mature shade trees. Memorial Park also contains the only nominated object in the Danville Historic District -- a 73 foot stone obelisk, called Soldier's Monument, dedicated to war veterans on Memorial Day, May 31, 1909.
The overall integrity of the Danville Historic District is good. The district contains 452 buildings, one object, and three contributing sites; 116 (25%) are non-contributing. The majority of the non-contributing resources are historic buildings of various vintages that have lost their architectural detailing to insensitive alteration and removal of decorative or other stylistically distinguishing features. Several contributing buildings have been sided with synthetic materials, but retain some original features such as spindled porches and flat sawn trim. A few non-contributing buildings have been significantly altered so that little original detail remains. These buildings still retain their integrity of siting and massing, and thus detract less from the district's visual impact than modern intrusions. Eight (less than one percent) non-contributing buildings are secondary structures, primarily rear-alley garages; and 108 buildings (24%) are non-contributing primary buildings. Areas west of Factory Street along West Mahoning Street, and on the southwest side of Mill Street below the courthouse are not included in the Danville Historic District because of significant loss of integrity.
Most modern intrusions (i.e., those buildings built after 1943) are found within the Mill Street commercial district, typically one-story modern store buildings which are incompatible with the scale and facade proportions or older commercial buildings. However, historic structures still dominate the scene, and thus these non-contributing structures do not seriously diminish the street's sense of time and place. Non-contributing structures in the business district are typically replacements for buildings lost to fires or demolition.
In recent years, there has been a re-awakening of interest in the rehabilitation and restoration of buildings in the District. Many of the town's most significant buildings have survived intact merely through good maintenance procedures over the years. Commercial rehabilitation is growing in volume and recent rehabilitations, e.g., 114-116, 134, 251, 336 and 344 Mill Street have been implemented with consideration given to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.
Containing the historic commercial, governmental and residential core of the community, the Danville Historic District reflects Danville's historic significance as an industrial and trading center in the middle Susquehanna Valley and as county seat of Montour County. Although the industrial buildings of Danville's prominent iron and foundry industries no longer remain, the Danville Historic District contains homes of prominent industrialists, politicians and community leaders. Among the most significant of these individuals were William Montgomery and his son, Daniel, who founded and laid out the town in the late 18th Century, and Thomas Beaver, a prominent local industrialist and philanthropist of the-late 19th Century. The Danville Historic District also has the largest and most varied collection of late 18th to early 20th Century vernacular buildings in Montour County, as well as some of the region's finest examples of high-style dwellings, commercial, civic and, religious buildings.
By 1828, Danville possessed 75 buildings including two flour mills, a brewery, four hotels, and a newspaper in addition to earlier established businesses. The town was served by two physicians, two lawyers, and the Danville Academy which had been built upon land donated for this purpose by William Montgomery. The Susquehanna River bridge was completed that same year spurring additional commercial development increasing the population to 600 persons.
The extension of the North Branch of the Pennsylvania Canal to Wilkes-Barre opened in 1832 connecting Danville with markets in the Northeast and South. Commercial and industrial growth continued propelled by this fortuitous combination of resources, locational advantages and transportation linkages to distant markets.
Danville's iron era began with the siting of John C. Thiels' foundry in 1829. By the mid-1830s, the population had grown to 740 and several profitable foundries had been built facilitated by the development of charcoal fueled furnaces and later by even more efficient anthracite furnaces. Columbia Furnace, built in 1839, is believed to have been the first anthracite furnace in the nation. Major early iron companies included the Danville Iron Co., Cooperative Iron Works, Glendower Ironworks, Montour Iron Co., National Iron Foundry and Grove Furnaces. At the end of 1840, the town's population had grown to 1,100.
The manufacture of the T-Rail in 1845 marked the beginning of a period of great economic growth in Danville. So named to describe its distinctive "T" shape, the T-Rail was being imported from England at great cost to American interests. In 1844, skilled iron finishers from England, William Hancock and John Foley, were brought to Danville by the Montour Iron Company to begin manufacture of the nation's first T-Rail. There was great demand for the Danville T-Rail, including a major order from the Pennsylvania Canal Commission for construction of the Allegheny Portage Railroad, contributing to the town's growth and prosperity.
Commercial and industrial growth boomed; from a population of 1,100 in 1840, the town had grown to 3,300 in 1850. The first bank opened in Danville that same year (1850). By 1853, Danville possessed three rolling mills producing T-Rails, five blast furnaces, and four foundries.
In 1845, the County Seat of Columbia County was moved to Bloomsburg, but the political and business interests convinced the legislature to create Montour County in 1850, with its County Seat located in Danville. In the previous year, Danville was officially organized as a borough.
In 1854, the Catawissa, Williamsport, and Erie Railroad was constructed with the extension of the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg Railroad reaching town six years later. The rate of development hastened, and by 1857, Danville had 14 churches, 17 public schools, two banks, six hotels, three weekly newspapers, and gas-fueled lights in addition to its industrial base. During this period, the population more than doubled reaching 8,000 residents by 1857. The completion of the Danville, Hazelton, and Wilkes-Barre Railroad in 1870 propelled additional expansion of manufacturing.
By the 1880s, the early iron producing operations had given rise to complementary iron fabricating industries and other facilities seeking to capitalize upon the transportation and marketing advantages that were afforded. In 1895, the early iron works were consolidated into two firms: the Reading Iron Company operating the former Montour Iron Works west of the District appropriately known as the "Big Mill," and the Glendower Iron Works east of the District. These facilities continued to be major employers in the town until the end of the Great Depression.
The North Branch of the Pennsylvania Canal was in use until 1901 when the state ordered it to be filled in. Two trolley lines opened in Danville during 1903: the Danville- Bloomsburg Trolley and the Danville-Riverside Trolley. Both ceased operation by 1926.
Decline of the iron industry had begun with the 1873 Depression and the expansion of the steel industry. The Bessemer Process made steel stronger and less expensive to produce than iron. In addition, more concentrated and easily accessible iron ore deposits had been discovered in Minnesota rendering local holdings unprofitable to mine.
Danville's prominence as an industrial center and the prosperity this brought to the town was a compelling force in the development of its noteworthy collection of architecture. Industrial remnants of this era are practically non-existent. Most iron industry related buildings from the 19th Century have been razed, and the former sites these great mills occupied have been redeveloped or still remain vacant. In addition, the company store and a sizable number of worker houses were demolished as part of the mid-1960's Mill Street urban renewal project. Likewise, there is scant evidence of the canal system remaining in Danville with little in the way of historic interest or importance in the area.
There is, nonetheless, a substantial collection of 19th and early 20th Century architecture extant in the District. Wealthy industrialists erected architect-designed mansions, and public-spirited citizens contributed funds toward the development of sizable churches and other civic buildings. Many of these mansions, churches, commercial structures and civic edifices survive. In addition, a high percentage of 19th Century architectural features remain in the gingerbread porches, bracketed cornices, and elaborate window hoods.
Before the iron manufacturing operations began, important contributions were made by early settlers in the community.
Founder William Montgomery contributed greatly to the development of Danville through the establishment of an early trade and agricultural center on the banks of Mahoning Creek. The stone Federal house at 1 Bloom Street, built in 1792, is representative of Montgomery's success and prominence. William Magill was a physician in the early days of Danville's development; his house, built in 1814, stands at 109 West Market Street and is a contributing building in the West Market Street Historic District. Mrs. Jemima Donaldson was proprietor of the Cross Keys Tavern at Water Street and Cross Keys Alley, an early hotel built c. 1812. George Sweeney published the Columbia Gazette and The Watchman, two early newspapers in the building at the corner of East Market and Ferry streets.
A large number of significant industrialists are associated with the Danville Historic District. The Chambers and Biddle Company began operation in 1840 converting the former charcoal Columbia Furnace to anthracite coal. William Biddle lived at 304 Ferry Street. The Montour Iron Works incorporated much of this facility in its operation, later constructing a rolling mill where the first American T-Rail was manufactured in 1845. In 1853, expansions to the rolling mill complex were completed marking the facility as the world's largest and the town's largest employer. Matthew S. Ridgeway, superintendent of the mill, lived at 114 West Market Street (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District).
Simon P. Kase started the first mill in Danville for the manufacture of merchant iron in 1838. His house at 12 West Market Street (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District) is adorned with this iron work. Later, Kase was instrumental in the construction of the Danville, Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre Railroad linking Danville with Sunbury in 1870.
Industrialist William Hancock (11 West Market Street, NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District) started Glendower Iron Works in 1847 on the site of the Rough and Ready rolling mill. Superintendent and later owner of the works, George W. Miles, lived at 20 East Market Street.
Sam Huber, operator of National Iron Foundry from 1854 to 1859, started S. Huber and Sons in 1860. Noted for its patented Huber plow, the company also cast a number of iron storefronts used on commercial buildings in Danville. S. Huber's residence is at 121 Mulberry Street, while son and partner, J. S. Huber's house is next door at 115 Mulberry Street.
Peter Baldy, Jr., was director and later president of the Cooperative Iron and Steel Works, which began operation in 1871. His residence at 100 West Market Street (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District) was designed by Danville architect Charles Wetzell.
William Faux (211 West Market Street, NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District) constructed the Danville Iron Works alongside the canal in 1873. Daniel M. Boyd (5 Bloom Street), president of the First National Bank in 1881, started the Danville Nail and Manufacturing Company in 1883.
The Pennsylvania Iron Company, successor to the former Montour Iron Works and forerunner to the Big Mill, began operation in 1861. George Geisinger was chief bookkeeper, and eventually major stockholder, of the business and lived at 12 Center Street. Thomas Beaver, resident director, stockholder and overseer of the Pennsylvania Iron Company, started Danville Stove and Manufacturing Company in 1882. This company was noted for the manufacture of cast iron mailboxes with a distinctive beaver incorporated into the design. Beaver later became president of the First Bank of Danville and a philanthropist to civic and religious organizations culminating in the erection of the 1886 Thomas Beaver Free Library and YMCA (National Register, 1987). With the demolition of Thomas Beaver's hilltop mansion, the Free Library and YMCA are the remaining buildings most closely associated with the man and his ideals. In addition to this edifice, Beaver also contributed to the building of the Mahoning Presbyterian Church - 1853, and the clock tower of St. Joseph's Catholic Church. William Chamberlin was later president of Danville Stove and Manufacturing. His house stands at 9 Bloom Street.
Other industrialists also contributed to Danville's commercial development. Henry Rempe invented a self-winding clock in 1901. His house at 8 Walnut Street, store at 290 Mill Street, and factory building on Railroad Street (out of the District) are extant.
J. F. Lavigne, one-time owner of the 1897 F. Q. Hartman Silk Mill (400 Water Street) built his residence at 200 West Market Street (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District) in the mid-1910s and was instrumental in the erection of the recreation center at 201 Mill Street for women he employed in his silk mill.
Abigail Alice Geisinger (12 East Center Street) stimulated a late flurry of development with the completion in 1915 of the George F. Geisinger Memorial Hospital in honor and memory to her iron-magnate husband. Sited on the municipal boundary of Danville Borough and Mahoning Township (out of the District), the hospital has grown into a sprawling medical complex of national stature and the largest employer in the Susquehanna Valley.
Several hotels are extant within the Historic District. The earliest, Jemima Donaldson's Cross Keys Tavern c. 1812, stands at Water Street and Cross Keys Alley. Later hotels include the City Hotel, 235 Mill Street, built in 1872, replacing an earlier hotel, the Baldy House Hotel at 120 Mill Street, the G. F. Smith European Hotel at 291 Mill Street, and the Union Hall Hotel at 339 Mill Street.
Prominent professionals included physician R. S. Simington (office and residence at the corner of Ferry and East Market streets, physician William Magill (residence at 109 West Market Street, NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District), and lawyer Edward Baldy (residence 19 West Market Street, NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District), who was associated with the iron industry and later became president of the First Bank of Danville in 1856. George Sweeney published Danville's first newspaper, The Columbia Gazette, and later, The Watchman at the corner of East Market and Ferry streets. Frank C. Angle (house at 10 East Market Street) was editor and proprietor of the Morning News and Montour American and owner of the Atlas Manufacturing Co. Richard Eggert (house at the corner of Ferry and East Mahoning streets) was editor of The Gem, while Walter Green was owner of the Montour County Democrat newspaper. Green's house stands at 404 Bloom Street.
A number of significant political figures are associated with the Danville Historic District.
Robert C. Grier was President Judge of the Allegheny District until his appointment in 1846 by President James Knox Polk to the United States Supreme Court, a position he held until 1869 when he resigned due to ill health. A practicing attorney in Danville from 1818 to 1833, his residence is extant at 111 West Market Street (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District).
James Scarlet was admitted to practice in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1885 and later in the United States Supreme Court. He was prosecuting attorney of the Pennsylvania Graft Case of 1910-1911 in which taxpayers were overcharged $9,000,000 for construction of the Capitol Building. A prominent attorney in Danville for most of his life, his residence was at 113 Mill Street.
William Montgomery, Senator and Congressman, settled in Danville in 1776 and lived there until his death in 1816. In 1785, he became President Judge of the Northumberland Courts and was later elected to the State Assembly in 1779, and to the State Senate in 1791. He served as a member of the third U. S. Congress from 1793-1795 representing Northumberland County. Montgomery also received the title of "General" by virtue of a commission from Governor Mifflin in 1793 serving several successive terms as Major General in the Northampton, Northumberland, and Luzerne counties militia. His house is located at 1 Bloom Street. Daniel Montgomery, son of the founder, lived in the Montgomery homestead and was a key figure in the commercial development of Danville. In 1806, he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, serving for one term.
James Strawbridge was elected to U. S. Congress in 1872 and served for one term. He was a practicing physician in Danville from 1847 to 1889 with the exception of a tour of medical service in the army during the Civil War. He lived at 114 West Market Street (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District).
Rufus K. Polk was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1898 serving for two terms until his death in 1902. A substantial business figure, Polk was a partner in the Howe and Polk iron works, owner of the Danville Sun and Intelligencer and later co-owner of the Morning News. He built the home at 6 Walnut Street, and lived there from 1892 until his death.
Other significant politicians include Thomas Chalfant who owned and edited the Danville Intelligencer newspaper from 1861 to 1899. He served for three terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and later was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate in 1873. He was instrumental in the siting of the State Hospital for the Insane at Danville in 1867. His residence is at 415 Mill Street, and his office is at 309 Mill Street.
Dennis Bright was the first Republican from Montour County to serve in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives during 1872-1873; his house is at 132 West Market Street (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District).
Born in Danville in 1869, R. Scott Ammerman was a State Representative from 1902-1910 and lived at 109 East Market Street and 9 East Market Street.
Several prominent builders and architects are associated with buildings located in the District. Eli Trego erected mill structures for Danville Furnace in 1838, since razed. His residence and office are extant at 346 Mill Street. Archibald G. Voris (house at 108 Pine Street) constructed the rolling mill for the Montour Iron and Steel Works in 1844, since razed, and the eclectic Thomas Beaver Free Library and Danville YMCA (National Register, 1987) in 1886.
Architect Charles Wetzell designed the Thomas Beaver Free Library and Danville YMCA. Also listing to his credit were the City Hotel (1872) at 235 Mill Street, Northumberland County Jail (1876) in Sunbury, Danville National Bank (1882), the building at the corner of Market and Mill streets, W. F. Reynolds Bank building (1887) in Bellefonte, the Baldy residences on West Market Street, William Hancock residence at 11 West Market Street (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District), the First Ward School building and the Grove Mansion, all which survive, and the Danville Opera House and the enlarged Montour House, since razed. Wetzell designed and built his residence at 100 Church Street. His office was located at 251 Mill Street.
Local builder, C. S. Boaks, erected the still extant Welsh Congregational Church in 1853, Trinity Methodist Church in the 1870s, and the Danville State Hospital located east of the District in 1869. Boaks also constructed the Danville Water Works building, which has since been razed.
Architect O'Malley designed the Montour County Courthouse (1871), while contractor H. F. Hawke supplied artisans to finish the stonework on the structure, while contractor B. K. Vastine orchestrated the brickwork on the Courthouse building. Local builder Adam Gerringer erected the City Hotel in 1872.
Architect John H. Brugler designed the Montour County Jail (1893). Sol Books built the brick sections, while James Gibbs of Pottsville crafted the stonework. Brugler also designed the Leniger Brothers Drug Store building at 134 Mill Street (1901), the Jennings residence at 104 West Market Street, c. 1897 (NR, 1985, West Market Street Historic District), and the first Geisinger Hospital. E. R. Hall built the Jouvard and Lavigne Recreation Center for Girls at 201 Mill Street in 1919.
In the area of politics/government, Danville had a number of significant figures that contributed to the growth and prosperity of the region, state and nation. Supreme Court Justice Robert Grier, Congressman William Montgomery, Daniel Montgomery, James Strawbridge, Rufus Polk, and U. S. Supreme Court practicing attorney James Scarlet are figures of national importance while Congressman and Senator Thomas Chalfant and Congressmen Dennis Bright and.R. Scott Ammerman are men of state significance.
Danville was the premier industrial center in the county and much of the middle Susquehanna Valley in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Bloomsburg, with its textile interests, railroad car manufacturing facility, and college was incorporated in 1870 and had a population of 3,340 persons that year. Bloomsburg's first bank wasn't organized until 1864, with most of its industrial development occurring after 1910. Berwick's first bank was also organized in 1864 to serve a population of about 700 persons. The commercial growth of the town was fueled by the expansion of the Berwick Car Works, employing 6,200 persons in 1915 when the town had a population of 13,649.
The collection of architecture in the Danville Historic District is easily the largest and most varied in Montour County. It also includes well preserved examples of residential dwellings, typical of common Middle Susquehanna Valley vernacular styles built between the late 18th and early 20th centuries, as well as some of the region's finest examples of high-style dwellings, commercial, civic and religious buildings dating to the 1850-1910 period.
Early styles, Federal and Greek Revival, are represented in greater quantity in Danville than other valley towns. Cast iron building components, both structural and decorative, are more commonly found in Danville than in any other Middle Susquehanna Valley commercial district. The same holds true of Italianate commercial styles; Danville has the largest quantity and quality of examples than either Berwick or Bloomsburg.
Anderson, H. R., 1911-1912. Anderson's Directory and Reference Guide. Mansfield and Blossburg, PA.
Barnes. M. C. , 1870. Topographical Map of Danville and Vicinity: Ironworks and Railroad Connections. Philadelphia, PA.
Battle, J. H., 1887. History of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania. Chicago, Illinois: A. Warner & Co.
Beagle, Mildred A., 1984. A History of the Grove Presbyterian Church.
Beers, J. H., 1915. Historical Biographical Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania, Vol. 1, Beers, Chicago.
Bell, Herbert C., 1891. History of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Chicago, Illinois: Brown, Runk & Company.
Bomboy, Robert Phillip, 1991. Danville, The Bicentennial History. Haddon Craftsmen, Inc.
Brower, D. H. B., 1881. Danville, Montour County, Pennsylvania: A Collection of Historical and Biographical Sketches. Harrisburg, PA: Lane S. Hart .
Diehl, Fred W., 1969. History of Montour County. 1769-1969. Keystone Publishing Co.
Foulke, Arthur Toye, 1976. My Danville. N. Quincy, Mass.: The Christopher Publishing House.
Foulke, Arthur Toye, 1976. Picture Book for Proud Lovers of Danville, Montour County and Riverside, PA. N. Quincy, Mass.: Christopher Publishing House.
Haines, Edward B., Compiler, 1973. History of Danville: With a Review of its Business and Progress for the Year 1872-3. Williamsport, PA: Gazette and Bulletin Printing House.
Hanford, George, 1901. Directory of Columbia and Montour Counties. Elmira, NY: Advertiser Association Printers.
Hinkel, Ethel V. "Montour County: The Little County That Persevered" in Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine, Fall, 1986, p. 32-7.
Hopkins, G. M., Jr., 1860. Cummings Map of Columbia and Montour Counties, PA. Philadelphia, PA. T. S. Wagner.
Hurley, Thomas A., 1857. Atlas of Danville. Pennsylvania. Perth Amboy, NJ.
McCormick, Randy, 1985. "Danville: A T-Rail Thru History." Eagle Scout Project.
McCormick, Taylor & Associates, Inc., 1984. Danville Bridge Historic Resource Assessment. Philadelphia, PA.
McCormick, Taylor & Associates, Inc., 1986. Danville Bridge Determination of Eligibility. Philadelphia, PA.
Russel, A. F., 1879. "In Memory of General William Montgomery, General Daniel Montgomery, and John C. Boyd." Danville: Intelligencer Publishers.
Thomas Beaver Free Library and YMCA Nomination Form, National Register of Historic Places, 1986.
Walker, G. H. and Jewett, C. F., 1876. Atlas of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania. New York, NY: F. W. Beers & Company.
West Market Street Historic District Nomination Form, National Register of Historic Places, 1986.
White, Z. W., 1892-1893. White's Danville and Bloomsburg, PA. City Directories. Scranton, PA: Scranton Tribune Printers.
Woodside, Thomas, 1831. Hand drawn map of Danville, Pennsylvania.