400 Block Of Front Street
Address: 400 Block of Front St, between Church and Bridge
The 1876 map shows 13 businesses lined up along the east side of Front St between Church and Bridge Streets. The buildings were renumbered around the turn of the century. 403 was later changed to 401, etc. Early advertisements show the older street number. These buildings are rather deep and there were many boarders and families living above and behind the businesses.
The Sanborn map section below is from 1896 and shows both the old and the revised (closest to building) street numbers; this provides a reference for identifying locations of businesses and residences listed in pre 1896 ads and directories.
Corner of Front & Church:
Nathan Fegley came to the promising new town soon after the Crane Iron was built and opened a store here and in 1849 established the Temperance Hotel. In addition to his mercantile business, Fegley opened the first lumber and coal-yard in Catasauqua. He left in 1854, and his store passed into the possession of Weaver, Mickley & Co., a firm which was composed of Valentive Weaver, Edwin Mickley, Samuel Thomas, and John Thomas. George S. Corwin established a general store here in 1861. The business was carried on by his son Charles as Charles Corwin & Bro. (Corwin’s lived then at 527 Third). In 1881, the front of the store was reported to be devoted to dry goods (dresses), but also had grocery and hardware sections. George Hyde operated a barber shop in the building. A Scotsman, Robert Sharpe, ran the Corner Shop here beginning in 1894: he carried tobacco, candy, nuts, fruits, soft drinks, pretzels, etc. The building after 1898 was occupied by the Fuller Oil & Supply Company. In 1912, Edwin Donecker of Allentown purchased the business from C. H. Fuller’s estate.
The Porter Lodge had one of the finest lodge-rooms in the valley comprising the entire upper floor of the Fuller Block, corner of Church and Front streets. The 1914 directory lists Ira H. Miller having a photography studio on the 2nd floor. Robert Jacobsen advertised a men and women’s clothing and department store at 401 Front St 1927: “Everyone, come and see ‘Bob”. The 1930 directory lists he and his wife Gertrude living on the premises. The Catasauqua Dancing Academy was also at 401 Front in 1930, on an upperr level; Ray Scheckler, manager. They sponsored dances open to the public.
In the 1950s, Miller’s Department Store was located on this corner, started in 1930 by Philip Miller. Miller purchased the building in 1948, and remodeled it along with an adjoining building, connecting them together and adding a women’s and children’s department. In the 60s-70s, it was converted to apts.
See also 403, 405 and 407.
403 Front St
Name: Miller’s Shoes/Fry’s Harness Shop/Fuller Oil & Supply Co
403 Front St was once (1875+) home to R. A. Miller’s shoe store, which sold shoes, hats, and boots through at least 1890. Robert A. Miller lived above the business. By 1896 it was a harness shop (see Sanborn map). L. M. Fry operated a harness shop/saddlery here in 1885-1900. Lewis Fry bought the business from Charles Rau in 1863. He went blind in 1875. but continued cutting, fitting and sewing harnesses and collars. He also was a collector and dealer in antique guns, clocks, etc, In 1894, a news article tells of a 100 year old gun he acquired that was 7ft, 4in long. He moved the business to 340 Second; his widow and son Charles took over the business after he died.in 1902. By 1908, it was part of the Fuller Oil & Supply Co.
405 Front St
Name: Reis/Schifreens/Angelo’s Shoe Service
Before building the elegant brick Reis Building further up on Front St, Max Reis ran his gentleman’s clothing business, specializing in hats, out of 405 Front St. He established himself here ~ 1877, moving the 500 block in 1882. He and his wife Louisa lived on the premises. In 1896, 405 Front was a millinery shop run by Flora Harte; Flora and Mabel Harte lived on the premises. In 1908, Abraham Rosenbluth ran the Philadelphia Clothing Store here. In 1912, Solomon Schifreen opened a ladies’ and gents’ clothing store; actually a mini department store carrying clothing, hats, shoes, jewelry, watches, clocks, musical instruments, etc. The store covered 405-407 Front; the family address was 405. During and after WWII, Morris Schifreen was a commander at the American Legion and was able to get clothing when it was otherwise difficult to do so. He provided pants and shirts for the volunteer firemen to wear when they marched in a parade of the 4 County Firemen’s Association just after WWII.
Also located in this building at one time was Ira H. Miller, photographer, who did both day and night time (using mercury lights) work and handled photos, enlargements and post card finishes. Also, here at one time was Welch the barber.
407 Front St
Name: O. M. Fuller and Schlauch/Schrifreens/Gillette’s Wallpaper & Paint
Orange Fuller and Richard G. Schlaugh (Schlaugh later became a manager at the Fuller Co) established a stationery store here in the 1870s. They also also ran a news stand, carried school supplies, and provided bound log books for businesses, such as the Crane Iron. O. M. Fuller bought out Schlaugh and it became the O. M. Fuller Co. (Orange Fuller (resided at 235 Bridge St). In 1891, Charles E. Sheckler, Jr. bought the business and remained here for 11 years before moving to Church St opposite the Town Hall (previously part of the Crane on the 300 block of Front, north side). The store carried text books back when students had to provide their own books & supplies for school. He also added wallpaper to the inventory. The 1890 directory shows J. J. Christ clerking (and living) here. Afterward the store focused on stationery and wall paper, and provided house and sign painting and house decorating services. In 1898, a fire broke out in the store due to a defective flue, resulting in a total loss of stock. At the time, the Knights of Malta had a lodge on the second floor. John Clugston converted the store into a meat market (his father had operated a butcher business at Second & Peach) and in 1902, the Sanborn map shows a pawnshop here.
Solomon Schifreen was proprietor of a watches and jewelry business herre in 1908 and later expanded his department store (from 405), carrying ladies and gents apparel, hats, shoes, jewelry, watches, clocks, musical instruments, etc.
Angelo’s Shoe Service operated at 407 Front St after the WWI for 21 years (1918-1939). Before the war in 1915, his shoe business was at 511 Front St. Angelo Ingelese learned shoe making in his native Italy. He later moved to Bridge St beside the current post office.From 1949 to 1954, John Gillette operated a paint and wallpaper store in this building. He was previously a machinist for the Philadelphia, Bethlehem and New England Railroad, but was ‘idled’ during the Bethlehem Steel strike in 1949. After closing the store, he became a custodian at St. Mary’s. It later was a candle shop and most recently was Branded’s, a children’s clothing consignment shop which closed in 2013.
409 Front St
Name: Lawall’s Drug Store
Lawall’s Drug Store was established in 1856 by Jacob S Lawall, first at 209 Front St, then here. It was in business for 91 years, with his sons C.E. and E.J Lawall operating the business starting int he 1890s. Lawall’s was once the scene of the only soda fountain in Catasauqua. Before electric lights, Lawall made his own blend of lamp oil designed to be cleaner burning than neat’s foot oil or tallow. It tended to be more explosive and could only be used in pewter or leaden lamps, not glass. Only the rich could afford lamp oil then; the poor used candles. Lawall’s can be seen to the right of the electric applicance shop in the photo. Pre-1896, this was 413 Front St.
In 1947, Croll’s Cut Rate Store moved into this location and continued the tradition by installing a soda fountain.
411 Front St
Next to Lawall’s, and two doors below the Mansion House, F. A. Gemmel ran a millinary business out of their home here in 1880. Her husband, John, was an insurance agent and Samuel Gemmel, a tinsmith, lived with them. The 1896 Sanborn map shows this being a florist, but Flora Harte’s millinery shop moved here about that time from 405 Front and was here into the early 1900s.
The 1898 directory list Calvin D. & Mary A I Peters living at 411 Front; an 1898 newspaper listing lists Peters offerring both baked good s and ice cream. They previously lived in West Catty. They later lived and ran their business at 423 Front.
In 1908, Isaac Kemp opened a boots and shoe shop here. In 1913, the store sold Singer Sewing Machines; August Seng was the manager. He resided with his wife Rosa on the premises. In 1918, Paradise Candy Co was listed here in the directory.
In 1945, Pickerings opened his ladies wear store here. The business expanded into 413 Front St in 1947 and later a shoe department was added. In 1952 men’s wear was added. Pickering actually started his business on a house-to-house basis in 1938.
Locals remember this location as a restaurant and/or sandwich shop in the late 1900s. Fuzzies Steak Shop (run by “Fuzzy Dalpezzo) had a juke box in the corner, a couple pinball machines, cherry fountain cokes, and steak sandwiches and hoagies – Fuzzies moved to Hanover Ave after closing here in the 60s. The Pancake and Fritter House was here, or close by, in late 60s, early 70s. and Dick’s Coffee Shop was also in this area for time (~1966).
Possibly the first business located here was Joseph Troxell’s shoe repair shop and store. He later moved the business to the 700 block of Front. In 1866 Simon Kemp opened a clothing business on lower Front before being joined by his brother Charles from Germany. In 1880 they moved their fine store here, next to the Mansion House. Kemp’s tailor and clothing shop employed a few men and ladies from the town as seamstresses and tailors. A shoe department was added in 1907. Charles continued the business after his brother, Simon, died in 1908. Kemp also ran a livery business c. 1885 at Bridge and Railroad and later ran an ice business along with his clothier business. Currently 411-413 is a Laundromat.
Many of these businesses also had apartments in back and on upper floors. Patrick and Mary Allen lived here in 1927-30; when he was listed as a laborer. They previvously lived at 332 Church 1922-26) and before that at 1024 Second (1918-1921), at which time he was identified as a brakeman. Besides the responsibilities of applying and releasing the train’s brakes, the brakeman also was responsible for coupling and uncoupling the train’s cars.
The photo on the left was identified as Kleppingers at 403 Front St before the business expanded and his business is listed in the directories from the early 1900s consistently as 403 Front. However the store was not actually at 403 (which was in the building on the corner of Church), but was always next to Lawall’s as shown in the old photo to the left.
Wilbur Kleppinger started as an electrical contractor before opening his business here around 1918. The photo on the left of the Home Electric Store” shows the later expanded business front that went along with the expansion of the business into a large electric appliance and lighting supply and service business. Note the angled parking and trolley tracks along Front St. South of the storefronts on the other side of Church behind the trees stood the original home of David Thomas on the SE corner of Front & Church – still standing in this photo.
The next photo shows a lineup of Kleppinger’s delivery & service trucks, extending the whole block from the clock at the corner by the bank down to Church St, with employees posed by the delivery trucks. Following are more snap shots of the employees: the service crew and the store employees. The photo of the service crew was incorporated into the street mural on the 500 Block of Front St.
Wilbur and Mabel Koehler Kleppingers lived in a Victorian style home on South Front St below the George Taylor Home, previoualy a Koehler/Kochler family home.
Address 415-417 Front St
Name: Mansion House
Built by Capt. Henry Harte in the 1860’s. His son, Lewis K. Harte (“Kos”) succeeded him. Other proprietors were Albert Fry, Frank Medlar (1891), Harteg & Hopkins, and Hopkins, who sold the business to Henry R. Blocker in 1889 (See ad). The hotel had 20 rooms. The Allentown Leader noted that William Hopkins was the proprieter in Oct 1896. The hotel management continued to change (though the building was owned by Herman , and later August Kostenbader): Chippie Feenstra, John “Boss” Petrie, “Boss’” son Edward, Howard Walker, and Michael Olejack. Chas H. Bush was the proprietor in 1930. Willis E. & Alice Fenstermaker bought the business in 1944. In 1979, Douty’s took over the building, which became apartments. In 2013, two local gentlemen restored the building, to reestablish first floor commercial space and provide modern apartments upstairs. The first floor is currently an art gallery, studio, class, and performance space.
In 1885 F A Gemmel ran a millinery shop at 415 Front. In 1898, at 415 Front, Frank Beck established a news agency here, which was sold to Edward Burns (not Kookie), then Charles Markell took it over in 1951. The shop carried newspapers, pocket-size books and magazines.
The 1908 directory of town lists Harry Costenbader, a teamster, and his wife Annie residing at 417 Front.
Address: 419/421 Front
There was a fruit stand in the “basement” and also Geo E. Hyde’s barber shop on the premises. At street level, L. M. Fry operated a harness shop/saddlery here in through 1894. Lewis Fry bought the business from Charles Rau in 1863. He went blind in 1875. but continued cutting, fitting and sewing harnesses and collars. He also was a collector and dealer in antique guns, clocks, etc,. In 1894, a news article tells of a 100 year old gun he acquired that was 7ft, 4in long. He later moved the business to 403 Front, and then to the 300 block of Second St.
In 1896 the Allentown leader reported “A large Welshbach double tubular light has been placed in front of the store of Benjamin Gibson, on Front Street, between Bridge and Church. The improvement is a notable one and speaks well for Mr. Gibson and the gas company”. In 1885-1894, Benjamin Gibson was a clerk at J. Taylor’s, a neighborhood corner grocery/merchandise store on Second between Wood and Willow. From 1895 to 1912 he had his dry goods and groceries store here at 419 Front St:. He and his wife Anna and son, Benjamin, Jr. lived on Kurtz St. He was listed as a traveling salesman after 1914 and died c 1921/2. In the 1890s, the Funk family lived at 419 rear/421 Front. John was a wheelwright at a shop on Howertown & Wood. After his death, his widow Catherine and a son William and daughter Amanda continued to reside here in to the 1900s. William was a carpenter; in 1900 he built a house on a lot he owned on Walnut below Howertown. Amanda was a teacher.
By 1913, 419 Front was vacant, but the photo above shows the building open for business in 1914 during Old Home Week – the sign on the window advertises resoling ladies and gentlemans shoes. Nick Stano is the owner on the left; James McQuillan, on the right, worked for him. Nick and his son, Michael, ran the business as Stano and Son’s through 1918, at which time his son Michael died during the Spanish flu epidemic. An ad in a October 1917 paper gave a schedule of pickups such that if you placed your shoes outside on the doorstep during a given time period, Stano’s would pick them up: you left directions inside the shoes.
Address: 423 Front St
In 1851, Robert Streham worked on a cobbler’s bench for John Wilson before starting his own business here in 1856. Many young men learned the trade working for him. He relocated his business several times before settling at Second St. Benjamin Walp first worked for him, before setting up his own bench in the Romig Building near Race St. However in 1890, Walp had his business here. Walp was very precise and scientific about custom-making shoes for people – and his reputation resulted in his making shoes/lasts for people all over the US. Walp relocated to Second St near Bridge before he retired in 1911, and his son took over the business.
The 1900 directory lists Calvin D. & Mary A I Peters living at 423 Front where they ran an ice cream and confectionery busines – which they closed in 1901. They moved to West Catasauqua, where Calvin ran the Vienna Model Bakery. By 1912, Calvin & Mary Peters had moved to 1019 Howertown Rd in North Catasauqua, and Calvin Peters ran Catasauqua Construction Co, a concrete business. In 1914, the business address was 112 Pine. By 1918, the Peters had moved to 1091 Sixth St. He had served as president of borough council while being active in many local organizations.He served as president of the Charotin Hose Co at the time of his death in 1928. His obituary stated that his pall bearers were his six By sons. The Peters also had two daughters. Mary Peters died in 1945. A son, Calvin, built the Sinclair service station at Second and Middle in 1940.
The 1908 Sanborn map shows the bank here temporarily, between its move from lower Front St, until it could occupy the new building on the corner, which wasn’t dedicated until 1910. From 1910-1915, Morris Wolf ran a business “dyeing, cleaning, and repairing” at 423 Front St – he boarded at the Eagle Hotel; by 1916 he had moved the business to 611 Front (and was living at the Penna Hotel). Before being here, Morris’s tailor shop was at 424 2nd. The R. S. Davies shoe business started here in 1915 as Davies Bros. A year later, R. S. Davies Shoes moved to 125 Bridge St. Harry Sheckler, jeweler, moved his shop here sometime between 1922 and 1927. Circa 1930, The Toggery Shop was at 423 Front St, operated by Edward C. Cunningham, a habadasher (ie made & sold hats). The Cunninghams lived at 748 Second St. Later, Herman’s sold and installed kitchen cabinets 2-3 doors up from the Mansion House, likely in this building.
Address: 425 Front St (was 429)
Charles Myers ran the cigar shop here in 1885. The 1898 directory lists Ammon H. Bachman and wife Clara operating a grocery and provisions store at 425, and living at 423 Front. Schwepfinger’s cigar business and stationary business was still here in 1908.
In 1911, Robert E. Sheckler opened a restaurant, the White House Café, in 423-425 along with an ice cream parlor and ran it through the late 1920s, the property being owned by Glace. Afterwards, Morris Moyer (a local baker) took over the restaurant and enlarged the parlor to handle 80-100 guests.
In 1935, Atty Thomas E Weaver (son of Attorney Thomas E Weaver) opened up an office suite (second floor?) at 425 Front St. Thomas and Emma Weaver lived at 537 Howertown Rd. Weaver was solicitor for the borough for many years.
Helen’s Beauty Shop moved here from 208 Bridge St, before moving to 524 Kurtz St (Helen Wonderly’s family home) in 1948. John O. Gillette opened Gillette’s Wallpaper and Paints was here in 1950.
Address: 427 Front St (was 431)
Name: Henry J. Souders Tinshop
A fifth generation tinsmith, Henry Souders, originally from Lebanon Co, came to Catasauqua for a job and decided to stay. First working for Schneller’s tinshop, he soon opened his own in 1861. He and his wife Charlotte lived, and raised their family on the premises. Souder stocked and sold parlor, office and cooking stoves, hot air furnaces, cooking ranges, and home goods. He also provided plumbing and gas fitting services. The Feb 20, 1901 issue of the Alletown Leader reported on the fiftieth anniversary of the Sounders; at which time Henry was 70 and still working. 427 Front was a picture framing shop in 1913 run by Wm. M. Maurer (lived on premises with wife Ella and (son?) Leroy).
By 1930, 427 Front housed a restaurant run by Francis A.E.Scheckler and a jewelry business run by Harry B. Scheckler. Francis and his wife Marianne lived on the premises as did Harry, Henry F (bookeeper), and Maria, widow of Charles E.
Benner’s Restaurant was at 427 Front for 10 years before moving to 120 Front St in 1948.
Address: 429 Front St
The 1885 directory lists 429 (then 435) as the jewelry and clock business of L. H. Bellsfield, son-in-law of Henry Souders, the tinsmith. In 1908 B. Cohen and his wife Vera lived here and Mr. Cohen ran a jewelry and optician business; Philip Cohen also worked here as a watchmaker. A 1929 ad in teh Allentown Leader identifes 429 Front here as the business of Edward J. Rogers, Undertaker. The 1914 directory lists Raymond B. Van Etten and his family living here and operating a tailor business on the premises. Samuel A. Roth operated a barber shop here at 429 Front St for 33 years in the early 1900’s . He moved to 213 Bridge St in the mid 1900’s.
Address: 427-429 Front St
Name: Ben Franklin 5&10/Qi Spa
The original “5 and 10 cent” store was established in 1910 by A. J. Etheridge and Co in a leased space of the Jr. O. U. A. M. Building. James S. Quick took over the business in 1935, and expanded it, moving it to these larger, newly remodeled digs at 427-429 Front St in 1950 as the Ben Franklin “5 and 10”. Mrs. Evelyn took over the business there later and made it a self service store. At the time, there were 1500 Ben Franklin “5 and 10” stores, all locally owned and operated, receiving their stock from the Butler Brothers distribution house.
Address: 431-435 Front St – Swartz Building (pre-bank)
Before the bank was built here, the Swartz building was located here at the SE corner of Front & Bridge.
In 1891, 431 Front was the location of the Post Office. Edmund Randall, postmaster, lived on the premises (with his wife Maria) and was also editor of the Catasauqua Dispatch. By 1913, the Randall family had moved to Walnut St. Also Jos Matchette had his office in the building; he was an agent for Atlantic Dynamite. In 1902, Charles Graffin was the postmaster here. In 1885, 431 Front also apprears to have housed the office for the Lutheran Church; Rev Charles S. Koehler had his office here, though he lived on the 100 block of Front. In 1890 Adams Express operated out of the Swartz Building. The 1885 business directory lists Thomas Emanuel operating a contractor business out of the Swatrtz bulding ((then 441 Front St); Emanuel then lived on Pine in what is now the Catasauqua Club. The 1891 Sanborn map also shows a “boots & shoes” buisness here run by Benjamin Walp and a barber shop on the second floor.
The Swartz Building, on the left in the photo, was razed in to make room for the new bank which was dedicated in 1910.
Before construction of the bank, and even while the bank was under construction (1908), Bachman ran a cigar and tobacco business at 435 Front.
Address: 431 Front St – Corner of Front & Bridge
Name: Beidel’s Jewelry
Year built: 1906 -1910
Built by: W. R. Glace
Beitel, who was President of the bank in 1910, moved his jewelry story to a space on the first floor of the bank at 431 Front Street side where it remained until 1951.
In 1930 Attorney Clinton T. Snyder had an office at 433 Front. He and his wife Miriam K lived at 533 Walnut.
Address: 101 Bridge St – corner of Front & Bridge
Name: Lehigh National Bank
Year built: 1906
Built by: W. R. Glace
Initially at 423 Front St in a building owned by W. R. Glace, then president of the bank, this parcel of land was purchased in 1905 and the bank opened here 1910. The bank operated here until 1950. In 1955, the The Lehigh National Bank merged with the National Bank.of Catasauqua. After the bank ceased operation, the building was purchased by the Fuller Company, which used it for its engineering department. In the 80’s, it was bought and renovated into private offices on the first and second floors by the law firm of Weaver, Mosebach and Piosa. In 1991 it became the home and business of Dave and Ming-Ming Maloney who live on the second floor and operate LV Oriental Medicine Center on the first floor and Qi Spa in the adjacent space.
A new clock was recently added to replace the one present many years ago.
Other Site History:
Dr. J. Edward Rehrig opened a dental practice here in 1909, moving to the Edgar Building (527 Front) for a time before coming back in 1916; he left town by 1920. Dr. McKee had a dental practice here in 1920-1. From 1919-1930, Clinton T. Snyder, Esq practiced law from an office in the bank building, before becoming solicitor and later tax collector.
Before the bank was built here, the Swartz building was located here at the SE corner of Front & Bridge. In 1890 Adams Express operated out of the Swartz Building. In 1889-1907 the post office moved into the Swartz Building. The Swartz Building, on the left in the photo, was razed in to make room for the new bank in 1910.
Next to Swartz’s building was Souder’s Tin shop which may also have been razed.
West Side of Front at Bridge St: 440 Front St
Most people can remember the red brick building that stood where Bridge St meets Front on the west side. The building was razed in 2016 to make way for the new municipal building. This historic building was the locomotive house for the maintenance of Crane Iron’s engines.
The building housed a roller skating rink in the 1930-40s, at one point run by Ray Shoemaker. The building had a wooden floor and you could book the rink for parties. Bill Albert remembered not only skating here, but rollerskating to school at St Mary’s. Even before the locomotive house was built, Isaac Chandler, brother-in-law of John Fritz and a partner in the Union Foundry on the corner of Front and Pine, set up a blacksmith shop here that would have been just NW of the locomotive house.
In the 50’s, the building was converted into a garment factory by Pennsylania Dress Co of Northampton. They relocated here late 1950 and shortly reorganized as Hampton Frocks, then Cydell Fashions (Nov 1950). Cydell Fashions operated here through August of 1957, surviving a fire in 1954. In 1959. The dress factory reopened as C&F Manufacturing, which endured until 1975. In 1976, MV Fashions opened here with its main office in Northampton; the name changed to Dorell Fashions. By 1984, Dorell Fashions was operating again (still?) here on Front St, at least into 1985. The building changed hands in 1985, and in 1995, it became a sort of thrift store.
The beams from this historic building were used to make the paneling in the new municipal building.