Front Street Between Race and Union

Front St Between Race and Union
Address: 2 Front St – NW corner of Front and Race
Name: American Hotel /Devon House/Silver Manor
Year built: 1852

Built by Solomon Biery, this was one of the early hotels built after the opening of the Crane Iron Co. The Biery family operated the business until 1870. Afterwards, ownership changed hands many times. Modernized in 1889 to include electric, Richard Daniel was the hostelier in 1890. One owner of note was John C. Rehrig who came to Catasauqua from Mauch Chunk, and worked for the CNJ RR for 25 years before running the hotel for 7 years. His son, Dr. J. Edward Rehrig, opened a dental practice in Catasauqua in 1909. Joseph S. Hutter ran the hotel in 1930. In 1941, Stephen Bendekowitz acquired the business and upon his death his two sons, Louis and John took over.

Tony Imhoff, a local historian (deceased), recalled that a sheet would be hung on the north side of the building such that movies could be projected for viewing. There was a Barber shop here for many years; the entrance for it was off of Front St. There was also a bar on the first level. Before automobiles, there were stables and a wagon shed north of the hotel, where the parking lot is today. 2 Front St was most recently operated as a personal care residence. The business closed temporarily in 2013 after a fire damaged the upper levels. It is currently being converted back into extended stay rooms.

Address: 1-3 Front St – NE corner of Front & Race
Name: United States Hotel/Romich Building/August Hohl’s/Tameler’s Restaurant
Year built: 1850
Built by: Jonas Biery

The picture of Race St looking east shows a trolley heading east, and on the left, the Biery House, the American Hotel (now Silver Manor), and the United States Hotel on the corner of Front and Race (Tameler’s, at the time the photo was taken). The United States Hotel was one of many establishments built by the Biery family, this one by Jonas Biery, across the street from where his brother Solomon Biery would build the much larger American House two years later. It soon became the hotel, store and dwelling of William Gross. In 1856, Abraham F. Koons and Clinton Breinig ran a merchantile business here.

In 1860, the building passed into the hands of Owen Romich who ran a dry goods business here. He lived on the premises (3 Front St) and was assisted by his son. Romich also He also ran Romich’s Flour Mill in Whitehall. Romig was still at 3 Front St in 1885. Owen was the grandson son of Peter Romich: Peter (1769-1844, Northampton county, Macungie township) was married to a Butz and they had two· sons: Peter and John. The former, recognized as a man of more than ordinary intelligence and of marked ability, served one term as commissioner of Lehigh county. He married Miss Salome Vienner, and they became the parents of twelve children: Owen, Reuben, Charles, Alfred, Samuel, James, Edmond, Mary, Catherine, Phiana, Serena and Amanda. Owen’s brother Samuel was the town’s first barber: he died prior to 1857.

The first doctor in Catasauqua was William J. Romig of Allentown, who resided in the lower part of Front St and practiced his profession as a homoeopathic physician for eight or ten years, at which time he returned to Allentown. William J. Romig was the son of Owen’s uncle John.

For a time Benjamin Walp had a cobbler’s bench in the Romich Building, though he eventually moved to a shop on Second St near Bridge St.


In 1906 August Hohl purchased the building (from McKeever), relocating his bottling house and wholesale operation here from Second & Race. He and his wife Kate also lived here. Anyone who collects Catty memorabilia or bottles has probably run across an bottle from August Hohl’s. Porter Lodge No. 284, constituted in 1854 and named after Brother James Madison Porter, District Deputy Grand Master of Easton, originally met in Gross Hall, inside the United States Hotel building on the second floor. There were many private men’s clubs in the early days which had meeting rooms on the upper levels of commercial buildings. The Lodge continued to meet in Gross Hall for fourteen years and one month, until February 14, 1868, when it moved to the third floor of the Fuller building at Front and Church streets for a period of twenty-four years from 1868 to 1892. In 1892, the Porter Lodge moved to a new hall at 513 Front Street above Bridge Street, where it remained for 85 years. In May of 1975 the Lodge purchased the Charotin Social Hall building in North Catasauqua and has met there since October 1977.

Later Occupants:
The bar passed through other hands and ventures, housing a grocery store, etc. before being converted to Tameler’s Restaurant, run by Samuel Tameler until 1949. David Briggs and his daughter and son-in-law purchased the business in 1950 and ran it as Dave’s Café. Bobby Nicklas ran it as Nick’s, renting the building from Tameler in the 60’s. It is now rental units.

Address: 5 Front St, Name: Joseph Geiger Barber Shop

The 1885 Sanborn map shows a boots and shoes business at 5 Front St, the business belonging to Charles M. Sigley, who lived at 14 Second St (then, 10 Second St). Geiger’s barber shop operated out of 5 Front St before WWII, then moved to 11 Second St after WWII. During the war, Geiger worked as a steelworker.
Before that, the building housed other retail operations, as shown in an ad from an early dance program.


Address: 11 Front St (previously 19 Front)
Name: Carriage Factory

11 Front was the business address for the carriage factory to the rear of 5 & 11 Front St, abutting Limestone St. In the late 1870s, Aaron Snyder operated a butcher shop at Front and Race, possibly in this building. On the 1885 Sanborn map, S. M. Snyder Carriage Factory was shown here, though by 1896, it was listed as “vacant”. In the 1885 & 1887 business directories, this was listed as the office of Lewis Bartholomew a carriage builder; Bartholomew lived at 17 Front St. In 1885, Walker & Steitz were also listed as carriage builders at this address.

Address: 13 Front St (previously 21 Front St)
Name: Bloss family

In 1885, this was the home of Lewis, Sherman and William F. Bloss, all blacksmiths, and Isabela Bloss. By 1887, Sherman and William F. moved with Lewis to 725 Second St (then, 625 Second). By 1890, Lewis had married (remarried?) and he and his wife Ellen and William F. lived on Walnut St above Fourth.

Address: 15 Front St
15 Front was the home of William Kise, a carpenter, in 1885.

Address: 17 Front St
Name: R. C. Buss/Lewis & Susan Bartholomew/Alfred & Annie Sterner

Lewis (carriage maker next door) Susan, and Lizzie Bartholomew lived at 17 Front (previously 25 Front). Lizzie was a clerk at the PO. In 1890, Lewis lived here with his wife Hannah. The 1929/1930 directory identifies this as the home of Alfred and Annie Sterner. Alfred Sterner was the milk man who started distributing milk in 1887.

The invoice to the left, dated 1876, was recently found among the Crane Iron ledgers showing that 25 Front (now 17 Front) was once the business address of R. C. Buss, dealer in horse supplies.

Address: 19 Front St
Henry J & Amanda Eckensberger lived at 19 Front St circa 1885-1890. According to the 1914 history, Henry began house painting and paper hanging intown in the late 1850s. He was the first to introduce Lewis’s whitelead to the town (bummer). While painting at a window in the house of Solomon Biery at the corner of Front & Union, he was so stirred into patriotism by a squad of newly mustered soldiers marching by in response to Pres. Lincoln’s call, that he climbed down from the scaffold and joined the rinks fo the “Boys in Blue”. He resumed his trade as a house and sign painter after he returnded home. In 1914, he employed six men. His son Harry F, followed his father into the business, striking out on his own in 1885.

Address: 18 Front St
In the late 1800s, there was a marble dealer, William A. Borger, at 18 Front St (then 26 Front). William A. Borger lived here with his wife Louisa. After 1900, the building was used as a garage.

Address: 23, 27 Front St
Name: Dr. Reigel Home & Office
Year built: circa 1869
Built by: Dr. Henry H. Riegel

Dr. Henry H. Riegel and his son, Dr. Willian A. Riegel, practiced medicine here for ~70 years .
Before building the big house & office, Dr. Riegel lived in and practiced out of 23 Front St. Even after construction, he may have continued to live at 23 for a time, using the upstairs rooms at 27 Front for patients, as 23 was listed as his residence in the 1885 directory. However, by 1890, 23 Front was the home of Sylvester and Emma Harte. Mr. Harte was the express agent for Western Union Telegraph Co.

Dr Riegel was born in Allentown and studied medicine at Univ of Penn and Jefferson Medical College. His father was sheriff of Northampton County. He practiced elsewhere for 12 years before locating to Catasauqua. He was appointed Pension Examiner under President Harrison, was medical examiner for a number of insurance companies, served on the board of the National Bank of Catasauqua, and was president of the school board during the construction of the Lincoln School, and Burgess from 1909-1914.

Another son of Dr Henry H. Riegel, Clifford H., married Amanda Younger, daughter of William Younger who owned the Catasauqua Mills. In the 1885 directory, Clifford was listed as a machinist, living at 27. Henry was married to Ella Gish of Berlinsville. They had five children. Ella passed away in 1900; Henry in 1915.

Architectural Notes:
A handsome brick Victorian Italianate with a two story carriage house in the rear. The house features many arched door frames and pocket doors. The rear room on the first floor, which was the doctor’s office, still features original walnut and pine bookcases, safe, marble washstand, and parlor stove. The smaller home, 23 Front St, at 1000sqft, was typical of worker homes of the time. The front room was for gathering. The current dining room would have been the kitchen/bathing area. The second floor had two bedrooms, and there would have been an outhouse out back. The kitchen and indoor bath were built into the outside back porch in the 1950’s. The original Carriage House in the rear has been converted into two apartments and storage.

Address: 26 Front St
Year built: 1830

The vintage photo documents that this property was the home of W. A. Borger who served as Burgess of Catasauqua from 1892-1893. In 1930, this was the home of Martha Kean, widow of Thomas Kean, and her three sons, Burton, Joseph and Thomas Jr. Thomas W. Kean was a partner in, and Sec-Treas of,the Pickup and Kean Dye Works of Allentown, which dyed cotton yarns for hosiery, silk, and velvet. All three sons were likely employed there. H. H. Riegel was President of the dye company.

Address: 28-30, 40 Front St
Name: C. F. Beck
Name: Beck Residences
Year built: 1860

Charles F. Beck came to Catasauqua in 1854 from Nazareth after running a merchantile business there, and ran the American Hotel here for 9 years. In that same year, he married Catherine, daughter of Solomon Biery and owner of the hotel. In 1864, he formed a partenrship with Frederick, creating the Frederick & Beck Car Co, making railroad cars – this business later became part of the McKee, Fuller Co. He was also a traveling salesman for Allen, Son & Co of Philadelphia (oil and lamp fixtures). The lot and building at 26 Front St belonged to Charles F. Beck in the 1870s, as did 30 and 40 Front St. Also living here was his son David, listed as a clerk in his father’s business. In 1885, 40 Front St was the home of the Millers: Jacob (retired), Ida, and Carrie. Jacob Miller was listed as one the early citizens and land owners in Catasauqua, as per the 1853 tax records and also an early contributor to the building fund for the Presbyterian Church at Second & Pine.

His son Franklin C. Beck first learned the trade of machinist, then worked as a clerk at businesses in Allentown and Bethlehem before opening a general merchandise business a block up the street. He ran the store from 1884-1889 then ran the Catasauqua News Agency until 1908. Frank’s brother David started a plumbing business, and Frank later took it over, forming a partnership as Beck & Frey, plumbers, gas and steam fitters; the business operated out of 109 Front, then moved to Pine St. Frank married in 1886 and he and his family lived at 28 Front. In 1930, 30 Front was the home of George F. Beck, who taught music here.
Early numbering for these homes was 38-40 Front St.

Address: 31 Front St
Name: Allen S. & Louisa Storm Heckman

In 1885, 31 Front St (then 45 Front) was the home of Allen and Louisa Heckman, daughter of Philip and Catherine Storm (pre-dated the Crane). In 1885, Allen was listed in the business directory as being a “Carter”, likely providing cart transportation for those hauling iron ore from local fields to the Crane, or being availalbe to drive carts to/from the Crane and local mine sites. In 1891, he was listed as a blacksmith. Heckman was also a director of the Catasuqua Building and Loan Association and a charter member of the local Masonic Royal Arch Chapter No 278 formed in 1894.

Address: 33 Front St
Name: Bachman

In 1885, 33 Front St (then 47 Front) was the home of the Bachman family who moved here in 1882 from a farm in Lehigh Township – they only lived here a short time before Edwin J. and Priscilla (Steward) Bachman moved to 2nd and Strawberry. They had 11 children Edwin was in the hauling and general contracting business in Catasauqua in addition to having a stone quarry and coal yard. Whenthey first moved here, the oldest son Ammon, started as a moulder, but in 1908, established the Star Electirc Company at Front & Cherry. The next oldest son, William G., started as a laborer, but later became a painter and paper hanger. Son David first trained as a machinist at the Davies & Thomas Foundry, later worked for various machine shops in the valley, and ended as a superintendent at Lehigh Car, Wheel and Axle Co. Son Reuben followed a similar path as his brother David, starting as a mechanic at Allentown Wire, then moving to Bethlehem Steel, and later becoming a supervisor at Lehigh Car, Wheel and Axle Co. Son Alvin also started as a machinist, later becoming associated with Mack Bros in charge of their erection crews. Daughter Susan became a school teacher in Fullerton. More information on the Bachman family can be found in History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Its Families, Volume 2, beginning on page 29.

Address: 37 Front St – SE Corner of Front & Union
Name: George Frederick
Year built: c. 1853
Built by: George Frederick or Solomon Biery

George Frederick was born in Lower Saucon Township in 1788. His daughter, Mary Magdelena, married Solomon Biery of Catasauqua. George and his family moved to the area from Bucks County in 1828 and occupied a farm and stone house* on the west side of the river. He was elected Justice of the Peace for North and South Whitehall Townships in 1834 and was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1836. Upon retiring from the legislature, he moved to Biery’s Port (his oldest son George took over the farm on the west bank). He served as justice of the Peace here from 1853-1855, 1887-1863 and died in 1871. The house at the corner of Union and Front passed to his second son, Thomas.
His son Thomas Frederick went into business with C. F. Beck (son-in-law of Solomon Biery, who lived across the street from the Frederick house@ 40 Front) in the Frederick and Beck Car Co in Fullerton, later Frederick & Co. Thomas also helped form the National bank of Catasauqua, and its first place of business was in this residence in 1857: the following year the bank purchased property up Front St and built the a bank there, where it operated until 1903.

George’s third son Owen learned the cabinet and coffin trade in Easton and became an undertaker here (Frederick & Scherer). In addition to making coffins, he ran a high end furniture business on Front St until his early death in 1878. Owen’s daughter Mrs. Mary Alice Steward and his son Ogden took over their father’s businesses. Ogden married Clara C. Fuller and also ran the Fuller book store for a time. Ogden also started his own undertaking business, Frederick and Scherer in 1897, and was a partner in the Central Silk Manuf Co of Seigfried, started in 1905. Ogden and Clara had one daughter, Tillie, who married Dr. Wesley Willoughby, who had a dental office in the National Bank Building on Front St, and later opened an office at 125 Bridge St.
George’s first son George (who took over the farm) and his wife died early, leaving a young son, Tilghman, who was then raised by his aunt and uncle, Solomon & Mary Magdalena Biery . Tilghman joined the 176thRegiment of Pennsylvania Drafted Militia early in the Civil War, and then became a clerk in the Frederick and Beck Car Construction Works. He studied to become an accountant, trained as a machinist at the Crane Iron Works, apprenticed at the Catasauqua Manufacturing Co, then began work at the Bryden Horseshoe Co when it opened, becoming superintendent there in 1882. He was a prime mover in creating the Pine Street Bridge, served on town council, was a fireman with the Phoenix Fire Co, where he also served as President, and for 45 years was superintendent/clerk/teacher of the Sunday School at St. Paul’s. The only address given for Tilghman and Mary Frederick is the address of the Bryden in the 1880 directory, so it is not known where they lived.

*The stone house occupied by George Frederick across the river was one of the earliest structures in Lehigh County. Built in 1757 by Jacob Yundt, it was known then as “The Fort”, as it became a refuge for area farmers during Indian raids. George Frederick (the son) owned it until 1855, when he sold it to Asa Packer in conjunction with construction of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. It was razed in 1892 and the stone was used as fill when constructing the approach for the iron county bridge which replaced the wooden Biery’s Bridge. When the bridge was replaced, the stone was salvaged by HCPA .

Front St was laid out in 1841 to make travel easier to and from the iron works. It was initially graded with cinders, and on early deeds is referred to as Cinder Alley. This area was a busy business district once the Crane Iron went into operation with the street lined with homes and businesses. The street was graded in 1853, but not paved until 1912. This was the main business district up until 1900, at which time it shifted to Bridge St.

Address: 104 Front St – NW corner of Front & Union
Name: Hammersly/Imhoff house
Built by: R. Clay Hammersly

Hammersly came to Catasauqua in the 1850s as a teacher in the Grammar School and became principal at the high school from 1863-1865. He served borough Solicitor and Justice of the Peace for the Second Ward (1865-1895), and during these years he became prominent and took a leading role in Catasauqua affairs. He was an original member of the Fairview Cemetery Association and a member of the school board for 7 years beginning in 1866. He was a Notary Public and did extensive business in life and fire insurance. He was married to Anne M. Welty of Gettysburg and they had three children, Dr. Wm Hammersly of Philadelphia, Alice, a trained nurse, and another daughter Annie, who lived at home at the time of his death (1898).

Born in Dillsburg, York County, PA, he graduated from Gettysburg College. After teaching for several years in his native county, he moved to Allentown where he taught school. While teaching there, he registered as a law student with James S. Reese, being subsequently admitted to the bar with Capt. A. B. Swartz.

Other Occupants:
More recently, this was the childhood home of Tony Imhoff, a local historian whose collection of pictures left to HCPA contributed greatly to this and other histories of Catasauqua. Imhoff also ran a heating and refrigeration business out of his home beginning in 1949. He graduated from CHS in 1935 and attended the Refrigeration and Engineering Institute in Youngstown, OH. He worked for others until joining the Navy in WWII. Afterward, he worked for the General Machine Co in Emmaus before starting his own business.

Return To Front Street Main Page