Preservation Williamsport
Dedicated to preserving and protecting Williamsport’s architectural heritage

Preservation Williamsport
Board of Directors

Edward Lyon, Jr., Chairman
Oscar Knade, Vice Chairman
Kathryn Nassberg, Treasurer
Shirley Knade, Secretary
Anthony H. Visco, Jr.

Robert Elion, Esq.
Allen E. Ertel, Esq.
Robert Kane, Jr.

Barbara Lamade
Eiderson Dean
Dr. John Piper
Marcia Miele
Gloria Miele
Nan Young

In recent years the Millionaires Row Historic District has seen a significant increase in the interest to preserve and restore this historically sensitive area. Large amounts of private money have been invested in returning "boarding houses" to private residences and special emphasis has been placed upon enhancing and improving student housing in the area.

With the expansion of Pennsylvania College of Technology, the Maynard Street corridor, the Streetscape Project and the new Transportation Museum as well as the Durrwachter House Museum, the surrounding neighborhoods are benefiting as the area transitions into a tourist destination.

The mission of Preservation Williamsport is to restore and preserve Williamsport’s rich architectural heritage, and to educate the public about the importance of preservation. The acquisition of the Rowley House was a natural adjunct.

Historic preservation provides a community with a sense of place, connecting people to their neighbors and their past. With the addition of the Rowley House Museum visitors to the area will be able to discover not only names and street addresses of the industrious generations who came before us but they will now be able to experience first hand how these millionaires lived and worked. They may view an authentic and vivid time slot of history, with original amenities still intact nearly 120 years later.

Preservation of Williamsport Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 and incorporated in 1990 when a group of preservation-minded citizens saw the need for an organization dedicated to protecting Williamsport's rich, but endangered, historic heritage.

Victorian Christmas annually provides the hanging baskets in the summer and lighted wreaths in the winter that decorate the Victorian lamp posts in the Historic District.

In 2004, a board of 10 members formed to pursue the acquisition of the Rowley House. Officers were elected and funding sources were sought. With the help of grant money from the First Community Foundation, a large private donation from Allen and Kay Ertel, and various smaller donations, Preservation Williamsport was able to acquire the Rowley House. All avenues to secure funds to pay for the building and to perform repairs and restoration work are being targeted. A membership drive and various fundraisers are planned.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like additional information.

Preservation Williamsport
(Preservation of Williamsport Foundation, Inc.)
960 West Third Street
Williamsport, PA 17701
(570)323-8080 or 323-2144

E-mail: preservationwilliamsport@gmail.com


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Rowley House

The purpose of The Preservation of Williamsport Foundation, Inc. (Preservation Williamsport) is to discover and preserve the historic resources throughout the entire city of Williamsport. This includes, but is not limited to, the documentation and preservation of ethnic neighborhoods, structures of historical or architectural significance, and sites such as the Freedom Road Cemetery or the caves used by the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s. A secondary purpose is to assist and promote the preservation of historically/architecturally significant sites and structures in adjacent communities.

To that end, Preservation Williamsport operates primarily to educate the public. For example:

  • It publishes a newsletter three times a year offering information on current preservation efforts in the area, endangered structures, issues in preservation, tips on restoration, information on resources.
  • It assists homeowners in solving restoration problems through the expertise of its members and board of directors.
  • It provides an annual dinner meeting with guest speaker offering information relevant to current issues.
  • It encourages preservation and restoration by presenting an Annual Preservation Award recognizing individual or group efforts in restoration.
  • It provides tours and events to help to educate the public in general, such as past tours of Millionaires Row and an upcoming tour of the Wildwood Cemetery.
  • It organizes and sponsors lecture series and other programs in cooperation with other organizations in the area, such as a three-part series in 1991 held in cooperation with the Williamsport-Lycoming Arts Council and the Lycoming County Historical Society. This series was funded in part by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and included a slide lecture on Victorian decorative arts by David A. Hanks, a slide lecture on historic Williamsport by Samuel Dornsife, and a panel discussion on current issues in preservation which included such notables as Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Hylton, Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Officer Michel Lefevre, Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce President Peter Loedding and Professor of History Dr. Richard Webster (University of West Chester, Pennsylvania).
  • It organizes and presents an annual house hour through Millionaires Row (National Register Historic District).
  • It organizes and presents a Promenade during the Boom Festival in Williamsport, which allows people to not only view but participate in the customs of Williamsport’s Victorian society. Members dress in period costumes representative of all economic classes and join in the festival's activities. Members also sponsor or provide other cultural events such as “High Tea” or a performance by the Repasz Band, the oldest continuously organized band in the United States.
  • It organizes and presents an annual Victorian Ball. Prior to the evening's events, lessons in dances popular during the Victorian Age are given, and, during the night's activities, special dance demonstrations are presented.
  • It provides access to historical research materials. For example, the organization is in the process of reproducing 19th century Williamsport atlases and city directories for historical research access, which are to be donated to the local history research facilities of the J.V. Brown Library and the Lycoming County Historical Society.

Another goal of Preservation Williamsport is to preserve and restore. To that end, the organization provides supporting in the following ways:

  • Supplies funds to the City of Williamsport for restoration projects, such as reproduction and installation of period light fixtures along Millionaires Row.
  • Houses outside the historic district that are targeted for restoration, or in some cases demolition, are documented. In the case of demolition, important architectural ornamentation is removed for reuse in other restoration projects in Williamsport.
  • Acquires and restores historic structures. Proceeds from the sale or rent of restored structures will be used to acquire additional structures and continue the preservation process and to set up a revolving loan program for the benefit of homeowners wishing to restore a property.
  • Entrusts its board members to serve as consultants to other organized groups renovating older homes, such as Habitat for Humanity. PW promotes low cost preservation and adaptive reuse as opposed to gutting a building and complete renovation.
  • Interacts with other organizations. Board members serve as standing members of the Historical Architectural Committee of the City of Williamsport. To promote our purpose further, members interact with Lycoming County Historical Society, Williamsport-Lycoming Arts Council, Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, Williamsport-Lycoming Tourist Promotion Agency, Lycoming County Board of Realtors and the City of Williamsport Historic Architectural Review Board.
  • Documents historic structures. This project is underway, initially within the historic district, but eventually will expand to include the entire city. This survey includes inventory and photo documentation.
Preservation Williamsport is operated exclusively by volunteers throughout the community. All fundraising activities are organized by its volunteer board of directors and implemented with the assistance of other volunteers from its membership. PW has formed various committees to oversee its activities, including a fundraising committee, which is chaired by a member of the board. To date, PW has held an annual membership campaign and has solicited financial support for specific programs such as its Victorian Ball. This solicitation was mostly at the corporate level through sponsorships.

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Meet some of the people behind the Renaissance


Photo courtesy of Terry Wild

"I feel fortunate to own one of these homes. I dreamed of it when I was a little girl walking past on my way home from school." Rose has lived at 726 West Third Street for more than 30 years. It was built in 1888 by William Hart and is Simplified Queen Anne style.

Rose Rizzo


Photo courtesy of Terry Wild

"The thing I like about the Historic District is that the workmanship that was performed 130 years ago with hand tools is still surviving. It's a challenge to duplicate it even with today's modern tools. This is a heritage that needs to be preserved. But who's going to do my copper work?"

Nina & Eric Cheetham


Photo courtesy of Terry Wild

"I think these are the most interesting houses in the city. I'm glad to be a part of the neighborhood." This home was designed by Eber Culver for Hiram Rhodes. It is a Queen Anne style Victorian with porches, gables and a unique red slate roof.

Marcia Miele & Bob Elion


Photo courtesy of Terry Wild

"Why would anybody want to tear down these buildings? Where else would we find such a nice place to live? People need to respect our past." The Porter house, built in 1877, is Italianate style designed by Amos Wagner.

Zachary Porter, age 13
Debi, Jeff and Zachary Porter


Photo courtesy of Terry Wild

"One of my life's goals was to fix up one of the neglected houses in the Historic District. I can't afford to do a lot of the needed repairs all at once so I work on it a little at a time. The satisfaction of seeing the house become the "Jewel I knew it could be makes all the time, sweat and hard work worth it. I'm glad I live here!"

Diane Franklin


Photo courtesy of Terry Wild

"I just have one thing to say about the Historic District: I wouldn't want to live anyplace else." Sara-Ann Briggs ad Eric Tallman both lived in the renovated apartments at 918 West Fourth Street, built in the early 1870s for G. Bedell Moore in the Victorian Italianate style. The house features stunning stained glass and ornate wainscoting.

Sara-Ann Briggs

 

 

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