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Found in Collection

Found in Collection (284)

Thursday, 17 November 2016 20:16

A century ago in Bridgeport

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This afternoon as I was continuing on my long term project of scanning the Historical Society's photograph collection, I came across some of photographs of Brigdeport from around the turn of the 20th Century.  Although it wasn't incorporated until 1851, the earliest settlers arrived around 1723.

Most of the photographs I found were from the 1890's and early 1900's.  Like this excellent photograph of Bovcot's hotel, which looks like it was conveniently right on the train tracks:

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Here is the Union Avenue School, built in 1893.  It served as Bridgeports high school until 1923 when it continued as an elementary school.  It was demolished in 1951.

 

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R. J. Patton's Feed and Flour store at Fourth and Depot is listed in Montgomery County: The Second Hunderd Years as having existed from 1900 until 1905.

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In the late nineteenth, Italians began to settle in Bridgeport.  Marinelli's Grocery was in business from 1905 to 1931.  I love this picture because it shows the proprietor (Marinelli also owned a service station on DeKalb Pike). Notice the Thanksgiving advertisement in the window.

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Finally, I wanted to end with this wonderful picture of women hanging out on their stoops.  It gives such a fine sense of community.

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We'll be closed next Thursday for the holiday, so we might not get a new blog article out.  Enjoy the holiday everyone!

Thursday, 10 November 2016 14:56

Garibaldi's Row

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Do you recognize any of the children in this picture?  The picture captures what was known as "Garibaldi's Row" in Ambler in 1961, just before it was demolished.  Nineteen-sixty-one was quite significant in the demolition of residential structures and the West Chestnut Street properties associated with Keasby & Mattison Industries of Ambler.

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The above map is from a 1916 North Penn Railroad atlas and shows the area Keasby & Mattison developed.

The history of Keasby & Mattison with its Ambler residential development is a fascinating one dating back to the 1890's after the company relocated from Philadelphia.  The firm began with the manufacture of asbestos paper and mill board as insulation products, according to the book Early History of Ambler by Dr. Mary Hough.

According to various reports Dr. Richard V. Mattison, the partner of Henry J. Keasby, chose Ambler to develop what became the major asbestos product manufacturing company of the United Sates.  As the doctor expanded the Keasby & Mattison plant, experienced Italian stoneworkers and laborers were recruited and urged to settle and build in Ambler.  Thus, approximately 400 residence were built, including row homes for factory workers as well as more upscale homes for the managers and executives.  This development included Dr. Mattison's estate, known as Lindenwold, which was built in the 1890's and expanded in 1917.

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This photo shows Dr. Mattison's house Lindenwold.

It was during this building period that row homes such as "Garibaldi's Row" and West Chestnut area homes were constructed.  However, by 1961, due to serious health and social concerns and other deteriorating conditions in the neighborhood, the local government made the decision to tear down these structures.  The decision included the creation of a park and recreation area as a replacement.  Many saw this as a positive outcome as the neighborhood was described as a "blighted area" with poor sanitary facilities subject to flooding.outhouses

The row houses did not have plumbing, as shown by this photo of outhouses.

August 10, 1961 was targeted to resettle the effected families and subsequently demolish the homes.

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With this demolition, it seems many found and cherished memories of over seventy years has faded into the history of dear old Ambler.

Thursday, 03 November 2016 20:52

Baseball in Montgomery County

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Well, the longest championship drought is over, and the lovable losers of baseball are losers no more.  As we all say goodbye to the 2016 baseball season, I thought we might look back on some of Montgomery County's baseball history.

Now, you may already know that Hall of Famers Tommy LaSorta and Mike Piazza were born in Norristown, but today, we're going to look at some of the humbler players from Montgomery County.

The Norristown Base Ball and Athletic Association was founded in 1888.  This copy of the charter is in Miscellaneous Deed Book number 29.

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Two pages of charter members follow.  Here's one:

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Without a doubt baseball was a popular sport in Norristown.  The county's "grand old man" of baseball was Patrick "Paddy" McGee, who played in the Industrial League in Norristown for many years as a pitcher on the State Hospital team.  He also played in the Catholic League, the Bux-Mont League, and the Norristown City League. Later he started the Baseball School at Elmwood Park.  McGee was born in Easton, PA, but moved to Bridgeport when he was 12.  You can see him in this 1929 photograph of the Bridgeport baseball team.  He's the man stand in the thick cardigan (he was identified for us by longtime member James Brazel).  In addition to all the baseball playing he also had a day job as an insurance agent for 35 years and raised eleven children with his wife Elizabeth.

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Of course baseball as always been a popular sport for kids, and here's a great picture of the 1920 Norristown High School team.  I love this picture because the swagger and attitude of the players.  

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Was the attitude because they were winning?  Well, maybe not.  The 1920 season didn't get off to a good start.  They dropped their first two games, but won their third against Phoenixville.  The May issue of Spice (which in the 1920's was the school's literary magazine and not an annual yearbook) was devoted to sports.

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Inside, it features this student cartoon:

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Poor James Long!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 20:20

Nixon and the 1960 Presidential Election

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Last month, we received a donation of two objects from the 1960 Presidential Election. The first is a campaign ribbon with Richard Nixon’s likeness. The second object is sheet music for the Nixon campaign song, Click with Dick. Since the 2016 election is in full swing we thought it was an apt topic to share.

The election of 1960 was between two political figures from US history you might recognize, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Besides the famous (and notorious) presidential nominees, the election was groundbreaking for a number of other reasons. The election was one of the closest elections in the popular vote, it resulted in the first, and only, Catholic President, the first president born in the twentieth century, and reached more audiences with the first televised debates.

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