Centre Square

 

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Centre Square: Easton was founded in 1752 by Thomas Penn (son of William Penn, the great proprietor of the Pennsylvania colony). Penn had his agent and surveyor, William Parsons, design the town as a grid of streets around a "Great Square" to be formed at the town center. The new town was named "Easton" after the English estate of Easton-Neston in Northamptonshire, owned by Thomas Penn's father-in-law, Lord Pomfret. One of the first things constructed when the town was founded was likely the pillory and whipping post, which were located at the southern end of the "Great Square". Their use was legally abolished in 1790. Just two years after Easton was founded, the French and Indian War began near modern-day Pittsburgh. Indian attacks swept the Pennsylvania frontier. Beginning in 1756, a series of treaty conferences were held by the Governor of Pennsylvania and the various Indian tribes, culminating in the Treaty of Easton of 1758. The treaty negotiations were conducted in the Easton "Great Square"....see more details on centre square.

this photo is with permission from Leonard Buscemi Sr whose book with Marie & Frank Summa, Historic Easton is available at Barnes&Noble:

Looking south, east side - Easton's courthouse used to be in center square, and on left is the corner of 3rd & northampton where Mayer building now stands (below - photo by Richard Hope).

SouthEast Quadrant of Centre Square  
1 Centre Square: Mayer Building - This building, which now houses the Merchant's National Bank and other storefronts, was formerly Jacob Mayer on the Square. The name "Mayer" can still be seen on the corner of the building. Jacob ("Jakey" ) Meyer started as an itinerant back peddler. He opened a clothing store at Sitgreaves and Northampton Streets in 1894, but in 1898 moved into 1 Centre Square. He thereafter acquired numbers 3 and 5 Centre Square, and added them to his establishment. His Centre Square store became one of Easton's finest men's clothing establishments. An old Easton children's rhyme sang: "Jacob Mayer on the Square, he wore woolly underwear!" ...see more detail on 1 centre square.
  8 Centre Square: Easton Dollar Savings & Trust Co. Bldg - currently for sale! The Easton Dollar Savings & Trust Co. building was built in 1922. The bank agreed to a liquidation plan in 1932, during the Great Depression. Its assets were acquired by The Easton Trust Company (see entry for Wachovia Bank, below). In approximately 1940, The Circlon, one of Easton's most fashionable restaurants, was established in this building. Its co-owners were Neal H. Rumbaugh (ultimately the owner of the Hotel Easton) and William K. Rusk, Manager of the Pomfret Club. The Circlon continued in business there until approximately 1971...see more detail on 8 centre square.
11 Centre Square: Pearly Bakers Alehouse Building - In 1792, the "fire-proof" Northampton County Records Building was built on this site, convenient to the Courthouse located in Centre Square. It was torn down in 1868, a few years after the new Courthouse was built on Walnut Street. The current building, known at one time as the Seitz Building, was erected in 1869, together with a continuation over the property next door, now Josie's Deli). This double building served as the YMCA headquarters in Easton from 1899 until 1922. The gymnasium wooden floor is still very apparent in the modern first story bar and restaurant....see more detail on 11 centre square.
  14 Centre Square: Josie's NY Deli Building - Like Pearly Baker's next door (see above), this site was also part of the location of the Northampton County Records Building when the Courthouse was located in Centre Square. The Records Building was torn down in 1868, and replaced by a double building on the site in 1869 ...see more detail on 14 centre square.
16 Center Square / 6 so. Third street: The Plaza, or Wells Fargo Bank Building - Wells Fargo is the successor to The Easton Bank (later Easton National Bank), and The Easton Trust Company and then Wachovia Bank. Currently for sale, the modern building includes mosaic plaques on both the Centre Square and Third Street sides, showing cameos of famous Easton historical figures. In approximately 1800, the present bank's location was occupied by Easton's first bank, a branch of the Pennsylvania Bank. It occupied a stone building built on the corner by Jacob Arndt in 1790. It continued in operation until 1845, when it was closed; but it did not issue its own notes, and no federal currency was available. The corner property became the home (with an adjoining office) of Easton attorney Andrew H. Reeder, who later moved his residence to Northampton St. and his law offices to the building next door, the "Reeder Building" on S. Third St. The need for bank notes led to the opening of The Easton Bank in June 1814, the 6th bank in Pennsylvania, and the only one of its kind within a 60 mile radius. Christian Bixler III (see Bixler's Jewelers, below) was among the charter petitioners, and Easton notable Samuel Sitgreaves was the first President....see more detail on 16 center square.
*this building is offered for sale & we are currently leasing spaces
  SouthWest Quadrant of Centre Square
  1 so. Third street: Alpha Building - This building occupies two adjacent lots, beginning at the corner with South Third Street. In the 18th Century, the corner lot was the shop of clock-maker Moritz Bishoff. Bishoff moved his store and sold the property to Henry Bush, who built a stone hotel. After Bush's death, this hotel was run for many years by his widow, and became known as the Widow Bush's Hotel. The hotel was demolished in 1869, and replaced with a brick building known as the Porter Building. The adjacent lot on Centre Square (to the west) was also originally a hotel - one of the first licensed in the county. It was owned by William Craig (Easton's first elected Sheriff ) and his partner. Craig was a staunch supporters of the Penn interests who created the town of Easton, and Craig was issued the first liquor license at the very first session of the Northampton County court. However, competition could not be excluded forever, no matter how politically well-connected Mr. Craig might have been. Nathaniel Vernon - who was already running the Delaware River ferry in Easton and keeping an inn - obtained a proper liquor license a few months later. Probably as a result, Craig's Hotel was ultimately transformed into a store...see more detail on 1 so. Third street.
24 Centre Square: Bixlers Jewlers Building - Bixler's is advertised as the oldest jewelry store in America, and is still family-owned. In 1785 Christian Bixler III opened a store selling grandfather clocks, in the family homestead at the NE corner of Bank and Northampton Streets (now 321 Northampton Street), and shortly thereafter began selling jewelry as well. Bixler made some 465 grandfather clocks, which (when in good condition) are expensive collector's items today. Bixler's Jewelers was located at various addresses on Northampton Street over time....see more detail on 24 centre square.
30 Centre Square: Two Rivers Landing - A centerpiece of the attempted modernization of downtown Easton, the Two Rivers Landing building was opened on 1995. It is the home to the Crayola Experience (opened 16 July 1996 and completely renovated, May 2013), which hosts approx. 4 million visitors/yr. Two Rivers Landing also houses the downtown exhibits of the National Canal Museum. This parcel was previously the site of Farr's shoe store and Orr's Department Store...see more detail on 24 centre square.  
  NorthWest Quadrant of Centre Square
  301 Northampton street: Bush & Bull Building - Originally, this corner was the home of Henry Allshouse, Easton's first carpenter who spent the first winter of 1752-53 in town. In the early 1870s, the Bush & Bull Department Store opened on Northampton Street, founded by Solomon Bush (Vice-President of First National Bank & Trust Company) and James V. Bull (President, Easton National Bank). It ultimately expanded to take over this corner lot as well. It became one of Easton's premier stores in the 1890s to the early 20th Century, with some 35 complete departments, as well as branch stores in other cities....see more detail on 24 centre square.
44-45 Centre Square: Steele Building - Built in approximately 1910, this building was named the Steele Building by the 1920s for its owner Henry J. Steele - an Easton attorney and President of the Northampton Trust Company. " Steele was a well-known Easton lawyer. As City Solicitor he successfully argued against the Penn Family reacquiring Centre Square after it ceased to be used for the County Courthouse....see more detail on 24 centre square.  
  48 and 50 Centre Square: Clockmakers Property Building - These two property lots, and a stone shop at this location, were originally owned by Moritz Bishoff, a clockmaker. Bishoff is apparently the same person who owned one of the properties underlying the Alpha Building, on the other side of Centre Square (see above). In 1776, Bishoff's widow sold the property to Christian Winters, another clockmaker....see more detail on 24 centre square.
52 Centre Square: Detwiller House - In 1771, this property was occupied by John Spering. In 1778, in the midst of the American Revolution, Mr. Spering abandoned his wife and four children to restore his allegiance to his King, and sailed for England. His property was confiscated by the Revolutionary government, destroying the family's financial security. Two of his daughters were indentured as servants, one to Jacob Arndt (who later built a house across Third Street, see below). ...see more detail on 24 centre square.
  NorthEast Quadrant of Centre Square
5 no. Third street: Hotel Huntington Building - The Hotel Huntington at the corner of North Third Street and Centre Square was opened in 1903, and was renovated and substantially expanded in 1910 by Architect William Michler. It now serves as an apartment building. The Hotel occupies property that John Stillwagon purchased from the Penn Family in 1760....see more detail on 24 centre square.
60 Centre Square: Seip Building - "Chippy" White erected this Annex to his hotel (see entry for Huntington Hotel, above) in approximately 1820, on the site of an older inn that White had received in approximately 1810 from his in-laws, Arnold and Margaret Everhardt. . Everhardt's Tap House had been well-known in its day for sober entertainment, an exclusive clientele, quality liquor, and in particular a secret drink known as "Everhardt's Mead"...see more detail on 24 centre square.  
62-66 Centre Square: Old Post Office Building - On the afternoon of 17 October 2006, a fire damaged the Old Post Office Building in Easton. The resulting press coverage illustrates well the contradictory authorities that so often confuse the study of the history of Easton buildings. THE EXPRESS-TIMES, an Easton newspaper, reported that the building had been built in 1828 by Colonel Peter Ihrie, a prominent Easton lawyer who served two terms in the US Congress from 1829-33. By contrast, THE MORNING CALL, an Allentown newspaper, related a statement by Easton's Mayor dating the building to before the Revolutionary War, and naming it the third-oldest building in the city....see more detail on 24 centre square.
245-51 Northampton street: Valenca Building - This building was the home of the Easton Sweet Shop diner beginning in approximately 1916, and has recently been totally renovated into beautiful Valenca restaurant. Prior to the Sweet Shop, in approximately 1906 this building had been the home of the Montague Book Store. Mongatue later moved down to 237 Northampton Street (the Montague Building, formerly "Sitgreaves Folly") ...see more detail on 24 centre square.  

this site is brought to you by local historian Ricard F Hope, and local realtor Ellen Shaughnessy - realSellen.com, for local real estate.