Bethlehem Area Public Library

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The aforementioned four farms, on which the Brethren cultivated principally grain, hemp and flax, were commonly spoken of as “The Fuehrer Farm," embracing the nearer portions of Fountain Hill and its northeastern descent to and including the old Crown Inn; "The Luckenbach Farm”, adjoining the former to the east and extending down the river; “The Jacobi Farm", which lay south of the latter along the sloping upland to the base of the mountain, from about either Walnut Street or the Five Points eastward far down into the heart of the town; “The Hoffert Farm”, stretching off to the southwest, over the farthest part of Fountain Hill, down to the Emmaus Road and up to the present hospital and Bishopthorpe Manor and beyond to the Fountain Hill Cemetery. The Hoffert farm house stood near the northwest corner of the present Seneca and Fiot Streets. The Fuehrer farm house was the Crown Inn. The Luckenbach farm house, near by, a little to the east, was replaced in 1849 by a brick house which now serves as a L.V.R.R. office building. The little stone house of the Jacobi farm was recently removed from the United States government lot, at the northeast corner of Fourth Street and Brodhead Avenue.

On the same day that Mr. Luckenbach acquired the four farms, he conveyed the entire Fuehrer farm to Daniel Desh, at the rate of $95 an acre; the Jacobi farm to Joseph Hess, at $80 an acre; and the entire Hoffert farm in parcels to Charles and Oliver Tombler and F.H. Oppelt, at from $70 to $80 an acre. In 1850 and 1851, the Tombler lands were sold to Daniel C. Freitag and Augustus Fiot, the latter a wealthy retired music publisher of Philadelphia. Mr. Fiot enlarged the house built by Mr. C.C. Tombler, beautified the grounds, and called the estate “Fontainebleau”. This property, together with the Freitag purchase, eventually came into the possession of Tinsley Jeter, who finally acquired the entire Hoffert farm, with the exception of what was held by Dr. Oppelt. On September 5, 1868, Fontainebleau was opened as a private school for girls, and its name changed to “Bishopthorpe”. After being closed during a few years, this school was reopened in 1908 as “Bishopthorpe Manor”.

The name, Fountain Hill, was first applied in 1866. In 1854, Daniel Desh sold the Fuehrer farm, now that portion of the Hill extending from the Union Station southwest to Seminole Street, to Rudolphus Kent, Charles Hacker, and Samuel R. Shipley, all of Philadelphia. Ten acres of this tract, including the site of the Crown Inn, were sold by the new owners, the same year, to the North Penna. R.R. Co. The rest of the land they laid out in town lots, substantially as it is now, Indian names and all. Shortly after, Robert H. Sayre, Chief Engineer for the L.V.R.R. Co., purchased the extensive grounds on which he erected the first house built on the Hill after it was laid off into streets. At that time, the only other buildings on the Hill were Fontainebleau, the Water Cure, and the Freitag house, the residence of the late Tinsley Jeter. The residence of William H. Sayre, southwest corner of Third and Wyandotte Streets, was erected in 1862; that of E.P. Wilbur, southwest corner of Wyandotte and Lehigh Streets, in 1864; that of John Smylie (now the property of Mrs. Samuel Adams), and that of Dr. Martin, were built about the same time as that of Mr. Wilbur. The Linderman property, now owned and occupied by Mr. Charles M. Schwab, was not built until 1870. In 1868, Mr. Jeter extended the town plot southwestward as far as the intersection of Delaware Avenue and the Emmaus Road.

Mr. Luckenbach retained the farm bearing his name, and in 1852 laid out a portion of it in a town plot, which he called Augusta. This was, really, time beginning of the subsequent town of South Bethlehem. It extended north and south from the present North Penna. R.R. tracks to the Lehigh River, and east and west from the present Northampton Avenue to Poplar Street. The first building lot sold in the new town was purchased by Levin C. Peysert, for $200. This lot, 40 by 176 feet, lies immediately west of the entrance to the New Street Bridge. The next year the first building operations within Augusta were undertaken by Borhek and Knauss, who erected three double frame houses.

It was about this time that this locality began its career as a manufacturing center, by the production of zinc products. In 1845, William T. Roepper, who, 21 years after, became Lehigh University’s first Professor of Mineralogy and Geology, discovered the presence of calamine and blende, ores of zinc, on the Ueberroth farm, in Friedensville. In 1853, in buildings erected on the Luckenbach farm, in Augusta, the first white zinc oxide was produced from these ores. These buildings were destroyed by fire the following December, but were immediately thereafter rebuilt. In 1855, Samuel Wetherhill, Superintendent of these works, succeeded, after long experimentation, in producing spelter, or metallic zinc. But Mr. Wetherill’s process proved too expensive to be practical. In the meantime, May 2,1855, The Penna. and Lehigh Zinc Co., whose corporate title was changed to the Lehigh Zinc Co. in 1860, was incorporated, with a capital of $1,000,000. In 1859, the then Superintendent, Joseph Wharton, contracted with a Belgian firm for the erection of smelting works, and imported three Belgian expert workers in that branch of the industry. One of these three Belgian experts was the late Andre Woot Detrixhe, father of our esteemed townsman, Arthur W. Detrixhe. These works were completed, at a cost of $85,000, and the first metallic zinc produced in them in July, 1859. In 1865, this Company extended its operations when the first sheet zinc produced in America was rolled at these works. In 1877, the Zinc Co. had over 700 names on its pay-rolls, annually consumed 40,000 tons of coal, and had buildings estimated to have cost in the aggregate $276,000. In 1881, these works were taken over by the Lehigh Zinc and Iron Co., which added to its other operations the manufacture of spiegeleisen. A few years ago these works were dismantled and the site is now occupied by the extension of the works of the Bethlehem Steel Co.



1915 views of South Bethlehem





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