The Berks County, Pennsylvania area is full of rich history. This history takes many forms, but at Eagle Construction in Blandon, PA, we have a keen eye for architecture and home design.
While we are always looking for modernity and technological advancements when building our many modern construction projects, we also have a great appreciation for our local community and the many historic homes that can be found here.
Courtesy of Eagle Construction, here are six historic homes in Berks County, Pennsylvania
The Conrad Weiser Homestead
This beautiful home located near Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania once housed Johann Conrad Weiser, who enlisted the Iroquois Native American tribe to fight alongside the British in the French and Indian War.
The Conrad Weiser Homestead was built in 1729 using native limestone. It has been expanded numerous times over the years, but does still include an original single room with a fireplace and bake oven, and a second room that Weiser himself added in 1750.
Currently, the home is administered as a historic house museum by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. It was established as a historic site in 1923 in order to preserve an example of a colonial homestead and to honor Weiser, an important figure in the settlement of the colonial frontier.
The Keim Homestead
The Keim Homestead is a historic farm located on Boyer Road in Pike Township, west of Lobachsville. It was originally built in 1753 for Jacob Keim and his wife, Magdalena Hoch, on land given to the couple by her father.
Jacob was the son of Johannes Keim, who immigrated from Germany way back in 1689 and scouted the Pennsylvania countryside for land with soil similar in richness to his native Black Forest. Keim originally built a log cabin structure on this land for his family’s housing, but later added a stone home along what is now Keim Road in Pike Township.
The main section of the Jacob and Magdalena Keim house was built in two distinct faces and is “replete with early German construction features … including [an] extremely original second floor Chevron door,” according to the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County.
Ther exterior of the building is constructed of limestone, while the finishings and trimmings found throughout the home are most original; relatively unusual in a home this old.
In 2016, the Keim Homestead was designated as a National Historic Landmark as a nationally significant example of German colonial architecture.
The George Douglass House
The George Douglass House is located in Amity Township. The home once belonged to George Douglass of Amity, who was appointed to the rank of Captain in the Pennsylvania-German militia of the American Revolutionary War. George Douglass went on to command the Lotz Battalion, which fought in the Battle of Long Island, and later served as a Justice of the Peace. Today, the nearby neighborhood of Douglassville is named in his honor.
Built in 1763, this two-story, sandstone building complete with a gable roof has been used historically as a home, a tavern, and a general store. Its main section was constructed in accordance with British Georgian architectural style.
Attached to the main section of the building is a two-story store wing built circa 1800, a one-story smokehouse, wash house addition and full-width back porch added circa 1833, and a one-story kitchen wing that was added circa 1900.
The George Douglass House underwent restoration commissioned by the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County between 1995 and 2002.
The Peter Wanner Mansion
Also known as the “Mount Penn Home,” the Peter Wanner Mansion is located at 1401 Walnut Street in Reading, PA. It is situated at the base of Mount Penn and overlooks the whole of the city.
The mansion belonged to Peter D. Wanner, who was born in nearby Kutztown. The son of a farmer, Wanner later went on to become a practicing lawyer in the Reading area. Eventually, he entered politics and married Kate Mellert, the daughter of Arnold Mellert, the son of the founder of Meller Foundry, a prominent pipe manufacturing company at the height of the industrial revolution.
Learning from his father-in-law, Peter Wanner went on to organize the Reading Foundry as an extension of the Mellert iron business. By 1893, the Reading Foundry had surprised the Mellert Foundr in size and importance, employing over 200 men in the business of pipe casting.
The Peter Wanner Mansion was built in 1889 at the height of Wanner’s industrial success. It is designed in a Late Victorian “T-plan” style. It is two-and-a-half stories tall and constructed from squared, rectangular limestone. It features a stone segmental arched portal, a broad front porch, and a four-and-a-half story central frame tower.
Sometime in the 1930s or 1940s, the Peter Wanner Mansion was converted into apartments, though it was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
The Wilhelm Mansion and Carriage House
Another iconic mansion in Reading, the Wilhelm Mansion and Carriage House is located at 730 Centre Avenue.
Originally built in 1877, the home is a three-story dwelling designed in the Gothic Revival architectural style. It is constructed of granite, and measures 40 feet wide and 50 feet deep.
Other key features include a multi-gabled roof, four corbelled chimneys, and a plethora of art glass windows. A two-room addition to the home was added in 1888, while the Carriage House was added in 1890.
The first occupant of the house was the Right Reverend Mark Anthony DeWolfe Howe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese when the diocese was headquartered in Reading. Bishop Howe was a renowned scholar of note, holding both law and divinity degrees, and later serving as an administrator at Lehigh University.
When the diocese moved away from reading, the home was purchased by Charles W. Wilhelm, president of the National Nut, Bolt, and Rivet Works and the Aaron Wilhelm Paint Co Following his death in 1937, the home changed hands numerous times, eventually becoming known as “The Inn at Centre Park,” a beautiful bed and breakfast establishment, which it still functions as today.
Boonecroft and the Daniel Boone Homestead
As the name suggests, the Daniel Boone Homestead was the birthplace of revered American frontiersman, Daniel Boone. It is located on nearly 600 acres near modern-day Birdsboro, and is the largest site owned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
In 1730, Squire Boone (Daniel’s father) built a one-and-a-half log cabin in the Oley Valley, which Daniel Boone was later born in. In 1741, the property was expanded after Squire purchased an additional 25 acres of land for use as a pasture for his dairy cattle.
In the summers, Daniel was given charge of the cattle, which he protected from wildlife such as black bear, bobcats, and mountain lions by keeping watch from a rustic cabin located at the edge of the pasture.
Today, the Daniel Boone Homestead is the site of historically-accurate theatrical portrayal of frontier life. The staff at the Homestead interpret the lives of the three main families that lived on the property: the Boones, the Maugridges, and the DeTurks.
Boonecroft, located in nearby Exeter Township, is considered to be the ancestral home of the Boone family in America. It was built by Quaker settler Geroge Boone III (grandfather of the famous Daniel), and includes the remains of a chimney and fireplace, as well as an adjacent two-and-a-half story stone farmhouse built in the Colonial English style.
It is made of fieldstone with sandstone quoins, and has a slate-covered gable roof. The property also features a contributing guesthouse/springhouse, smokehouse, and barn. Boonecroft was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.