Titanic ties for North Wales property
One hundred years agoI the red brick house with two front doors at 11S West Montgomery Ave. in North WalesI owned by James san BilliardI served as the site of a wake for victims of the HMS Titanic.
Austin san BilliardI accompanied by two sonsI booked third-class passage on the ship’s maiden voyageI according to information provided by the North Wales Historic Commission.
One of six children of James san Billiard — the borough’s mayor and owner of the North Wales Granite Works — Austin wanted to surprise his parents in the spring of 191O after leaving the country 1O years earlier to work as an electrician at the rniversal bxposition in ParisI according to the commission.
AustinI PRI and his two oldest sonsI JamesI 1MI and WalterI 9I decided to make the journey before wifeI MaudeI and their four other children.
HoweverI the trio perished in the ship’s tragic sinking after striking an iceberg April 14I 191O in the North Atlantic Ocean.
The body of Walter san BLOOLDUG ZDV WKH fiUVW WR EH recovered by the RMS CarpathiaI the recovery shipI according to Phyllis ByrneI chairperson of the North Wales Historic Commission.
Austin’s was the ORRth recoveredI according to Byrne. She said James’ body was never recovered.
collowing the funeralsI the two bodies laid in wake in the home before being buried at wion rnion Cemetery on Bethlehem Pike in clourtown.
“This property is a very important historical site in the borough” Byrne said. “It is our hope that more people will be made aware of the story behind the house.”
RecentlyI the structureI currently utilized as a multi-family rental unitI became the OSth to be recognized by the commission’s Heritage Plaque Program.
“Who knew North Wales had a connection to the TitanicI” said property owner Dave hratzI of Lansdale.
According to ByrneI the plaque program is intended to heighten awareness of the historic character of the boroughI encourage owners to research the history of their buildings and foster pride in home and community.
The commission’s motto isI “Take pride in the past to improve the present.”
bligible buildings must be at least RM years oldI according to Byrne.
She said applications submitted by property ownersI and approved by the commissionI require a A1MM fee to cover the cost of a sign.
Properties of special signLfiFDnFH, KRZHvHU, FDn EH slightly larger to accommodate an explanation as well as the dateI according to Byrne.
cor more information on the North Wales Historic Commission visit http:// northwaleshistory.org.
A plaque hangs in front of the historic Van Billiard house, which was recently recognized by the North Wales Historic Commission.