Ti­tanic ties for North Wales prop­erty

North Penn Life - - OPINION - By Bradley Sch­legel bschlegel@jour­nal­reg­is­ter. com

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.

Photo by MARK C. PSORAS

A plaque hangs in front of the his­toric Van Bil­liard house, which was re­cently rec­og­nized by the North Wales His­toric Com­mis­sion.

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