Longswamp His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety re­leases Sixth Vil­lage Book­let

‘The Vil­lage of Lower Longswamp’ fo­cuses on the his­toric Mary Ann Fur­nace

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - RELIGION - By Eloise Long Longswamp Town­ship His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety

Longswamp was rec­og­nized of­fi­cially as a town­ship in 1752. Today, it op­er­ates as one body; how­ever, it is not that long ago that vil­lages within the town­ship had their own iden­tity. The Longswamp Town­ship His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety is work­ing to pre­serve and share some of the unique­ness of these present-day, un­rec­og­niz­able vil­lages.

The so­ci­ety re­cently re­leased its sixth book­let in a se­ries that fea­tures the vil­lages and ham­lets of Longswamp Town­ship. “The Vil­lage of Lower Longswamp” fo­cuses on the his­toric Mary Ann Fur­nace, lo­cated along Cen­ten­nial Road. A marker, erected by the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety of Berks County, can be seen along Mary Ann Drive.

The fur­nace op­er­ated from 1789 un­til 1869 at the helm of iron­mas­ters from the Lesher and Trexler fam­i­lies. The fur­nace fab­ri­cated wood-burn­ing stoves and, later, the first iron stove – called the Le­high Coal Stove – to burn an­thracite or stove coal. Today, the Lesher and Trexler man­sions are home to the Savidge Farm – Pump­kin Patch, the Longswamp Bed and Break­fast, and Rohrbach/Savidge Farm.

The Weiler fam­ily was an­other in­flu­en­tial fam­ily in Longswamp as well as the sur­round­ing area of Lower Ma­cungie. The barn, lo­cated on the Weiler farm com­plex along Spring­stone Hol­low Lane, was built circa 1790, and could be the old­est barn in the town­ship.

No vil­lage was com­plete with­out its own tav­ern, and Lower Longswamp was no ex­cep­tion. The Lower Longswamp Ho­tel, later known as Blair Creek Inn and Blue Or­chid Inn, was a pop­u­lar spot. Dur­ing the book launch, held at Savidge Farm, res­i­dents re­it­er­ated the pop­u­lar­ity of the cheap beer and great hoa­gies dur­ing the era of own­er­ship by Win­nie and Josie Lease (1955-1976).

Al­though there is no of­fi­cial doc­u­men­ta­tion to ver­ify the ex­is­tence of a stop along the Un­der­ground Rail­road, lo­cal res­i­dents sug­gest that a tun­nel did ex­ist be­tween what is now the bed and break­fast prop­erty and the Savidge barn. Re­con­struc­tion fol­low­ing a barn fire in the late ‘70s un­cov­ered an arch­way to a tun­nel from the barn and un­der what is now State Street.

And then there’s the ghost story! Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal leg­end, a spook or witch, banned to the hills, con­tin­ues to sweep up on the “Diehle Kopp” (Diehls Head Moun­tain). It was a pop­u­lar hike for scouts dur­ing the early ‘60s.

The his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety has pub­lished five other book­lets, in­clud­ing the vil­lages of Longs­dale, Sham­rock, Mertz­town, Longswamp Cen­tre, and Han­cock. Each book­let in­cludes nu­mer­ous vin­tage pho­to­graphs, in­ter­views with res­i­dents, and other ar­ti­facts that are unique to each vil­lage. The next book­let will fea­ture the vil­lages of Red Lion, in­clud­ing Rit­ten­house Gap, Maple Grove, and Schloss­burg. We in­vite and en­cour­age res­i­dents to con­trib­ute photos, ar­ti­facts, and per­sonal mem­o­ries about these and all Longswamp vil­lages.

The book­lets are avail­able for $15 + $3 (ship­ping): Longswamp Town­ship His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, PO Box 610, Mertz­town, PA 19539, at Rad­cliffe’s Great Valu in Mertz­town, or call­ing 610-682-0696.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Old photo of the Lower Longswamp Ho­tel.

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