Lying in the valley created by the Driftwood branch of Sinnemahoning Creek, Emporium began as the county seat and a lumber town, using the creek to ship logs to Lock Haven and Williamsport. Several early houses illustrate this period of lumber wealth (see CM3). After the surrounding hills were stripped of trees, the blasting powder industry, founded here in 1890, used the hills as natural bunkers. The Climax Powder Company produced three-quarters of the blasting powder for the construction of the Panama Canal in 1914. As dynamite took over the explosives industry, the powder industry waned, and Dupont bought out the remaining blasting powder producers and moved them to New Jersey. By the turn of the twentieth century, the electronic parts industry was established in Emporium. Sylvania, founded in 1901, became a major employer by the 1920s. The company was so successful that Emporium was on Nazi Germany's bomb list during World War II. The plant closed in 1991, as radio tubes became increasingly obsolete.
Emporium's 4th Street has a handsome collection of late-nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century buildings. Two churches are noteworthy, the brick Gothic Revival St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church (1893) at 235 E. 4th Street, and Emmanuel Episcopal Church (1901, Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson; 179 E. 4th Street), a brownstone church with a heavy square entrance tower. A yellow brick, three-story former school building (1924; 240 E. 4th Street), now the Cameron County Christian Center, has pilaster strips with composite capitals and cartouches above the entrances. The newest addition to the street is the Barbara Moscato Brown Memorial Library (2002; 27 W. 4th Street), a red brick building with two pyramid-roofed pavilions and a corner entrance marked by a cupola, designed by Larson Design Group of Williamsport.
If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.
SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.