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In 1740, George Whitefield, an early Methodist preacher and associate of Methodism's founder John Wesley, bought five thousand acres near the Forks of the Delaware with the intention of building a school for African American children. Needing experienced builders, he paid the passage from Savannah for the Reverend Peter Boehler and a small number of Moravians who had been struggling to establish a colony in Georgia. When Whitefield ran out of money in 1741 and was forced to return to Philadelphia, he sold all five thousand acres to the Moravians, who established the religious community of Nazareth here. For its first three decades Nazareth operated as a socialist utopian community, but by the late 1760s private enterprise began to take hold. In 1771, a separate town plan was laid out with streets and lots centered on a 200 × 340–foot commercial square. Main Street, the principal street to the south of the square, became the commercial spine. The arrival of the first railroad in 1880 led to the opening of several cloth mills, followed, in 1898, by the first cement works. Today, although one mill still occupies a site on Main Street, the textile industry has largely disappeared, but the C. F. Martin Guitar factory remains at 10 W. North Street to attest to the craft culture of the region. The cement industry, however, remains a visible presence. At the southern edge of town cement plants with their lines of towering concrete cylinders stretch across the horizon, forming a most imposing physical landscape.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas

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