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Lititz and Vicinity

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Lititz had its beginning in 1741 when a local farmer, John George Klein, permitted the construction of a log church for Moravian services on his property after he heard Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf speak in Lancaster. Klein followed his initial gift with an additional four-acre tract that became the site of the first community house or Gemeinhaus (1746–1748), and a year later offered his entire farm of nearly five hundred acres, which became the basis for Lititz. The name referred to the castle of the Bohemian king who in 1456 had offered protection to the followers of John Huss.

Surveys were completed in the next decade with a main street running roughly east–west centered on a “Platz” or town square with flanking buildings for single sisters and brothers. These were built of stone with characteristic double-pitched roofs with jerkinheads at each end. A Greek cross–plan church was erected in 1787 that was remodeled in the fashionable German Romanesque in 1857, very much in the mode of Stephen D. Button's work. This shift toward contemporary fashion denoted the end of the Moravian monopoly on ownership of property. From 1855 on, house lots were sold to all comers. The secular portion of the town is centered to the east along PA 501, now Lancaster County's premier leisure-focused main street. It has a richly pleasurable texture with such whimsical shop names characteristic of new elite places as Spill the Beans Coffee on Main Street and, around the corner, Dosie Dough pastries.

Lititz's center grew around what is now called the General Sutter Inn at 14 E. Main Street. The early-nineteenth-century building was later named for John Sutter of California gold rush fame, who retired to Lititz in 1871. It was originally built to serve non-Moravian visitors. Like the Almonry at Ephrata ( LA34.3) and the Sun Inn in Bethlehem ( NO24), visitors were segregated from the spiritual community. Nearby is an extraordinarily conservative brownstone Lutheran Church (1911) on Main Street. Its congregation (St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran) has since moved into a rather remarkable LeCorbusier-influenced modern church (1969) and a Frank Lloyd Wright–influenced church school (1960) just to the west at 200 W. Orange Street. C. Emlen Urban of Lancaster designed the classical Farmers National Bank at 9 Main Street (c. 1920). Notable is the replica of the demolished Frank Furness station across the tracks from the Wilbur Chocolate plant. Main Street contains the core of Lititz's early buildings. The Teddy Bear hospital occupies a mid-eighteenth-century log house (302 Balmer Road) that has been shorn of its original pent eave; the Lititz Museum is at 145 Main Street; and the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery and museum at 223 E. Main Street occupies a mid-eighteenth-century stone building.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas

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