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Lansford

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West of Jim Thorpe on U.S. 209, the coal mining and processing village of Lansford, once the center of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company's mining operations, dominates Panther Valley. Here can be seen the continued influence of the coal industry with operating coal breakers, mountains of mining debris, and the array of eastern European churches that provide a brick and stone portrait of the post–Civil War settlers. The business avenue, Patterson Street, is paralleled by two residential streets, Abbott and Bertsch, where a remarkable variety of churches express the ethnically diverse and identifiable population. Most notable is St. Nicholas Orthodox Church with its three glittering onion domes above a facade of yellow brick (1910, Benjamin Rush Stevens; see p. 467) at 114 W. Bertsch Street. The skyline of the village is enlivened by the twin Gothic spires of St. Michael's Slovak Catholic Church (1908; 124 E. Abbott Street) designed by Bethlehem architect Albert W. Leh, who received commissions for many ethnically centered churches in this part of the coal country. Here he also designed the adjacent rectory (1907) as well as the Sts. Peter and Paul Polish Catholic Church and parish building (1907, 1926; 213 E. Abbott Street). George I. Lovatt of Philadelphia received the commission for the St. Ann's Roman Catholic School at Tunnel and Bertsch streets, suggesting older Irish denominations continued to seek out Philadelphia architects while newer eastern European congregations found their own architects in Bethlehem and elsewhere.

The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company experimented with model housing, as evidenced by the dozens of austere hollow building tile and stucco dwellings marching down W. Bertsch Street, all designed by the prolific George Welsh in 1918. Nonetheless, much of Lansford is composed of large frame houses, part of a regional housing type that spreads from Millville, New Jersey, north to Scranton, which provide evidence of the relative wealth of industrial workforces during boom years. Like contemporary McMansions, value was in interior space rather than permanence of construction.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas

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