A city sits atop the desolate Broad Mountain Plateau because of the ambitions of a classic self-made man, Ario Pardee. A surveyor, Pardee arrived as an employee of the Philadelphia investors who had, in 1836, begun to build the Beaver Meadows Railroad in order to exploit coal deposits discovered here a decade earlier. Pardee moved rapidly from worker to manager to mining entrepreneur. A town emerged around his mines, and, led by Pardee and his onetime partner George Markle, Hazleton soon outstripped nearby Beaver Meadows to become the center of the Lehigh field. Hazleton was essentially a company town and, as such, grew in a hierarchical manner, with Ario Pardee at its center. His square stone Italianate mansion, built in 1861, occupied the center of a block-sized estate around which many of the town's civic buildings were arrayed. After Pardee's death, plans to save the estate as a city park were struck down by voters in favor of commercial development. The resulting ensemble of buildings reflects the high-water mark of Hazleton's prosperity. Foremost are the Hotel Altamont at W. Broad and N. Church streets and the former Hazleton National Bank at W. Broad and N. Laurel Streets, fraternal twins constructed in 1924 to the designs of Thomas, Martin and Kirkpatrick.
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