Sunday, May 26, 2019


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The “Town and Country” Building on the Square
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

            With the news of the recent structural problem at 10 Fourth Street in Pennsburg and the myths circulating on social media of the building's origin, an opportunity has presented itself to share a brief history of the early days of the iconic structure.

            After operating in a small office for 14 years since its founding in 1899, Town and Country founder and publisher, Dr. Charles Q. Hillegass, knew that he would have to find a new home for his growing newspaper business.

            In 1913 he purchased a vacant lot bordering Fourth Street and Pottstown Avenue in Pennsburg to have the new home for his newspaper built.  For the next year, construction work would take place on the building that would be home to the local newspaper for the next 73 years.

            The idea for the triangular design of the building came from the location of the New York Herald newspaper building, which sat at the crossroads of Broadway and Sixth Avenue on Herald Square (known as Times Square today) in New York City.  Coincidently, Hillegass' brother Howard was a reporter for the Herald at the time.

            The Town and Country building opened in December of 1914 and joined the iconic structures of The Odd Fellows Hall, Roth's Hotel, Mensch's Drug Store, and Gilbert and Hevener's corner store that were located at Pennsburg's Square.  It would be almost another decade before the Farmers National Bank replaced Mensch's Drug Store at the crossroads.

            When the building opened, the newspaper reported that it was a splendid structure known as the Town and Country Building, located in the heart of town opposite the post office at a point where Fourth Street and Pottstown Avenue converge with Main Street.

            The location is an ideal one.  It is near the post office (then located on the first floor of the Odd Fellows Hall), railway, and the center of town.  The building itself is an ornament to the town.  It is two-stories high with a well-lit, spacious basement.  The building is of Reading shale brick, a cement block foundation, and immense cement water tabling and coping.  An artistic electric sign "Town and Country" which can be plainly seen from as far as Geryville, three miles away, on the front of the flat-iron shaped building.

            In 1987 the offices of the Town and Country moved across Pottstown Avenue to the basement of what was once a vest factory, and in 1988 Eldon Design and Associates, Inc. purchased the building and has been operating at that location since then.





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