I learned that by the early 1800s, Bellefonte had become the most influential town in Pennsylvania between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg due to the booming iron industry. Today, many of those magnificent structures built by the titans of the time still stand.
For those who need a frame of reference, Bellefonte is located just 12 miles northeast of the State College, Pennsylvania where my father received his bachelor's degree. He was a mere sophomore when I arrived kicking and screaming at the hospital in nearby Bellefonte and I think I recall being informed that professor awarded him an "A" on an exam that day. Of course, that could just be family lore; I'm not entirely sure.
Those interested in visiting the Bellefonte area can easily fit in a little side trip to the thriving town of State College or stroll the grounds of "Old Main" in University Park and browse the blocks of shops that are located directly across the street from the college. I took a picture of the campus prior to getting caught in a downpour the weekend of our visit.
|The building known affectionately as"Old Main" located in nearby University Park|
I'm not sure how many people imagine living like a local when visiting another town, but I often entertain such flights of fancy. When I saw all the grand homes, my reporter instinct kicked in and I wanted to learn more. Lucky for me, the Talleyrand Citizens Committee did the initial work by creating a map listing 46 structures with a brief explanation of each. Copies are available at the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau located at 800 East Park Avenue, so I stopped on the way into town to grab a copy and let my imagination wander.
It just so happened to be hot as blazes that weekend, so my goal of seeing each building fizzled along with my energy thanks to the scorching sun, but I am happy to say I managed to capture pictures of many of them, so without further adieu, here is what I learned on my self-guided, (albeit truncated), walking tour of Bellefonte.
|First National Bank Building & Crider Exchange Building|
|George Grey Barnard house|
You can see the statues and read more about a controversy that took place in 2011 in Harrisburg here.
Barnard is interred in Harrisburg, as per his request to be near his art.
|Model of the sculptures that greet guests at the entrance to the Pennsylvania State Capitol can be seen at the Centre County Library and Historical Museum.|
|The Brockerhoff Hotel built in 1864|
The Brockherhoff Hotel, located at 105 S. Allegheny Street, was built in 1864 by Henry Brockerhoff, who also built a grist mill in the area. The structure is a fine example of 1860-1870 Gothic Revival architecture and operates today as an assisted living facility.
|The Reynold's Mansion|
The Reynold's Mansion (rear view)
The Reynolds Mansion was once the site of a tavern that was popular in the late 1700s and run by a man by the name of George McKee. The current imposing structure was built in 1885 by a wealthy businessman, landowner, and banker by the name of Major William Frederick Reynolds. The exterior stone, known as "blue brownstone" due to its hue, was quarried by the Hummelstown Brownstone Company in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. The mansion incorporates Gothic, Italianate and Queen Anne styles and today operates as a luxury bed and breakfast.
|The Hastings Mansion|
|The Potter Home|
|The Bellefonte Courthouse|
|The Bush Arcade|
|An old picture of the Bush arcade ( Fred D. Smith collection)|
|Bellefonte's First Hospital|
|A Historical Marker exists in front of this Anna Wagner Keichline building|
|"The Manse" at 201 W. High|
|Once part of the Pennsylvania Match Factory, Big Springs Spirits operates now as a distillery.|
The match factory may have closed, but employees there are still helping people get a little lit. Big Springs Spirits has been operating in the area since 2014 and provides guests with an inviting space to kick back and socialize. Owners Kevin Lloyd and Paula Cipar now distill 12 libations, including vodka, several rums, gins, whiskey and cream bourbon, so when you tire of touring, Big Springs Spirits is the perfect way to end the day.
These are just a few of the 46 structures on the historical, self-guided walking tour provided by the Talleyrand Park Citizens Committee. The map not only lists addresses, but also provides specifics on each of the structures, along with historical markers, information about the seven Governors who hailed from the area, topographical insight and other interesting information that makes the beautiful borough of Bellefonte unique.