New historic picture book of Ephrata announced

By on September 7, 2016
Shown is a photo, circa 1867, of East Main Street. It is the earliest view of the town known, looking east from the roof of the Mt.Vernon Hotel, which will serve as the book's cover.

Shown is a photo, circa 1867, of East Main Street. It is the earliest view of the town known, looking east from the roof of the Mt.Vernon Hotel, which will serve as the book’s cover.

The Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley is pleased to announce the publication of “Then and Now, A View of Ephrata Borough Through the Decades, 1891-2016,” by Ephrata historian and former mayor Clarence E. Spohn. The book is being published to commemorate the quasquicentennial or 125th anniversary of the incorporation of the Borough of Ephrata in 1891. The hardbound picture book will be printed in a limited edition of 800 copies and will contain 224 pages and 447 photographs.

The book’s laminated cover with feature a sepia toned photograph of a rare stereopticon view of East Main Street looking east from the roof of the Mt. Vernon Inne located on the southeast corner of the square. The view, which dates from 1867, is the oldest known photographic image of the town and features the Ephrata Mt. Springs Hotel perched on the hillside overlooking the town.

In the Historical Society’s earlier publications, it has published early photographs of the town accompanied by the street address and a brief description of the site. Realizing a change in demographics within the Ephrata community, the format of this book will deviate from those previously published.

In most instances, multiple photographs are included that will show the building or location during the late 19th or early 20th centuries accompanied by a view of the same building or location during the last half of the 20th century or the 21st century. This comparison concept enables the reader to see the building or site as it once appeared, along with its appearance in more recent years. A detailed history of each building or site is included, which will provide insight into its ownership and occupants through the decades. For example, for 124-128 East Main St., a photograph of the Mohler/Herchelroth home built in 1883 will appear, along with a photograph of the Main Theatre built in 1938, and a 1999 photograph of the Brossman Building, which now occupies the site.

The book is designed to stir old memories for long-time residents, and, at the same time, provide a fascinating insight into the history of the borough’s buildings and sites for younger generation, as well as those residents who have moved to the town in more recent years.

The focus of the book’s contents is primarily confined to buildings and sites located within the boundaries of the borough at the time of its incorporation. The tour through the town begins at Trinity Lutheran Church, continues down the south side of Main Street to the Cocalico Creek, continues up the north side of Main Street, and ends at the site of the former Mt. Springs Hotel. Along the way, side trips address buildings that stand or stood along Lake, Gross, State, Franklin, Oak, Pine, and Locust streets and Washington Avenue, etc. Included at the back of the book will be a collection of views of the Ephrata Community Hospital, Grater Memorial Park, the Ephrata Fair, and Christmas in the downtown through the years.

If you love to reminisce, this volume is guaranteed to bring back many fond memories of days gone by —a bustling downtown filled with shoppers, the many factories that employed the town’s residents, the community Christmas tree and Santa’s house at the railroad station, the pony rides and the iconic twin Ferris wheels at the Ephrata Fair. The days of the Roxy and Main Theaters, Sears Roebuck, J. J. Newberry’s, Harris’ Department Store, E. L. Snyder’s appliance store, Givler’s Grocery, and the Acme on East Main Street, as well as Carter’s, Cox’s and Royer’s Drug stores. Included are the town’s early hotels, its school buildings, the Clare Point Race Track — the list goes on and on.

The book will sell for $25. Pre-publication orders are currently being taken and books will be available for pick-up in mid-to-late November at the Historical Society’s library, 237 W. Main St., Ephrata. Don’t delay and order now, only 800 copies are available; the book will not be reprinted. The book would make an excellent Christmas present for both family and friends. A clip-out order form can be found elsewhere in this issue of the paper.

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