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Subject: [PAMONTGO-L] News from Pennsburg - June 26, 2003
Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2003 22:37:48 EDT


Ref: The Hearthstone Town and Country
Pennsburg, Montgomery County, PA
Thursday - June 26, 2003

VALLEY PAST by Larry Roeder
Passing Through The Red Hill Hotel

Sometimes it's great fun to take a look at a local business or industry and
check out some of the past owners and operators. Not only do you learn about
them, but you can also find out a great deal about special events that took
place there. Most often the structure served as a facilitator. Due to it's size,
convenience, or nature of the business, it was just a great place to hold a
special event. Take the Red Hill Hotel for example. The rear portion of the hotel
is reported to have been built prior to 1800. The owner of the property in
1806 was innkeeper Solomon FRIES. Solomon was the oldest son of John FRIES, the
leading spirit of the FRIES Rebellion. John was caught, tried and sentenced to
death for his actions in the insurrection. He was saved from the hangman's
noose when President John ADAMS pardoned him in 1799. The section of Route 663
through Milford Township today carries the moniker of John FRIES Highway. Other
early owners of the inn were Adam HILLEGASS and his son George. In 1806 Adam
bought the property from FRIES, and in 1811 sold it to George. He opened it
as a hotel or public house as they were called back then. It was known as the
Hillegassville Hotel at the time. George ran the business until his death at
which time his son Josiah inherited it. Josiah sold it to Henry HEVENER in 1859.
>From HEVENER, the property passed to George MILLER, Lewis KLINE and Henry B.
AUCHY. AUCHY was a liquor and produce distributor. It was AUCHY who added the
impressive tower to the southeast corner of the building. It was also AUCHY
who built the racetrack about a quarter of a mile off Main Street that brought
Red Hill quite a bit of notoriety during the late 1800's and early 1900's.
AUCHY would go on to greater notoriety. In the late 1890's, AUCHY bought 16 acres
of land just outside of Philadelphia near Chestnut Hill. In 1898 he opened the
"White City" amusement park. In 1899 AUCHY traded in his racing harnesses for
hand-carved carousel horses when he teamed up with partner Louis BERNI to
form the Philadelphia Carousal Company. By 1903, he set aside the fast drink for
fast coasters when he and Chester ALBRIGHT formed the Philadelphia Toboggan
Company, a premier maker of roller coaster cars. Still in business today, the
PTC is the oldest roller coaster ride manufacturer in the world. The next owner
of the hotel was Charles WAGNER who, in 1896, sold it to local veterinarian
Jesse HILLEGASS. HILLEGASS became one of the hardiest supporters of the
horseracing set. Prior to 1920, another prominent owner of the hotel was Adam SCHEIDT.
SCHEIDT came to the United States in 1878, and went into business with his
brother Charles as owner-operators of a small brewery and saloon in Norristown.
After his brother died in 1884, Adam took over the business. He affected the
incorporation of the business in 1890, and became president and general
manager. SCHEIDT was a master at business and under his guiding mind, the brewery
grew and prospered from a small two-man operation to a sprawling building complex
that took up seven-and-one-half acres! He purchased inns and public houses at
strategic locations in Montgomery County to sell and feature his malt brews.
SCHEIDT's brewery in Norristown was eventually sold to SCHMIDT's Brewing
Company of Philadelphia. The owners and operators were only part of the attraction
of the establishment over the years. The Red Hill Hotel saw its share of
special meetings and events during the same time. Among them was the first formal
meeting of the Red Hill Band around 1900. That was the gathering where the new
group elected John RENNINGER as their president, Adam MCLEAN as secretary and
John GERY treasurer. The Red Hill Hotel was the hub of activity before and
after the municipality became a borough. It was at the hotel where the local
residents gathered to nominate a burgess (mayor), seven council members, six
school directors, a high constable and a constable. It's interesting to note that a
newspaper item reported that at this special nominating meeting, "party line
were ignored and only one ticket was placed in the field - that of the
Citizens party." Speaking of voting, more than 80 percent of the eligible voters
turned out for Red Hill's first election on December 2, 1902. On August 10, 1910,
over 1,000 people gathered around a beautifully decorated bandstand at the Red
Hill Hotel (then known as the BERGEY Hotel), to witness the coming of
electrical power to the borough. At exactly 8 p.m., power surged through the newly
strung electric lines and lit up 36 streetlights and brought electricity into
six Red Hill homes! The Red Hill Hotel played host to other prominent people and
events over the years. Some of them are forever forgotten. We'll never know
how many decisions were made over a meal in the dining room, or how many
friendships were forged over a pint of SCHEIDT's Valley Forge brew.

Picture - Austrian Master Brewer Adam SCHEIDT sold the Red Hill Hotel to
Broom Maker Irwin RICHARD in 1920.

Picture - The Hillegassville (Red Hill) Hotel as it appeared in 1897 along
Main Street at Sixth Street played host to prominent people and events.

Picture - The first carousel produced by former Hillegassville (Red Hill)
Hotel owner Henry AUCHY's Philadelphia Carousel Company was placed in AUCHY's
"White City" amusement park. C1899.


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