HISTORICAL PHOTOS
 

HISTORY OF...

306,308 & 310 EAST HIGH STREET, POTTSTOWN PA 19464...

Our fine venue which resides at 306,308 & 310 East High Street in Pottstown PA was build by the Fraternal Order of Eagles between 1927-1928. The Eagle's order was established on Feb 6th, 1898 in Seattle Washington. These men were drawn together by mutual business interests and at first called their organization the "Order of Good Things" as they looked to share their group with others. Seeing that their group would expand to a national level they changed the name to the "Fraternal Order of Eagles" and called the many sub-ordinate bodies "Aeries" which means Eagles' Nest. The Pottstown Aerie, No. 626, F.O.E. was organized Wednesday evening January 13th, 1904. The Eagles' first landing in Pottstown was held at Dubbs Hall across the street from our venues current location. Then they landed at Wagner's Hall, 451 High St. until Jan. 1st 1905. Next they occupied the entire 3rd Floor of the Exchange Building, 262-264 High St. But the Eagles' still hadn't landed where they could nest. However, while at this location the Eagles' Home Association was formed on Nov. 11th 1906. Among it's many responsibilities, one was to acquire, hold and enjoy real estate for the uses of the Eagles. It was this association which purchased the properties and buildings which used to stand where our current venue resides in January of 1907 from the Estate of Mark H. Richards. The building which stood at 306-308 (there was a wood frame building at 310) was renovated to be fit to be the Eagles' nest or "Aeries" and on Wednesday evening May 8th, 1907 it was dedicated. Though the Eagles had finally made their nest this building would never meet their vision of what could be or the needs of the growing membership at the Eagles' club house. We know that they were never satisfied with this home for as they state in the dedication booklet to our current facility "For twenty-four years we have saved and worked, hoped and planned, toward the happy day when we should live in a real home such as this." As fate would have it, on Tuesday morning at 7:30am May 31st, 1927 demolition started on the Eagles' old home as well as the wood framed building beside it.

After interviewing many firms, Witman & Royer, Registered Architects of York, PA started to make plans for our current venue. At the time it was to be erected it was to be the most up to date and beautiful Fraternity home in Eastern PA or perhaps the whole state. In those days having the best fraternal home was the way of getting memberships and keeping a club house open. So, you can believe they spared no expense. The dedication booklet for the new facility pours and pours over all the details of materials, fixtures, and work that went into the home. They were very proud of what they accomplished and if you have seen it you know why! After years of saving, hoping, dreaming and planning and after builder William H. Wiand of Pottstown carried out their plans to a "T", on Oct 30th through Nov 13th, 1928 they dedicated the finest home they would ever have.

On Tuesday the 30th of October 1928, 6pm until 9pm the Eagle members were invited in for the very first time for the "Inspection" of their new nest. On that same evening the very first dancing feet hit the ballroom floor of this very fine monument to the dedication and perseverance of the Pottstown Eagles took flight to the dance rhythms of the "Ted" Brownagle's Arcadians! They were an 11 piece dance orchestra out of Harrisburg, PA. The next night the lady friends of members were admitted for a banquet in the ballroom. Festivities continued through out the next week with, bowling competitions (on their 4 lane bowling ally in the basement), vaudeville shows, smokers, a stag show, an "Eagles' Dance" Nov. 10th with "Good Orchestra" (not sure if that was the bands name, most likely not), a luncheon and ended again with Ted Brownagle's Arcadians on Nov. 13th and the nest's first opening to male friends of the members.

This is a good place to stop and tell you how the general public entered the building. First off, the general public was not invited to inspect the building during the dedication festivities. Second off, the general public was not allowed in any part of the building except the 2nd floor ballroom. They were also not allowed to use the grand entrance at the doorway marked 310 High St. They had to use the 308 entrance which staircase only led to the 2nd floor ballroom and 3rd floor manager's apartment. A small ticket window can still be seen in the lobby where the general public would pay there admission to see fine bands for dancing and to dine at grand banquets with food provided by the Ealges' caterer Frank L. Hartenstine. You may know this name Hartenstine as it has long been associated with the Sunnybrook Ballroom which was built by Raymond C. Hartenstine Sr. and a partner in 1931 just 3 years after our fine ballroom.

From the buildings inception it was used for banquets, parties, weddings, dances, meetings, bowling and shows. This fact was made known to use by an unusual source. Our source was an old match book cover advertisement that someone in Reading, PA saved for years and a friend of ours found on Ebay.com in January of 2012. We also know that the Eagles paid off their mortgage and had their mortgage burning ceremony in 1947 as the same friend found a mortgage burning commemorative medallion on Ebay at the same time held in New Bloomfield, PA.

We have several pictures of various rooms of the building when it was first erected as well as great descriptive details in the dedication booklet giving us a very great picture and idea of exactly what the ballroom looked like at the time it was built, what rooms were used for and what has been changed over the many years it has stood in Pottstown. Imagine the front facade of the building in it's modified Greek Doric Order of Architecture shining in the sunlight. Constructed entirely of Onondaga Litholite stone of pink granite texture set upon a dark red New England granite base. Imagine all of that wrapped in brass with both front doorways, all the windows and the under side of the hanging entrance ways all brass with the center eagle and entrance ways illuminated by night in green neon. The amazing part is that all of these elements are still there though faded with time. This building was meant to be grand in every way. We also have photos from 1947 when the mortgage was burnt. These pictures show a very large membership as well as a mural of fields and rolling hills painted on the walls of the ballroom with a picket fence hanging in front of the mural all around the room. The walls though not visible in the black and white photos were painted two different lighter shades of green throughout the 2nd floor. We found this fact while doing restorations around the ballroom last year. Also seen in the 1947 photos is the addition of a pullout stage that was also motorized. The dark oak that lined the front of the stage was gone and replaced with sheet wood and chrome decorations.

Since we took possession of the 2nd floor ballroom in 2006 we have run into many people who have told us stories of the ballroom. Many had danced to live big band jazz being played during these golden years at the ballroom. We have even ran into a number of the band members themselves who played from the stage and would play there weekly while playing the Moose two doors up the street another night of the week. One person even told us how on New Year's Eve every floor in the building would be filled to overflowing with dancers as bands would be playing on each floor to ring in the new year! This over flow of joy and vitality would continue into the 1960's...

TO BE CONTINUED...