Timeline of Slatington History

February 1888: Slatington Gets Electricity

29 February 1888
The Electric Light
It had been intended to have the electric lights in readiness to be illuminated on Saturday evening, but this could not be accomplished. On Monday evening, however, a test was made and a portion of the lights were burning. At six o’clock the dynamos were set in motion and immediately the little globes shed forth a light which was intensely brilliant and gave very general satisfaction. Things at the station are entirely new and do not run as smoothly as they will in the course of a few weeks. The lights will make a still better showing at the end of that time.

25 January 1888
The Electric Light
The Citizens Electric Light and Power Company recently organized in this borough, are pushing matters so as to be enabled to furnish the light as early a date as possible. Four employees of the Richter Electric Light Company of Philadelphia, which supply the electrical appliances, are at present in town wiring the different buildings contracted for. The poles have arrived and were distributed last week to the points where they are to be located, and are being placed in position this week. The boilers and engine required for the plant will be furnished by Earle & Graffin of Allentown. The erection of the building for the dynamos, engine and boiler houses will be commenced in a week or two. These are to be located somewhere at the foot of Dowell street on land belonging to Mr. Fred. Horlacher, the superintendent. It is more than probable that by the first of March, the streets, business houses and many of the private dwellings will be brilliantly illuminated by the beautiful incandescent light.

11 January 1888
The Electric Light at Last
Messrs. E. D. Peters, Fred. Welz, W. L. Williams, Joel Neff and Fred. Horlacher, progressive and enterprising citizens with ample means, have formed a co-partnership under the firm name of Citizen’s Electric Light and Power Company, whose purpose it is to establish an electric light plant in this place. Through the instigation of Messrs. Welz and Horlacher an experimental light was put up several weeks ago, which has been running nightly since and seems to give the most satisfactory results. In the meantime the town has been thoroughly canvassed and nearly three hundred lights have been subscribed for. Preliminary meetings of the above-named gentlemen were held last week and finally an organization was affected by electing Mr. Peters President, Mr. Welz Vice President, Mr. Williams Secretary, Mr. Neff Treasurer and Mr. Horlacher Superintendent. The Company has ordered the boilers and engines required for the plant. Have secured permission from Council to erect poles, which were purchased yesterday, and stretch wires. The exact location of the plant has not been fully determined on, but that matter will be decided at the next meeting of the Company, and work upon the erection of a building be commenced immediately. It is expected to have the plant in running order by the first of March. The Richter Electric Light Company of Philadelphia, will furnish the electrical appliances.

Source: The Slatington News, 11 January, 25 January, 29 February 1888

April 1888: The Bittner House Opens

Description of the New and Magnificent Structure--The Gorgeous Appointments and Fixtures
The most auspicious affair that probably ever occurred in this borough was the formal opening of the magnificent new four-story hotel, the Bittner House, erected during the past year by Henry Bittner, which event took place on Thursday last.
Rearing its mighty and ornate fronts far above the surrounding buildings, the new structure on the southwest corner of Main and Railroad streets, presents a grand and imposing appearance and is a model of beauty and strength. It is by all odds the finest building in the state in any town the size of Slatington, and is a striking example of the architectural progress that has been made in this borough within a few years past, and much credit is due to Mr. G.T. Oplinger, the architect, who also superintended the erection, for the masterly manner in which he carried out his part of the work. It unquestionably places him in the front rank of the architectonical profession.

It is constructed of pressed brick four stories high with basement ad surmounted by a large and handsome cupola. Numerous porches ad balconies relieve the different stories at places. The gable ends of both fronts are adorned with California redwood shingles. The roof is slate. Both the single and triple windows contain stained glass in either front while the windows of the cupola have cathedral colored glass, the whole presenting a most beautiful appearance, especially at night, when the entire building is illuminated with the incandescent electric light.

The building is of the Queen Anne style of architecture and in dimensions is most spacious. The width of the Main Street front is 47 feet, and on Railroad street 88 feet; height from pavement line to top of arcade feature on Main street is 64 feet; on railroad street, 70 feet; to cupola floor, 80 feet; to top of flag staff on cupola, 100 feet.

The main entrances, two in number, are from both Main and Railroad street fronts in the middle of the building and connect with corridors seven feet wide, leading to the centre of the building, where a most elegant stairway of solid oak leads to the upper floors. The office entrance is at the northeast corner of the building.

The interior arrangement is especially adapted for convenience. The basement is divided into numerous apartments. Entering on Railroad street one is confronted with a handsomely furnished restaurant, containing a prettily-designed bar of cherry, back of which are shelvings provided with eleven plate mirrors, a large refrigerator and places for the storage of beverages. The northwestern corner of the basement is the cellar, where a thirty horsepower boiler is located, furnishing heat for the entire house. The boiler is from the Globe Steam Heating Company, of North Wales. The restaurant kitchen adjoins the cellar and opens into the restaurant, where there is also a steam eating counter. In the basement are also a lady's restaurant, tonsorial and pool room, water closest, all well located.

The first floor is of maple in double layers. The woodwork of the doors, window sashes, etc., is of oak. The counter and bar are of cherry. The shelving back of bar contains nine mirrors, the largest and centre mirror is 54 3/8 inches by 60 inches and all are of 1 1/2 inc bevel-edge French plate glass. The bar and shelving are of a unique design and pronounced by all to be the most handsome in the Lehigh Valley. It certainly speaks louder than words for the architect's skill in designing. The office and bar-room are divided by a partition. To the right of the hallway, as one enters from Main street, is a large reading room. Immediately behind is the lavatory, then comes the baggage and cloak room and back of this is the minor dining room. A hallway separates this from the kitchen, a large, roomy apartment with its appurtenances. Between the kitchen and the hallway leading from Railroad street, is the main dining room, 181/2 by 40 feet in dimensions.

Over the office on the second floor is a large double parlor, communicating by sliding doors, and furnished in oak. Rooms 2 and 4 across the aisle, are the private sitting-room and bedroom of the proprietor. They are the finest and best located rooms in the house. A large bay window opens from them on the Main street front. Sliding doors divide the two apartments, which are richly furnished. A ladies toilet room and several bed rooms take up the remainder of this floor. The third and fourth floors are nearly identical consisting of sleeping apartments. At the rear of the hallway on each floor is a bathroom, provided with bath tub, closet and wash basin. A few are double rooms and contain two beds. All are of sufficient size and neatly furnished with bed room suites of maple and ash. There are 68 rooms in the entire house, of which 40 are sleeping apartments.

The building throughout is supplied with steam heating and electric lights. Each room connects with the office by the Hess electric return call system, put up by B. F. Shafer, of Bethlehem. Speaking tubes lead to all the apartments. In fact, nothing has been left undone to make the hotel the best equipped in the Valley.

From the upper stories and the cupola a beautiful bird's eye view of the borough and surrounding country can be obtained. Four counties are visible from the cupola--Lehigh, Carbon, Monroe and Northampton. The Lehigh Water Gap cleft in the Blue Mountains is also distinctly visible from the hotel.

At the formal opening on Thursday the handsome establishment was thronged continually with visitors, who passes through the halls and rooms, admiring the work and praising the enterprise of the proprietor and builder. The principal celebration was in the evening. Between the hours of 4 and 7 o-clock, pm., Mr. Bittner tendered his friends a complimentary supper, which was most excellently prepared and consisted of all the delicacies of the season. The tables were also prettily decorated with cut flowers. After supper dancing was indulged in by the many people present. Three orchestras were furnishing the music and dancing was carried on in the dining room, the reading room and the minor dining room. The festivities were kept up until a late hour and were the means of furnishing much genuine pleasure to all present. Thus came to a close the formal opening of the Bittner House, which is not only an ornament to which our citizens can point with pride, but it is a monument to the thrift, enterprise and industry of the proprietor.

Source: The Slatington News, 4 April 1888. A later description (PDF) of the Bittner House appeared in The Slatington News, 14 November 1891

May 1888: The Welshtown Branch Constructed

The Lehigh Valley Railroad Company on Monday morning with a large force of men, commenced the construction of a branch railroad through the Welshtown Valley. Kern’s dam is bridged with heavy trestling, which will later be replaced by an iron structure. The new branch will be nearly two miles in length and will open one of the most extensive slate fields in Pennsylvania. It will connect with the Trout Creek branch a short distance above the Main street bridge. The Welshtown Valley slate district is as yet in its infancy, but enough has been developed to demonstrate a larger body of slate than has yet been discovered in this section. The operators have long desired a branch road so as to put them on an equal footing with the slate producers along Trout Creek.

Source: The Slatington News, 30 May 1888