FOOA Literary and Literacy Walking Tour
Literature and literacy have a rich history in Annville. As the Annville Free Library begins its expansion project, we dove into our archives and traced our town's bookish roots. Take this self-guided walking tour to learn about Annville's earliest schools, journalistic endeavours, and notable writers.
This literary and literacy walking tour is made possible by Friends of Old Annville, a volunteer-run nonprofit. Our mission is to promote historic preservation and develop an appreciation of the rich history of the town of Annville, PA. You can learn more about FOOA at https://www.fooa.org.
As you enjoy this walking tour of literary sites in Historic Annville, please do so safely by adhering to all rules of the road, using crosswalks and sidewalks, paying attention to traffic, protecting historical sites, and respecting private property.
Map of Stops on the Literary Walking Tour of Annville
Begin your tour at 101 S. White Oak St., Stop 1.
Stop 1: Jerusalem Church School
101 S. White Oak St.
Before 1834’s Free Public Schools Act, Pennsylvanian children’s educations were funded privately through the employ of tutors, private schools, or parochial schools. The education of Annville’s 19th century youth was no exception, and the town has quite a few examples of these precursors to our modern public school system.
This is the site of the Jerusalem Church School. The parochial Jerusalem Church School was open from 1804-1849 for the children of Jerusalem Church, a Lutheran and Reformed congregation founded in 1804.
Other historic schools in Annville include:
The Stroh School. Daniel Stroh founded and taught at a private school on the corner of Queen St. and Chestnut St. in the late 1700’s; his son did the same, moving the school to 29 S. Cherry St.
The Annville Academy. Established in 1834, Annville Academy was eventually sold to the United Brethren Church and became Lebanon Valley College. The original building no longer exists; it stood at LVC’s Bollinger Plaza. (Bollinger Plaza sits between Lebanon St. and E. Main St., just south of the Carnegie Building which you’ll visit on Stop 8.)
The Humberger School. Costing three cents a student per day, the 19th Century school was founded by German-speaking Annville residents, concerned that other area schools were foregoing German in favor of English.
The stone addition of 450 W. Main. This was the site of a subscription school in Annville. According to the PA Historical and Museum Commission’s survey, "Teaching was done in English, rather than Pennsylvania Dutch which proved unpopular and the school closed."
In 1845, the creation of public schools in Annville was put to a vote. A snowstorm changed the vote--and maybe the trajectory of Annville-- when farmers (who were opposed to public schooling) could not make the slog through the weather and could not vote. Otherwise outnumbered by the farmers, pro-public school townspeople carried the vote.
Walk north and take a right onto Main St. Walk to the intersection of E. Main St. and Poplar St. and arrive at Stop 2.
Stop 2: McClure’s Newspaper Carriers
Corner of East Main St. and Poplar St.
Managing the newspaper sales for Annville, Cleona, and Ft. Indiantown Gap during the mid-20th Century, John McClure hired teenagers to run paper routes out of his home and barn. While the FOOA Landmark records a recollection placing the home and barn here on the corner of East Main St. and Poplar St., McClure’s obituary puts it at 26 E. Main St.
Carriers memorized hundreds of their customers’ addresses and subscriptions and were responsible for assembly of the paper sections, which would start their days at 5 AM with delivery beginning at 6 AM. During the weekdays, the carriers would deliver The Lebanon Daily News; on Sundays, deliveries also included the Philadelphia Inquirer and Bulletin, the Pittsburgh Post, the Harrisburg Patriot, the Baltimore Sun, the New York Times, the New York News, and the New York Herald Tribune.
In addition to local deliveries to Annville and Cleona, McClure would drive paperboys to Ft. Indiantown Gap where they would sell to soldiers being housed in the barracks. Robert M. Swope, a McClure paperboy of the 1950s remembers, “After selling my papers, I talked to the soldiers and listened to their experiences and their plans.They treated me like their younger brother. I learned a lot about life, and the world outside of Annville.”
Continue walking east on E. Main St. for three blocks and arrive at Stop 3.
Stop 3: Annville Free Library
216 E Main St.
The Annville Free Library traces its roots to eight Annville women, led by visionary Lillie Struble who in the late 1930s began a children’s book club with 125 books.Those books moved from the Struble’s Ulrich St. home to a gift shop on Main St., to John McClure’s basement, to the Annville Water Company Building, and then to a barber shop. In 1950, the library (now with a book count of 5,541) found its permanent home here on East Main St.
The Annville Free Library is part of the Lebanon County Library System and is currently in an expansion phase. Its massive building and renovation project is underway in order to better serve the community in the 21st Century while still retaining the historic aesthetic and feel of downtown Annville. Those interested in supporting the Annville Free Library can join the Friends of the Annville Free Library at https://annville.lclibs.org/give/friends-of-the-library/
Continue walking east on E. Main St. until you come to the intersection of E. Main St. and Saylor St. Cross E. Main St. to the north side of the street and walk west on E. Main St. to Stop 4.
Stop 4: Childhood Home of Monica Byrne
515 East Main St.
Monica Byrne, a noted novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, grew up in this Annville house during the 1980’s and 90’s. Bryne’s first novel, The Girl in the Road, won the 2015 James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Her second novel, The Actual Star was released September 2021. In an essay for FOOA’s Landmark, she writes:
“Novelists often write because they want to make sense of their lives. That is certainly the case for this new book, tentatively titled Ordinary Time. I’m planning to come back to Annville at different parts of the year. I hope to stay at Patriot House, which would become the model for the bed-and-breakfast in my novel. I’ll take long walks and lots of notes. I’ll outline on the porch at dusk. No matter how far I’ve traveled in the world, I keep coming back to Annville—my holy ground, my urlandscape of limestone and grass.”
Monica Byrne joins a distinguished list of authors to have called Annville “home”, including:
Edna Carmean: Her well-known book, The Blue Eyed Six, tells the true story of a group of Lebanon County men who killed another for insurance money and the subsequent sensationalized murder trial.
Dr. Arthur Ford: Dr. Ford’s work includes nearly 20 published works in fiction, non-fiction, plays, librettos, poetry and short stories.
Dr. Paul A. W. Wallace: The long-time chair of LVC’s English Department is a noted historian and author whose work often focused on colonial race relations in Central Pennsylvania. His books include Conrad Weiser, 1696-1760, Friend of Colonist and Mohawk and Pennsylvania, Seed of a Nation.
Continue walking west on E. Main St. to the intersection of E. Main St. and Grant St. The 400 Block of E. Main St. is Stop 5.
Stop 5: Rev. William Shaud’s Home
400 block of E. Main St.
What is a small town without a local poet? Annville has had quite a few, including poets Dr. Phillip Billings and Debbie R. Myers. In the 1950s, Lutheran pastor Rev. William L. Shaud wrote about his childhood memories of Annville and the Great Depression. Seven of his poems are available through FOOA’s digital archives and two are available in past issues of The Landmark at fooa.org.
Stand here on the 400 block of E. Main St. and imagine Rev. Shaud’s world in the 1930s while reading this excerpt from his poem “The Homeless, 1930’s Style”:
“Could you help me with something to eat?” they would ask.
In our apple tree’s shade they would wait.
Their bounty was often a cup of hot Postum,
An egg sandwich, a banana, and crumb cake.
Not one failed to say ‘thank you’, in tones most sincere,
And one ‘regular’ always went further.
“Preacher George” often gave us a brief, moving homily,
Giving ‘praise for all things’ to the Father.
The pains of the thirties are dim in the memory,
But I’m glad I was there to be witness.
From my parents’ ready kindness, lessons never forgotten.
Share your bounty with your neighbor in distress!
Continue walking west on E. Main St. to Stop 6.
Stop 6: The Annville Journal
215 E. Main St.
The second half of the 19th Century was a golden era of newspapers in Annville. Between 1887 and 1938, four newspapers were published at various times by different publishers.
While the building housing The Annville Journal was demolished to make way for the Union Hose Fire Co. in the 1970s, this site is where Joseph Kreider established the weekly publication. Boasting that it was “independent in politics,” it was printed and distributed every Saturday from 1887 to 1938 by the Annville Publishing Co. It has the distinction of being the longest running newspaper in Annville.
The Library of Congress catalogs three other historic Annville newspapers:
The Annville Gazette was published weekly between 1878 and 1884 by G.A. Fleming.
Running from 1874 to 1876, The Annville Record (also known as The Annville Record and Lebanon Valley Standard) was published weekly by C.M. Bowman & Co.
Lasting just one year (1895-1896), Ira W. Kline’s The New Era was also a weekly paper.
This was also the site of literary activities beyond the journalistic. During its lifetime, the building that stood here at 215 E. Main St. also housed Harnish and Smith Bookstore, Spissard’s Bookstore, and David Baseshore’s Bookstore.
Turn right onto College Ave. and walk north for 2 ½ blocks to reach Stop 7.
Stop 7: The Lorenz House
112 N. College Ave.
Designed and built in 1888 by LVC’s fourth president, the Lorenz House is a restored Queen Anne-style Victorian home. Edmund Lorenz served the college from 1887 to 1889 and lived here with his wife. During his tenure, Lorenz established The College Forum, LVC’s first student-run publication which cost 25 cents for an annual subscription. Proceeding from The College Forum, other student publications over the years include The Quad, The Crucible, College News, and The Forum.
Stepping down as president during a debilitating illness, Lorenz continued publishing, although this time, it wasn’t student news. He compiled and published a hymnal with United Brethren Publishing House, then created the Lorenz Publishing Company which originally printed a subscription magazine, The Organist. Now more than a century old, the organization continues to expand, releasing and distributing sacred and secular music and other publications worldwide.
Cross College Ave. and walk south. Stop 8 is on the corner of Lebanon Ave. and College Ave.
Stop 8: The Carnegie Library
101 N. College Avenue
Before having a centralized library, students created groups, pooled their resources, and shared their books. By 1875, Lebanon Valley College had a library boasting 600 books made up of large book donations from student literary societies.
In fact, these literary societies were some of the first student organizations on campus. The Philokosmian Literary Society (created in 1867) and the Kalozetean Literary Society (created in 1877) were both men-only clubs. The Clionian Literary Society, founded in 1873, was for women students.
Completed in 1905, Carnegie Library was the project of President Rev. Dr. Hervin U. Roop with financial support from industrial baron Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie’s $20,000 gift to the library is equal to roughly $612,000 today.
The architect for the Carnegie Library, Albert Richter, was born in Annville and based his professional life out of Reading. No longer a library, the building is now used for administrative and financial aid offices.
For that reason, it is also appropriate to pause here and honor the legacy of Alfred Tennyson Sumner, LVC’s first student of color and namesake of an undergraduate scholarship at the college. Born in West Africa, Sumner participated in literary pursuits as a member of the Philokosmian Literary Society and an associate for the student publication The College Forum. He graduated in 1902 and returned to what is now Sierra Leone where he continued writing and published “grammars of the Mende, Sherbo, and Temne languages.”
Turn right onto Lebanon Ave. and walk west for half a block to arrive at Stop 9.
Stop 9: Vernon and Doris Bishop Library
101 College Ave.
Built on the site of the Gossard Library, the Vernon and Doris Bishop Library opened in 1995 and then was renovated in 2016. Vernon is a local entrepreneurial legend in the Lebanon Valley. After serving in the US Navy during WWII, he made his way to Lebanon County and founded the very successful Lebanon Chemical Corporation, known today as Lebanon Seaboard Corporation. He and Doris were married for 55 years and were major donors through the Bishop Foundation to area charities including LVC, the Good Samaritan Hospital, and the United Way.
Love learning about local history? Join Friends of Old Annville as a contributing member and help us celebrate and preserve Annville’s historic gems. Become a member or donate to FOOA at https://www.fooa.org.
The Landmark, September/October 2019 edition
The Landmark, September/October 2014 edition
The Landmark, January/February 2013 edition
The Landmark, March/April 2012 edition
The Landmark, May/June 2012 edition
The Landmark, September/October 2009 edition
The Landmark, July/August 2009 edition
The Landmark, November/December 2014