|We now have a local history museum in Mansfield representing the area
in and near Mansfield including Sullivan, Rutland, Covington and more
Visit the History Center on Main Street at 83 North Main Street. We also have a locaton at 61 North Main Street.
Regular hours are noon to 3 T, W Th or by appointment.
by George A. Retan, Ph.D.
Pictures Collected by Chester P. Bailey
Published by The Council of Mansfield Borough 1956
Copyright Mansfield Advertiser 1957
Reprinted on Tri-Counties Site by permission of Chester P. Bailey, former owner of Mansfield Advertiser
During the period the Advertiser was published by W. A. Rowlands until May, 1885, when Frank E. VanKeuren bought it. Shortly afterwards, S. E. Coles was associated with Mr. VanKeuren, and this partnership lasted for many years.
This decade was notable for much building, both in the residence and business sections of the town. The Advertiser of Sept. 17, 1884 remarks that Mansfield industries furnish the brick, the ironwork, the casing for the windows as well as the lumber for all the building. The brick buildings at the corner of Center Street and Main Street, formerly four stores, were finished in 1884. Also in this year there was an addition to the Soldiers Orphan School, now 28 W. Wellsboro Street. Alumni Hall at the Normal School, O. Elliott’s Shoe Store, 54 N. Main Street, the Episcopal Chapel and sixteen new houses were built the same year. In 1885, the Kingsley Shoe Store, 21 N. Main Street and a new bridge over the river were finished. In 1886, the Kohler Hardware, 15 W. Wellsboro Street; in 1888 the Baptist Church, the Normal Gym, the Opera House and the old Borough Building were either started or finished. In 1889 South Hall at the Normal was enlarged and an addition built to the Adams Block, 24-30 N. Main Street.
This was the period in which agitation finally brought about the beginnings of fire protection, water supply and sewage disposal. A second Hose Company, the Neptune, was formed and the Council bought another engine and 300 feet of hose. Two cisterns on Main Street were connected up in such a way that the hose companies could use the water. More buckets were bought and with the completion of the Borough Building suitable space was available for the engines and hose, and an alarm bell was installed. Several studies were made of possible sources of water supply by engineers and councilmen. By the end of 1892 final action was almost at hand. A community owned system was believed out of the question because the assessed value of the Borough would not permit a bond issue of $45,000.00. A sewer was built, 1891, on Academy Street from in front of the Boys Building to Sullivan Street, down that street to main Street, north on Main to Elmira Street, and then west to the river.
The Normal School trustees contributed $2000.00 as its share and the remainder of the cost was paid by the Borough. In 1892 an addition was built on James Street from a point 125 feet south of Normal Avenue to Sullivan. Trouble on First Street and on Extension Street was met by partial sewers and open ditches.
The agitation for a water system was helped by the bad fires of the period. In 1884 several stores on S. Main Street south of the Pitts Block burned and the Mart King Furniture Factory was totally destroyed. In 1885 stores on Wellsboro Street west of the Pitts Block burned. In 1889 the Grand Central Hotel burned and several guests had narrow escapes from death. This hotel, one of the best in the county, was never rebuilt.
1889 was the year of the celebrated flood, which did much damage in Mansfield. The park was a lake and many houses in the southern part of town had water in the first floor. The new Iron Bridge over the river was washed out, but not the Corey Creek bridge. There were other floods in 1889 and 1890 which took out the temporary bridge over the river and the new abutments and again flooded the park. In 1891 a new bridge over Corey Creek at Main Street was built.
Some new streets were opened: Clinton Street, Academy from Elmira to Prospect, and Elm and Clark Streets which have been replaced by numbered streets. Doubling Street is now a part of Brooklyn Street; Wilson Avenue was named for James Wilson, who once owned considerable land in town. The Hollow Road, now No. 6, ran south from the river bridge to Ellen Run and then west along the run. Sassafras Alley was extended from Center Street to Wellsboro Street.
Mention was made of the new buildings at the Normal. In addition to these, the Alumni hall bell was bought and placed in the Tower in 1886 at a cost of $700.00. Dr. Thomas was principal until 1892 when Dr. Albro was hired. It has not been previously noted by any historian that the old Gym was built partly with State Aid obtained because of the demands of the "Normal Guards." This organization was trained by Prof. Longstreet. It had muskets and uniforms, a sort of unofficial R. O. T. C. and the Gym was considered by the State as an Armory and one end was fitted up for the guards.
Street lighting was a problem. Kerosene, Gasoline and Vapor lights were tried. From 80c to $1.00 a night was paid for care and lighting. With the expansion of building more lights were demanded by the citizens.
The Opera House was built east of the Borough Building and at the same time, with one wall in common, by the Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. This company formerly had social rooms over Kingsley’s Store. It was very active socialy and had an annual winter dinner and ball, to which many out of town guests came. Dinner was served at the Grand Central Hotel. When finished, the Opera House was used for dances, roller skating, home talent plays, and traveling play companies. In the front were small stores or offices. A fair held shortly after its completion, raised a considerable sum for the company.
For many years the main concern of the Council was for taxes and sidewalks. In 1884 the Court allowed a special levy of five mills to pay the debts of the Borough. Again in 1888, five mills was levied to pay off the bonds issued for building the Borough Building. Many ordinances were passed ordering sidewalks to be built and the Constable was frequently authorized to notify residents that if their walks were not repaired the Borough would do it and charge the expense to the property owner. Ordinances were again passed about a Pound for stray animals, hitching to a lamp post, riding bicycles on sidewalks, dumping refuse in the streets, drunkenness, firecrackers and playing ball in the street. In the new Borough Building there were placed iron cages for the confinement of any persons arrested in the Borough. At that time they wee the best in the county and were used until 1956 when they were removed to the new Borough Building.
During this decade a cigar factory was started at the corner of Elmira and N. Main Streets, but was soon moved to S. Main Street. This was a flourishing business for many years. In 1885 it was stated that three million cigars were sold and about $700.00 a week was paid out in wages. In 1892 a glove factory was bought and moved here; the Paisley Shawl factory was located in newly erected buildings at Englishtown (8th Street). The Novelty Works at Monroeton were purchased. These industries were secured by a newly organized Board of Trade which raised considerable capital from local residents. A. B. Welch installed a laundry on Elmira Street and Tomlinson took over the foundry on East Main Street. The history of these businesses is given in a later section.
The Mansfield Fair Association bought more land on the south and northeast sides of the Park, built a grandstand, a third mile track, more exhibition buildings and held each year a very successful fair. The attendance on Thursdays, the big day, was often estimated at from twenty to forty thousand. On one day over 1200 tickets were sold on the train coming from Blossburg. In 1892, electric lights were installed and a football game played in the evening.
A brick yard was started at Fifth and St. James Streets, but later moved north of Corey Creek and west of Extension Street. It was run by Barton and French and later by M. S. French alone. This yard turned out millions of bricks which were used in construction at the Normal, the Baptist Church, and stores in Mansfield and other towns where Mr. French had building contracts.
A band was organized by B. A. Strait and the community raised money for uniforms and instruments in 1891. Andrew Sherwood opened up the land south of Hope Cemetery and sold lots in 1887 (Now Prospect Cemetery). In 1889 the Oakwood Cemetery Association was formed and opened up Oakwood Cemetery and the first interment was made in 1891. Also, beginning in 1891, and for several years, the Post Office put up flags indicating the weather prediction. A Liberty Pole, carrying the U. S. Flag, was maintained at the corner of Main and Wellsboro Streets.
The Lawyers of the period were: J. W. Adams, F. W. Clark, B. J. Costley.
The Doctors were: J. M. Barden, W. D. Vedder, F. G. Elliott, C. V. Elliott.
The Dentist was O. Newell.
Transportation: Stages to Troy and to Wellsboro; two passenger trains a day to Elmira and Arnot