Introduction

The building on the right is the American House with I. G. Miller’s horse sale and exchange at the back of the building. On the left is Jonathan B. Miller’s store which was a fully-stocked general store, with as many as 19 clerks in the three-story building. The borough’s “street light,” an electric light suspended above the street, is near Miller’s store. Note the cobblestone gutter in the lower right corner. (Photo – early 1900s era)

Compiled in 2007 by Bernville Heritage & Cultural Society.

At the beginning of this twenty-first century, Bernville’s Main Street is mostly residential, having gradually acquired this unassuming nature primarily during the latter half of the twentieth century. Yet, in its younger days, Main Street had a more dynamic character because many of the people who built their homes on Main Street also made their livelihoods here. Not long after those first homes were built, the Union Canal opened in 1828. The Union Canal’s Lock #36 was just south of Main Street. The canal was a tremendous benefit to those here on Main Street and to local farmers because everyone had convenient access to a larger market. The canal activity enabled several hotels and numerous businesses to take shape along Main Street. This walking tour describes these hotels and some of the businesses and personal dwellings, as well as their owners and their trades. Architectural details are not referenced, so examine the buildings, if you like, for unique features that make the exteriors attractive or distinctive.

Main Street is a long street with a very long history. In light of this, the walking tour—in order to be manageable for those who will walk its length—offers a brief insight into some of the people who originally lived on Main Street, and it profiles their better-known successors up to (roughly) the middle of the twentieth century. Please keep in mind as you walk along that the homes you see here have people living within them who are part of Main Street’s on-going history, and many individuals who live on Main Street (or who had lived here in recent years) have made contributions to Bernville. Their presence and efforts link them to those early Main Street residents whose lives and labors are retold here.