Homes on Main Street in Lititz (1870)



When General John A. Sutter stepped from the train and got his first view of Lititz he must have been disappointed. What he saw were two large breweries, five hotels, many two-story homes being built on Broad and Front Streets and a park filled with gay, summer vacationers. There were many cigar factories and tobacco warehouses to be seen which indicated the main industry of the village. Was this the quaint old Moravian community he was told that still maintained much of the atmosphere of dignity and piety which were characteristic of its foun- ders? He had come here seeking the best private schools for his three grandchildren where they would be trained in culture and the arts and live in a wholesome community.

It was not until the General arrived at the Lititz Springs Hotel that he got his first glimpse of East Main Street. Here still remained a bit of the early America he loved with its north side having remained undisturbed for a hundred years. He soon found that Linden Hall Seminary would be the ideal school for Carmen and Anna Eliza and approved of its setting in an atmos- phere of piety although it is doubtful if he himself ever intended a church service.

After meeting Abram Beck and having John III enrolled at Audubon Villa, he gave some thought to a home of his own here. Fortunately he was able to secure the prize building lot in the village. The Springs Hotel had recently moved its stables from across the street to the rear of the Wabank House and it was on this plot that the General would build the most modern home in Lititz.

In a letter to his niece in Switzerland the old boy became a bit boastful in describing the home he and “auntie” had built. It was the first to have indoor bath facilities and had a modern stove “so built as to furnish both hot and cold water day and night in both the kitchen and the bath- room and the installation was very expensive”. He was also proud of the fact that his was the first house in Lititz to have large four pane windows. However he did concede that Becks home (Strobles) was more beautiful than his.

Fortunately a rare photograph in Sacramento shows exactly how this home looked before it was converted into a store. (Now in 1969, Trimbles and Kellers). There was an iron picket fence in front and to the rear was his beloved grove of peach trees. He had a clear view of the busy square and his nearest neighbor to the east was the Dr. Hull family (Armolds’s) – the son Harry later to marry his granddaughter Eliza.

Next to the Hull House was the stone home of John Henry Rauch built in 1775. He invented the improved auger bit with a starting tip that is in general use today. This house was later re- placed by Rudy’s Hall (Spacht’s).  When Sutter arrived it had become Enck’s Candy Shop.

Some old folks remember the tantalizing aromas that came from this shop except when the winds was from the north and thy got the odor of Geitner’s tannery next door.

If in the seventies (1870’s) the General would have had occasion to walk to Linden Hall some dark night (there were still no street lights), he would have passed the tobacco shop with its many perfumes used in making snuff. The Rauch Bakery (Reedy Building) would have had its own distinctive smell and then some of the residents had pig sites or goat pens which surely could not be ignored. The faint odor of hickory smoke would have told him he was passing the Mueller House with its attic smoke house, but when he finally sniffed the fragrance of freshly baked pretzels, he would have known he had reached his destination. Then again, there was the faint smell of the brewery in the next block and the pretzel smell might have made him a bit thirsty.

Whatever reputation the General gained in the past was now to be forgotten. He was no longer the sabre rattling imperialist of the west, but had become affable, fascinating, dynamic, and eminently and intensely human. His last nine years spent here in Lititz in the Seventies were most rewarding and he was respected by all.


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