Riegel Estate

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					                                 (Photos by Richard F. Hope)

Benjamin Riegel Mansion (44 North Second Street, now The Ritz at 44 Antiques).
       This 3-1/2 story “Jacobean Revival style”1 Flemish bond brickwork building has
red and blue bricks with white stone block trim; a pointed façade dormer; a large bay
window on 2nd floor; and ornate masonry trim over front door. Said (possibly
incorrectly) to have been the last building designed by famed architect Stanford White.2
          White, the designer of the 2nd Madison Square Garden (NY City) and other
           buildings, was later assassinated by a jealous husband (socialite Harry K.
           Thaw) in the Madison Square Roof Garden restaurant in 1906. The resulting
           murder case (and Thaw’s defense of insanity) was a notable scandal of the
           time.3
       This Mansion was built as a retirement home4 in 1902 by Benjamin Riegel, the
paper magnate who founded Riegelsville.5 Benjamin Riegel was the son of Riegel Paper
Co. founder John Leidy Riegel.6
          Benjamin Riegel also built the Howard Riegel Mansion at 214 Spring Garden
           St. Howard Riegel was Benjamin’s brother, who had little to do with the
           Riegel paper interests.7
        After Benjamin Riegel’s death in 1918, his wife Barbara continued in the house
until she died two years later.8 The Riegel estate sold the property to Easton Developers
and twins Leslie and Leslar Williams, who wanted to use it and surrounding properties
for their new Hotel Easton. They were unable to obtain one of the adjacent properties,9
and ultimately began building their premier hotel in 1925 at 140 Northampton St. They
                                                   2


sold the house to the Coffin family, who were followed by a “dairy business”. The
Republican Club of Easton occupied the building from 1930-60, and thereafter for forty
years it was the home of Lou Reda’s television production company.10


        Before the Riegel Mansion the property appears to have been substantially the
southern half of original town Lot No.67 as surveyed by William Parsons when Easton
was established in 1752. This Lot was formally sold by the Penn Family to Barbara
Hembt in 1800.11 The modern property was the home of cooper12 Abram Miller in
1873,13 then numbered 28 North 2nd Street under the numbering scheme in use at that
time.14 With the inauguration of the modern street numbering scheme in 1874, Miller’s
residence was assigned to 50 North 2nd Street.15
        The property continued with that number in 1880, by then the residence of dry
goods merchant Benjamin F. Riegel.16 It was apparently renumbered 44 North Second
Street by 1885, while in Riegel’s possession.17 Riegel was born in 1825, and participated
in a dry goods partnership with John Micke from 1850-63.18 Riegel continued in
business with various partners thereafter until 1895.19 He apparently sold the property to
the Benjamin Riegel of Riegelsville, who built the Riegel Mansion in 1902.


1
       Article, “On the Ritz, A Lavish Private Residence in Easton Is Beautifully Restored – and Open to
       the Public”, LEHIGH VALLEY MAGAZINE 65 (May/June 2004).
2
       Last Stanford White House; Dr. Elinor Warner, Easton, Pennsylvania Walking Tour, for
       Pennsylvania Art Education Association Conference 2000,
       http://www.kutztown.edu/paea/paeaconf/2000/easton/walk_tour.html (accessed 4 Jan. 2005). ;
       Scott Hill, A Self Guided Tour . . . Historic Forks of the Delaware 6 (Eagle Scout Project, 29 Apr.
       1992)(copies sold by NCH&GS); Bill Kulp, “Last Stanford White House Still Preserved in
       Easton”, SUNDAY CALL-CHRONICLE, Sunday, 6 Apr. 1969, at F-6.
       A study commissioned by the current owner was not able to confirm the Stanford White claim.
       Letter, Stuart W. Wells (Principal Historian, RetroSpecs) to Peter Koehler (Koehler-Kheel Realy),
       17 Nov. 2000.
       Easton developers and twins Leslie and Leslar Williams, who previously owned the building,
       credited the building’s architecture to Stanford White. Ben Kizer, “Crossroads”, THE EXPRESS-
       TIMES, 31 Oct. 1966, p.2. However Lance Metz, Historian at the National Canal Museum,
       suggests that researcher Stirling Mace first attributed the architecture to Stanford White in the
       1960s because of the similarities between this building and McKelvy House on College Hill,
       which is an acknowledged design by Stanford White’s firm. Article, “On the Ritz”, supra at 66.
3
       Yahoo Encyclopedia reference, education.yahoo.com/reference/encyclopedia/entry?id=50601.
4
       See George W. West, Directory of Easton, etc. 213 (Geo. W. West 1894)(alphabetical listing for
       B.F. Riegel (retired)).; Tom Hester, Jr., “The Riegel Family Is Omnipresent”, THE EXPRESS-
       TIMES, Sunday, 19 Jan. 1997, p.A-1 (“built by Benjamin Riegel after he quit managing the paper
       mills and moved to Easton”).
5
       Article, “On the Ritz”, supra, at 65; John M. Kozero, “Unsuspected Craftsmanship Graces House
       In Easton”, EASTON EXPRESS, Friday, 14 Feb. 1969, p.4. See also George W. West (compiler),
       Directory of Easton City [Etc.] Year 1906 237 (George W. West 1906)(Benjamin Riegel listed at
       44 North Fourth Street).
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     Prior to the present Riegel Mansion, the property appears to have been occupied by Catherine
     Miller in 1855, then numbered 28 North 2nd Street. C[harles] Kitchen, A General Directory of the
     Borough of Easton PA (Cole & Eichman’s Office, 1855)(alphabetical listing). A. Miller occupied
     it in 1874. D.G. Beers, Atlas of Northampton County Pennsylvania, Plan of Easton (A. Pomeroy
     & Co. 1874).
6
     Ben Kizer, “Crossroads”, THE EXPRESS-TIMES, 31 Oct. 1966, p.2.
7
     Tom Hester, Jr., “The Riegel Family Is Omnipresent”, THE EXPRESS-TIMES, Sunday, 19 Jan.
     1997, p.A-1; see also Ben Kizer, “Crossroads”, THE EXPRESS-TIMES, 31 Oct. 1966, p.2 (John
     Riegel had two sons, Benjamin and Howard).
8
     Article, “On the Ritz”, supra, at 68.
9
     Ben Kizer, “Crossroads”, THE EXPRESS-TIMES, 31 Oct. 1966, p.2.
10
     Article, “On the Ritz”, supra, at 65, 68; but see Ben Kizer, “Crossroads”, THE EXPRESS-TIMES, 31
     Oct. 1966, p.2 (bought by the Young Republican Club “During World War II”).
11
     Deed, John Penn and Richard Penn to Barbara Hembt, F2 347 (2 Apr. 1800)(sale price £for Lot
     No.67); A.D. Chidsey, Jr., The Penn Patents in the Forks of the Delaware Plan of Easton, Map 2
     (Vol. II of Publications of the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society 1937).
     This establishes that Lot No.71 was at the NW corner of Church and North 2 nd Streets, followed
     by Lot Nos.69 and 67, each of which had a frontage of 60’ on North 2 nd Street. The Northampton
     County Tax Records map, www.ncpub.org, shows 5 properties beginning at Church Street today
     with North 2nd Street frontages of 24’ (or 24.5’), for a total of 121’. That equals the frontage of
     original town Lot Nos.71 and 69. Then follows 44 North 2 nd Street, with a frontage of 30’ –
     apparently the southern half of original town Lot No.67.
12
     Jeremiah H. Lant, The Northampton County Directory for 1873 98 (1873)(cooper Abram Miller,
     house at 28 North 2nd Street).
13
      See D.G. Beers, Atlas of Northampton County Pennsylvania, Plan of Easton (A. Pomeroy & Co.
     1874)(A. Miller). This is the next property North of “Mrs. Swift” (and also South of the other
     “Mrs. Swift”). The evolution of address numbers for the John Swift Residence now listed at 42
     North 2nd Street is discussed in the separate www.WalkingEaston.com entry for that building.
14
     Jeremiah H. Lant, The Northampton County Directory for 1873 98 (1873).
15
     Article, “The New Numbers”, EASTON DAILY FREE PRESS, Sat., 28 Nov. 1873, p.3, col.4.
16
     1880 Census, Series T9, Roll 1161, p.381A (B.F. Rigel, age 54, dry goods merchant, with wife
     Anne M., 3 children, a sister, and a servant).
17
     W.M.R. Williamson (manager), Ferris Bros Northampton County Directory 36 (Wilmington (DE):
     Ferris Bros 1885)(Benjamin F. Riegel of Riegel & Tinsman, dry goods and notions, at 206
     Northampton Street, home at 44 North 2nd Street).
18
     See entry for 25 North Second Street: Micke & Riegel firm.
19
     John W. Jordan, Edgar Moore Green & George T. Ettinger, I Historic Homes and Institutions and
     Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of the Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania 192-93 (The Lewis
     Publishing Co. 1905, reprint by Higginson Book Co.); see also W.M.R. Williamson (manager),
     Ferris Bros Northampton County Directory 36 (Wilmington (DE): Ferris Bros 1885)(Benjamin F.
     Riegel of Riegel & Tinsman, dry goods and notions, at 206 Northampton Street, home at 44 North
     2nd Street); George W. West (compiler), West’s Guide to Easton, [Etc.] 121 (George W. West
     1887)(Benjamin F. Riegel of Riegel & Tinsman, dry goods and notions, at 206 Northampton
     Street);

				
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