Historic Point Pleasant, PA

FERN ISABEL COPPEDGE, (American 1883-1951)

The case made for inclusion of The Point Pleasant Historic District to The National Register

     The September 1989 submission (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/71997844) for inclusion into The National Register, made the case that the “linear” village of Point Pleasant, PA (30 acres) is historic through the detailing of it’s integrity, significance, context and age. Described as first “an 18th & 19th century commercial and transportation center and later a fishing and summer resort area in the late 19th and early 20th century.” The village was once two smaller (one in Tinicum Township and the other in Plumstead Township) that were separated by the Tohickon creek as it reached the Delaware River. The town merged into one that the submission described as having started as “a river and canal center, to local agricultural entrepot and summer resort.” 

     The submission defined a time period of its importance of being between 1820-1930. As of 1989, the submission showed that through this history of the growth and development of the village, it maintained the integrity of it’s “concentration of vernacular buildings” in both their “form & placement.” Despite a few buildings that either suffered non-contributing alterations, or where a few non-contributing buildings were added to the village ultimately, the submission showed that “little has changed since 1930” when the village experienced its last growth spurt.

     The submission detailed the village’s significance by listing grist & saw mills, one as early as 1820. Taverns on either side of the Tohickon in both the early Tinicum and Plumstead towns. The National Register listed Delaware River Canal system that runs along the village, the Ferry that once crossed the Delaware, a Canal Lock House (Lock #14), its four contributing Bridges that cross streams reaching the Delaware, the later Bridge that crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey, and that the fact 85% of its village buildings are contributing (vernacular design) where many used the local quarried argillite in their construction. 

     The submission placed the village as being set in a unique setting due to its immediate topography that served to be both scenic and set it as a critical connecting “intersection” of many water and roadways. There was also an “eddy” at its southern end that caused boats to stop and stay, used also as entertainment. The village was also placed in the greater context of it’s location in central Bucks County, and along the Delaware Canal and later between Easton & Philadelphia as it rested along the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad line. 

     Overall, the submission focused on the villages “early commerce potential that impacted later physical development of the surrounding area” (Bucks County) because, the village “connected the area’s agricultural raw materials with the good and services the river, canal, and later what the railroads provided.” 

      Finally, the submission bolstered its case with the use of many appendix pages; Topographic maps, Map of the Village’s borders marking all Buildings and Structures (contributing & non-contributing) Photos showing the Architectural details and the views in, out and around the village.

     Regarding “truth and significance” (Brown, “Managing”) as discussed by W. Brown Morton, the submission I feel maintained an honest assessment of the village’s buildings. Because, the submission made no attempt to alter the importance/significance of the architecture seen existing within the village. Instead, the submission described them as, “predominantly rural vernacular versions of late Georgian, Greek Revival or Italianate styles of the 19th century and the Bungalow style of the early 20th century.” And so, I learned that even though the individual buildings being described were not exemplar, and where only “some exhibited refined architectural details from their period of construction” and when the buildings, when taken as a whole, were further described as “rather mundane,” it is still possible to be granted acceptance into the National Register as a “Historic District.”

Work Cited:
Morton III, W. Brown. “Managing the Impact on Cultural Resources of Changing Concepts of Significance” in Michael A. Tomlan, ed. Preservation of What for Whom: A Critical Look at Historical Significance (Links to an external site.). Ithaca, N.Y.: National Council for Preservation Education, 1998. 143-148.