Built as a summer home for James Allen and his family in 1770, Trout Hall has also been part of a seminary, military academy, prep school and college. Built in the Georgian style, Trout Hall is the oldest home in Allentown and is now under the management of the Lehigh County Historical Society which uses it as a period and Revolutionary War Era museum. It stayed within the Allen family until it was sold to an outside interest in 1847. It was eventually purchased by the City of Allentown in 1908 and restored to its colonial status by 1918. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.
was the third son of wealthy Philadelphia merchant William Allen. William was also very much involved in
colonial politics, serving as the mayor of Philadelphia, city councilman and
provincial assemblyman, among other positions.
William eventually purchased 5,000 acres about 60 miles north of
Philadelphia in 1735 and laid out plans for a 42-block town that he called
Northampton Town. However, most took to
calling it Allen’s Town and it officially became known as Allentown in 1838. William then bequeathed the town and land to
his son, James, in 1767.
graduated college in 1759 and attended law school in London. He was elected common councilman in
Philadelphia in 1767 and later, assemblymen.
As a result, he spent most of his time in Philadelphia, but managed to
visit Allentown enough to warrant the construction of a summer home there. Trout Hall, named after his father’s hunting
lodge, was the result. The 2.5 -story,
stone structure featured a basement kitchen with walk-in fireplace, while its
first floor contained a living room or long hall, bedroom, and parlor, all with
fireplaces. The second story was
a Loyalist, died of TB in Philadelphia during the Revolution in 1778, two years prior
to the death of his father. After his
death, his wife, Elizabeth nee Lawrence, and their daughters utilized Trout
Hall and its surrounding 812 acres until 1789.
It was then left vacant until 1825.
In that year, Allen’s eldest daughter, Anne Penn Greenleaf, gave the
building and surrounding land to her daughter, Mary Allen Livingston, and it
was renamed The Livingston Manor. It was
sold in 1847 and sold again to the interests of the Allentown Seminary in
1848. It later became part of the
Allentown Collegiate and Military Academy and later, the original site of
Muhlenberg College. All three entities constructed
significant additions to Trout Hall. When
the college relocated, Trout Hall was leased to the Allentown Preparatory
School and was purchased by the city in 1908.
The prep school continued to occupy Trout Hall until 1915.
County Historical Society, founded in 1904, and the Daughters of the American Revolution
then lobbied the city to restore the hall back to its colonial status and
utilize it as a period museum. That
restoration took place from 1916-1918 when the later additions were removed and
Trout Hall took on its original appearance.
Today, it sits adjacent to the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum and serves
as an 18th century period museum.