History of Bellefonte Walking Tour
This walking tour of Bellefonte includes several museums and historic landmarks. The tour winds its way through this small Pennsylvania town and concludes at the Bellefonte Forge House.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Gamble Mill is a historic grist mill that was built in 1894 by a company called Gerberich, Hale & Co. It was constructed on the foundations of a mill destroyed by a fire. The mill earned its name from one of its shareholders, George Gamble, who purchased his share around 1901. Eventually, Gamble assumed ownership sometime before 1923. The mill stopped operating in 1947. For a time, the building housed a restaurant called the Gamble Mill Restaurant, which closed in 2015.
The town of Bellefonte (and Centre County generally) were built along and heavily influenced by the presence of the railroad infrastructure, which connected an otherwise rural area to the major cities and places of learning around the country. Yet today those railroads have receded to car traffic, and little attention is given to this older form of transportation. Thus the Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society was created to attempt to preserve and display the heritage of the railroads in Bellefonte. Twice a year, the society takes an excursion along the NBER in historical train cars.
The Miles-Humes house was originally built circa 1814-1816 for Captain Joseph Miles, the co-founder of both Milesburg, Pennsylvania and the Centre Furnace Iron Works. He sold the house in 1830 to William Wilson Potter and his wife, Lucy, who continued to reside in the house after William's death in 1839. She lived in the house alone until she convinced her niece, Lucy Alexander, and nephew-in-law, Edward Humes, to move in with her. The House now serves the Centre County Library & Historical Museum.
The Centre County Courthouse has been the seat of county government since 1805, when the first section of the building was completed. Typical of government buildings throughout the country in the 19th century, the courthouse was designed in the Greek Revival style, featuring a large portico with 6 Ionic columns. It was expanded several times over the course its history, the very last of which to occur in 1964. Its architect, Joseph M. Huston, also designed the State Capitol building in Harrisburg. In front of the building stands the Soldiers and Sailors War Memorial and the statue of Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin (c.1815-1894), who was governor during the Civil War through early 1867.
This beautiful building is one of Bellefonte's main landmarks, serving as a reminder to the city's growing prosperity in the 19th century and to the Victorian era. The building was constructed in 1866 by Henry Brockerhoff in the Italianate Revival style but was later renovated in the 1880s with Queen Anne style elements. It operated as a hotel before being converted into an assisted-living residence. Brockerhoff also owned a historic grist mill in Benner Township. Both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Bellefonte Academy once was an historic school that operated at this location from the early 1800s until the Great Depression. The beautiful limestone structure was later converted into an apartment building, home to numerous residents of the city until a fire destroyed 75% of the building in 2004. A leading private academy, the school educated more governors, judges, and senators that any other in Pennsylvania during the 19th century.
The Bellefonte Forge House, also known as the John Dunlop House, is located just south of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, in Spring Township, Centre County. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, due to its connection with prominent figures in the iron industry of the early 19th century and because of its domestic architecture influenced by the Federal style. It was built in 1803 by an ironmaster, John Dunlop, who lived there with his wife and four daughters until he was killed in an iron mine collapse in October 1814