The Borough of Quakertown was originally settled as Richland and the Great Swamp by members of the Society of Friends in the early 18th century. It was part of William Penn's original land holdings, a 1,000 acre tract called the Manor of Richland.
As a crossroad village with a tavern, it soon became a stopover for stagecoaches and commercial traffic between Allentown and Philadelphia. Quakertown was the site of the Fries Rebellion in 1799, and was part of the Underground Railroad. Although it was the core of an extensive community of Welsh and German farmers, the village center remained quite small until the mid-nineteenth century.
A Railroad Community
By 1820, Quakertown contained approximately twelve dwellings. The construction of the North Pennsylvania Railroad (now the Reading Railroad) in 1855 spurred growth in the area.
By the late 1860's, an unincorporated village known as Richland Centre sprung up around the railroad station and by 1880 the town had a population of nearly 1,800 people. The combination of the railroad and national economic expansion following the Civil War changed Quakertown from a tiny village to a bustling commercial center. Local industry included the manufacture of cigars, boots, shoes, tools, harnesses, wheel spokes, and stoves.
Hiding the Liberty Bell
As the Revolutionary
War raged, the Liberty Bell found safe haven in Quakertown on its way to Allentown. In 1777, the Continental Congress had decreed that the bell be moved before the British melted it down for ammunition.
On September 18, 1777, six days after the Liberty Bell left Philadelphia, it was stored overnight behind Evan Foulke's house at Liberty Hall near the corner of Broad and Main Streets. The next day it continued on its journey to Allentown to be hidden for the remainder of the Revolutionary War.
A Place of National Significance
The Quakertown Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. Quakertown has a broad range of architectural styles including Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival and Italianate all built before the Civil War, and Victorian after the Civil War. The District has some buildings listed separately on the National Register such as Liberty Hall and the Enoch Roberts House.
[Photo captions, from top to bottom, read]
· Burgess Foulke House, 26 N. Main Street.
· Liberty Hall, 1235 W. Broad Street.
· Trolley House, 108 E. Broad Street.