Thursday, November 5, 2015

Old postcards reveal cool places in Pennsylvania (some now gone)

One of the neat things about browsing through old postcards is that you can discover places that you had never heard of — even in your own state. And, before you know it, whoosh, you're down the rabbit hole of Googling things and adding destinations to your wish list of future travels.

First up is this undated (looks like 1960s) postcard of the McCormick Stone House, near tiny Smicksburg1 in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. This private residence is now more commonly called the John B. McCormick House, and it was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Here's the text from the back of the postcard, which was published by Modern-Ad of Butler, Pa.
"McCORMICK STONE HOUSE, Smicksburg, Pa. off Rt. 210; home of inventor of turbines used in early hydro-electric plants including Niagara and St. Petersburg, Russia; exhibit in Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Built by Judge Lewis in 1817. Once occupied by Jimmy Stewart family. Open to visitors May 30 to October 15."
Unfortunately, I don't believe the house is still open to visitors. But it's certainly there for you to drive past on Route 210. Furthermore, Indiana County is full of historic structures, covered bridges, beautiful scenery, Amish farms and shops, and other stuff that makes it a pretty great destination for a short getaway, if you're not too far from Indiana County.2

Up next is a historic Pennsylvania structure that you can only see in this image.

This is the Bradford Theatre in Bradford, Pennsylvania (along the northern edge of the state). It opened in 1903 and was razed in 1961 to — I kid you not — put up a parking lot.

Cinema Treasures has the best historical information on this building, which has been gone for more than a half-century. Here's an excerpt:
"The Bradford was for its first couple decades of operation, a venue for live performances, including legitimate theater, musicals, opera, and lectures. In 1922, the theater was taken over by Buffalo, New York-based Shea’s and renamed Shea’s Theatre. Along with movies, the theater continued to host live acts on stage, including appearances by such stars as Ethel Barrymore, Boris Karloff, Harry Blackstone, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Sally Rand."
This postcard, which has the name "Miss Rebecca Hill" written on the reverse side but was never mailed, was published by The American News Company, which had this nifty logo:

1. At the last census, the borough of Smicksburg had a population of 46.
2. I received no monies from the Indiana County Tourist Bureau for that paragraph, but I'm open to them sending me some.

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