Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, May 21, 2018

Survey shows support for historic district

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 by KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS Special to The Press in Local News

Hokendauqua property owners favor moving forward with preservation

A recently completed survey of property owners in the proposed Hokendauqua historic district has revealed a majority supports the project.

In a report from Howard Lieberman, director of the Whitehall Township Economic Development Authority, 171 property owners within the residential neighborhood around the former Thomas Iron Works in Hokendauqua were sent surveys asking for feedback about the proposed district.

Lieberman said nearly 67 percent of respondents said they favored moving forward on the project.

“They were overwhelmingly in favor,” Lieberman said. “They saw the history in the area and want to maintain the integrity of the historic preservation of the area.”

The neighborhood includes approximately 100 factory homes built to serve the iron plant in the 1880s. The homes were primarily built as workers’ row homes but also include some Victorian mansions built for executives. The proposed district would include the area from Front Street to Third Street and from Quigg Street to Carbon Street.

Last year, the township board of commissioners talked about getting the area on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the survey, responding residents have lived in the area an average of 32 years. Lieberman said 36 percent of people said they heard about the proposed district from neighbors. He said the response rate was 21 percent, which he called “significant.”

The Thomas Iron Works was named for David Thomas, a Welsh ironmaker who came to the Lehigh Valley in 1839 to pioneer hot blast ironmaking in the region. He started his own company and built blast furnaces in Hokendauqua.

Lieberman said he hopes the project is ready for startup within a year.

According to township Commissioner Jeffrey Dutt, the project missed the March 1 deadline to apply for a grant, so the grant will be sought in 2019.

The Hokendauqua/Thomas Iron Works area would be the first historic preservation district in the township.