In the 1800’s, Waverly (known as Abington Center until 1853) saw much growth and development in the form of infrastructure additions and the creation of many local businesses. In fact, due to a “building boom,” which took place in the 1840’s, Waverly rivaled Scranton as a small-scale industrial center. By the later half of the 1800’s, Waverly became home to a number of stores, including three general stores, as well as a hotel. Additionally, there were two blacksmith shops, a post office, a drug store, a farm machinery shop, and a tinsmith shop. The aforementioned name of Abington Center was bestowed upon Waverly in the early years due to its categorization as the trading center of the region. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of Waverly’s historic buildings, all of which made a considerable impact on society during that time period.
The Waverly Corner Store: The Waverly Corner Store was one of the oldest buildings in the town; it was the very first store of its kind in the area and was started by local residents Stephen Parker, John Stone, and Elder John Miller. This store was built in 1830 and stood on the northwest corner of the Philadelphia Great Bend Turnpike in the village.It operated as a general store for a number of years until it was converted into an office building for the architect engineering firm Von Storch, Evans, Scandale, and Burkavage many years later; it then became an antique shop and is now the Waverly General Store.
The Fell Schoolhouse: The Fell School was one of the earliest schools in the Abingtons; classes were conducted in a single schoolhouse modeled in Greek revival style. The schoolhouse was built in 1830 and remains a prominent historical landmark in the Northeastern Pennsylvania region due to its ties to the Underground Railroad Movement. When runaways began settling in Waverly, this building was used for the early services of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; prior to the permanent church’s erection along Carbondale Road, the Fell Schoolhouse on Main Street served as a place where congregation members held church services and also attended Sunday School. A gentleman by the name of Wanton Sherman helped to facilitate the idea of conducting Sunday School services at the location and his son Gilbert served as the instructor. In 1855, the official A.M.E Church was built along Carbondale Road, however the Fell Schoolhouse remains an important landmark in the region; it was renovated in 2017 and currently stands as a private residence.
Madison Academy: One of the most important sentiments of the village has always been education; the historic Madison Academy served as a testament to this notion. In 1844, a group of investors facilitated the creation of this co-ed institution which was a private school known for its rigorous curriculum. Families traveled throughout the state to visit and enroll their children in the school due to its outstanding reputation; many future judges, lawyers, and doctors attended the school during its years of operation. Tuition ranged from $2.00- $10.00 per quarter, with the neighborhood boarding house charge of $1.25 per week. The private school ceased operation in 1878 and was utilized as a public school; the building was damaged by a wind storm in 1896 and was later torn down. At that time, the site of what is now known as Waverly Elementary became the center school of the town, serving all grades. The Waverly Elementary School was later built and officially dedicated on September 22nd, 1996; the bell to Madison Academy stands behind the Elementary School as a testament to the early educational institution in the region.
Bliss’ Store: In 1848, Bliss’ Store was built in the village; it was run by two gentlemen named John Stone and Thomas Patterson. In addition to fulfilling the town’s needs as a general and dry goods store, a second floor was also furnished as a multipurpose location where many organizational meetings were held. Some of the organizations which assembled in the upstairs meeting hall were: the Odd Fellows Lodge (1847), Waverly Lodge of Masons (1856), George Fell GAR Post 307 (1883), and the Patriotic Sons of America (1890). The Waverly Post Office also served the community at this location for thirty-six years beginning in 1849.
The Waverly House: Village residents Dr. Andrew Bedford and Lemuel Stone formed a temperance company in the mid 1800’s; this company consisted of Bedford, Leonard Batchelor, John Fell, and John Stone. They later persuaded a local tavern owner by the name of Alvah Parker to sell his tavern for the creation of a temperance hotel. Bedford and Stone’s company later bought out Parker and this hotel was built on the southwest corner of Main Street and Clinton Street. When Abington Center became Waverly three years later, the building was named the Waverly House. It was operated with strict temperance guidelines and became a village landmark. Due to low profits it was later sold in 1856 and changed hands a number of times before it was eventually razed in 1919.
The aforementioned sites are simply a few of the historical landmarks in Waverly. In the early years of the village’s development, these locations served the community’s needs in the form of education and recreation. Presently, Waverly remains an educational and recreational hub with the addition of new businesses and of course, the Comm. The history of the village also remains as many of the significant sites are either still standing, or documented in educational materials.
Visit our website for more information on current efforts to highlight the history of our region such as the Abington Visitor’s Center and the Destination Freedom Walking Trail.