Franklin Tour

Self-guided Walking Tour of Historic Liberty & 13th Street

Franklin Tour

Franklin, Pennsylvania 16323, United States

Created By: Venango Tours

Tour Information

Franklin has developed a complex architectural heritage that is very evident and well documented. This fascinating period of cultural history occurred here in one of the most noted historic settlements in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The City's strategic location was the leading cause for this early activity. The first sixty-four years (1741-1805) was centered upon frontier trade and military enterprise involving French and English colonial interests and subsequent American permanent settlement.

A major portion of Franklin's architecture was erected during the late 19th and early 20th century. The rapid economic sophistication of the town caused a total transformation of its commercial, residential, industrial and institutional buildings. All of the period's architectural styles can be seen in some form in downtown Franklin - Gothic Revival, Victorian, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Tudor Revival, Italianate Stick and Romanesque. Highly varied, many of these buildings are associated with the region's most prominent and sometimes colorful people.

Funding for this project is provided through the Venango Center for Creative Development, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and private donations.

Contributing expertise in this endeavor are: The Venango County Historical Society; Historic Franklin Preservation Association; Franklin Public Library; Humanities Scholar, Bruce Clayton, Professor of History Emeritus, Sarasota, FL; Architectural Scholar, Thomas Jones, Historic Preservation Planner, Easton, PA; local historians, Dennis Armstrong, Carolee Michener and Sylvia Coast.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

The Rural House hotel once occupied this site but was destroyed by fire in 1891.  With the discovery of oil, Charles Miller developed the Galena Oil Works to specialize in a railroad lubricating oil. The present structure was built in 1901... Read more
This monument was erected and dedicated by residents of the county in September 1866. Faint inscriptions still remain of the 400 soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War. Several Civil War reunions were held in Franklin - including th... Read more
A symbol of Venango County, this our third building to be erected as a courthouse was designed by architects Sloan & Hutton of Philadelphia and constructed (1867-1869) by J. W. Brady, a local builder. The small tower was originally furn... Read more
This site once served as a pasture and as a training area for the militia. It was reported that men who were arrested for public drunkenness were frequently sentenced tot eh job of digging stumps. In 1852 a tree planting day was held in an ... Read more
Prior to 1860 dilapidated stands stood in this area called Rat Hole Row. The discovery of oil brought with it numerous trade and business centers requiring the substantial buildings that now line Liberty Street. This Italianate style build... Read more
In the early 1900s the Pastime Theatre was one of several motion picture houses in Franklin. This building with its whimsical facade was razed in 1913 to make way for the new Princess Theatre under the ownership of B.H. Printz. Mr. Printz l... Read more
Boyd N. Park opened his furniture and undertaking establishment here in the 1880s. Throughout the next 100 years the ownership changed but the name Park Furniture remained a focal point on Liberty Street until its closing in 1980. Moderniza... Read more
James B. Borland, writer and publisher in this area for 61 years, ran the Evening News Printing Company from this location in the early 1900s. Newsboys were dispensed throughout the city to announce the headlines and distribute papers. ...
Thomas Huling's boarding house stood on this site in the very early years of Franklin's settlement. Gradually the simple frame structures of our town gave way to sturdy architecture and well-developed city blocks. This building was damaged ... Read more
This 1872 Italianate style structure was severely damaged by fire in 1886. Shown here is a turn of the century view illustrating the Centre Block as the hub of the downtown business area. Over the years numerous business establishments were... Read more
This Italianate style building was erected in 1871. Mr. J. T. Campbell began his drygoods business at this location in 1875. The business remained in the Campbell family with Ralph W. Whitmer later becoming a partner and then owner until it... Read more
A beautiful ornate building once stood at this location and was known as the First National Bank. Established in 1863 it long served the community into the early 1920s.  Numerous tenants occupied this corner over the decades. The present s... Read more
An elaborate ornamented frieze and cornice crown this commercial Italianate structure. The block was erected in 1886 by John L. Mitchell, President of the Exchange Bank. In 1918 Jacob Sheasley purchased the building from the Mitchell estate... Read more
In 1866 John L. Hanna built the first three-story building in Venango County. Over the years it housed the Odd Fellows' Hall, Wilt Brothers photography studio, Venango Spectator (newspaper), an opera hall and the band room for the Silver Co... Read more
The Hotel Seanor was located on this corner in the latter 1800s. In 1897 B.D. McClure purchased the building spending the immense sum of $25,000 in renovations. The two-year remodeling project included a 34-foot bar of solid mahogany. In Ma... Read more
This is one of the very few Art-Deco buildings in Franklin. The Salvation Army building has been in use by this organization since the mid 1940s. Interesting details include a recessed entrance, wiht a stylized fan design and shield over th... Read more
This building was erected after a destructive fire in 1866 swept through Thirteenth Street. It is one of the oldest commercial sites in the business district. The first tenants were J. & R.H. Woodburn. Their store carried dry goods, not... Read more
Adjoining the Four Square Church is the property recently known as the Old Butler Wick building. Erected in 1873 this commercial structure was damaged by fire in March of 1985. Earlier tenants of this building were an American Express offic... Read more
In 1866 a fire destroyed early structures located at this location. In 1871 Rallya & Griffin opened a large stationer and bookstore on this corner. In the not too distant memory of area citizens is the stately Lamberton Bank building.... Read more
Very early in Franklin's development, this corner was of great importance to residents and travelers. In the 1820s John Lupher had a blacksmith shop here and William Bennett was the proprietor of a rooming establishment. The first hotel was... Read more
The cornerstone for this municipal building was laid on May 30, 1883. Within this structure were the city offices, police station, fire department and jail. This historic building was demolished during the "urban renewal era" of the 1960s. ... Read more
Adam Webber build this home in the 1840s. He was Franklin postmaster until his death in 1860. His widow, Sarah Smith Webber succeeded him as postmaster and turned the family home into a rooming house during the oil boom. Arriving in Frankli... Read more
For many years this structure was known as the A. Leach & Co. Grocery. Mr. Leach and his son continued with their business until the early 1930s when Boyd Stanley took ownership. The Boston Shoe Store was also a long-term merchant at th... Read more
Bearing his name on the capstone, Richard Callan erected this urban-vernacular building in the early 1900s. The family took up residence in the upper floor and the storefront below offered pharmaceuticals and a selection of liquors.
This structure was once a part of the Exchange Bank that was erected on the corner in 1872. The existing building survived the 1917 demolition of the front section of the old Exchange Bank. In 1982 Bob and Donna McMullen carefully restored ... Read more
This is one of the finest examples of the Beaux Arts style in the Oil Heritage Region. The first Exchange Bank was erected in 1872. In 1917 and in 1924 major reconstruction resulted in the substantial and impressive structure now known as t... Read more
The Orpheum Theater, a 'magnificent picture house' provided county residents with the latest in entertainment including vaudeville, short plays, musicals, silent and talking films. Built in 1916 this Neo-Colonial style building showcased th... Read more
1902 Advertisement: "The Commercial Hotel which S. Barrett has conducted successfully for 25 years holds its high place in the estimation of guests and the public generally. Forty-five desirable rooms accommodate lodgers, the menu is unsurp... Read more
German immigrants, Edward and Gertrude Bacharach opened a tobacco establishment on Liberty Street in the early 1860s. Thirty years later the family developed this site as a residence and retail store. In later years the Bacharach building h... Read more
This storefront is Franklin's finest Moderne style commercial facade, notice the paired bay windows capped by an ornamented cornice. Food hallmarks the longtime history of this building, George P. Kostolambros (Lambros) and Marcus G. Conomi... Read more
Charles W. Gearing erected this Neo-Colonial style building in 1906. Handsome stone string courses, corbel table with recessed panels on the cornice and the prominent keystones over the windows make this an attractive structure.  Around 19... Read more
Long before the arrival of the automobile, Thomas Moore and Son satisfied the needs of those on horseback. Mr. Moore's saddlery hardware business began in Franklin in 1841 and included an inventory of saddles, yokes, beef hides, sheep pelts... Read more
The Myrtle Lodge, oldest of the Masonic groups, was founded on February 21, 1858. Around the turn of the century the Lodge purchased this structure using the second and third floors for their many activities. Street level storefronts housed... Read more
Revitalization projects in the 1980s tried to rejuvenate some of the old-fashioned storefronts. Behind these modern facades are the possible remains of one of the oldest sites in the downtown area. It was here in the very early 1800s that W... Read more
This turn of the century building was erected in the 1880s for Samuel C.T. Dodd, a prominent Franklin attorney who drafted the Standard Oil Trust. James H. Osmer and sons later used the building for their law offices. For almost 60 years Je... Read more
Comprised of many Classic Revival details, this 1907 building was the location of the Franklin Trust Co. and the Franklin Post Office. News-Herald - Sept. 20, 1924 - "A new fire escape has been added to the building of the Franklin Trust Co... Read more
Built in 1878 for James Bleakley whose earliest years were devoted to the establishment of a local newspaper called the Democratic Arch. In 1864 he was instrumental in the development of the First National Bank and later the International B... Read more
The 1879 History of Venango County records that on this site Jacob Dubbs built a log structure where he lived and kept a store. Jacob's daughter, Elizabeth, was born in that cabin in 1823 and later married James Bleakley. In 1868 Bleakley e... Read more
In 1913-14 an open-air structure named the Park Theatre was located on this site. A roof was added later but in 1944 fire destroyed the building. The Kayton Entertainment Co. owned the site and by 1946 had rebuilt the movie theatre. By 1973... Read more
Major George McClelland, a noted military soldier who fought in the Mexican and Civil War was born here in 1819. By 1830 Edward Pearce was landlord of the 'Rising Sun'. Last known as the United States Hotel, John Wilkes Booth roomed and din... Read more
Benjaman's Roadhouse restaurant occupies a portion of the site once known as Plumer-Hancock Block. Arnold Plumer acquired this property in 1833 and in November of 1868 he opened this three-story "flat iron" building. Banks, grocery stores, ... Read more


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