“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Ridgway in Elk County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Elk County Courthouse

Ridgway "Lily of the Valley"

Elk County Courthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, August 6, 2022
1. Elk County Courthouse Marker
In the early 1800s, ancient forests stretched unbroken across northwestern Pennsylvania. Jacob Ridgway of Philadelphia, one of the richest men in the United States, saw opportunity in the region's massive trees and clear-flowing rivers and purchased 100,000 acres of this land, newly deeded to the U.S. government by the Six Nations Indian tribes. In 1822, his land agent, James Gillis, founded Ridgway at the Montmorency Farm Site six and one-half miles from the present town site. Because Montmorency lacked adequate streams to operate mills and float goods to market, Gillis shifted the town of Ridgway to this river valley.

When Elk County was established in 1843, towns vied for the honor of becoming the county seat. Ridgway prevailed and, in 1845, constructed a wooden courthouse on this site. By 1879, Elk County had outgrown the wooden courthouse and sold it at public auction to Hugh McGeehan for $135.

A few months later, the cornerstone of the new courthouse was laid with great ceremony. Town fathers placed within it a copper box containing period newspapers, coins, and a poem commemorating the day. In 1880, the courthouse
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was completed, built of native sandstone and brick and roofed with tin and slate. The original half-ton steel bell still hangs in the bell tower.

Battle for County Seat
"Resolved, that we call on the representatives of the people in the Senate and House to respect the popular will and...procure forth with the removal of the county seat from its present improper location to the borough of St. Marys."

Not everyone liked the choice of Ridgway as county seat. In 1849, townspeople in St. Marys-eleven long miles east of Ridgway-petitioned to move the county seat to their town, prompting heated public debate. State legislators dismissed their appeal, and Ridgway remained the center of Elk County government.

Courthouse turned into Boarding House

When Hugh McGeehan bought the original County Courthouse, he moved the building down Main Street and incorporated it into the Bogert House, a new hotel he and P. F. Bogert were constructing. In 1905-at the peak of Ridgway's prosperity-McGeehan replaced the original boarding house with a four-story, 76-room hotel to which he again attached courthouse. The hotel's 150-seat dining room occupied the former courtroom. Fire destroyed the original courthouse building in 1990.

(Photo Captions):

Original Elk County Courthouse

Jacob Ridgway, 1768-1843

Elk County Courthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, August 6, 2022
2. Elk County Courthouse Marker
Elk County Courthouse is in the background.
Lyle Gillis, 1792-1881

Bogert Hotel Christmas Menu, 1907

All photos courtesy Elk County Historical Society
Erected by Stackpole-Hall Foundation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & PoliticsSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1822.
Location. 41° 25.302′ N, 78° 43.803′ W. Marker is in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, in Elk County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street (Pennsylvania Route 948) and Broad Street (U.S. 219), on the right when traveling east on Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 240 Main Street, Ridgway PA 15853, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Elk County (within shouting distance of this marker); Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Hyde Hotel (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Hall, Kaul, and Hyde Store (about 400 feet away); Ridgway Opera House (about 500 feet away); Calvin and Juliet McCauley Mansion (about 700 feet away); James Gallagher Home (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pioneer Cemetery (approx. 8.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ridgway.
Elk County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, August 6, 2022
3. Elk County Courthouse
Credits. This page was last revised on August 10, 2022. It was originally submitted on August 8, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. This page has been viewed 203 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 8, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 21, 2024