The Lenhart building was sold to Betty Fella in 1946; photo courtesy of the Fella family.

In today’s column, Elizabeth Fella, who owned a photo studio on Fourth Street in Bethlehem, comes to Northampton with her four sons to purchase the Lenhart Studio on Main Street. The year is 1946. They wanted to know about Northampton and the area, so let’s join them and walk up Main Street. 

Northampton was a vibrant community with a population of approximately 9,500 residents. The business district attracted customers from Cementon, Egypt, Coplay, Catasauqua and the surrounding area. There were numerous manufacturing facilities. 

There were seven area cement companies providing employment: Universal Atlas, Lawrence, Whitehall, Coplay, Giant, Lehigh Ormrod and Keystone. 

The garment industry employed many of our neighbors. Do you remember Clyde Shirt Co., D&D Shirt Co., Penna Dress, Tama Manufacturing, Universal Pants, Lehigh River Mill, Frank Associates and Cross Country Clothes, which was organized by two young brothers from New York, Anthony and Ignatius Billera? Their first factory was on Main Street. 

Rite Aid on Main Street was then Radio Bros. Service Center. Other area businesses included Roth Brothers, the Roxy Theatre, Northampton Home Furniture, Rosenfield’s Hardware, Lerners Department Store, Coleman’s, Miller’s, J.J. Newberry 5&10 (the dollar store of today), M&N Medicine and Cement National Bank. 

The Fellas came to Northampton on a Friday night and were surprised to see the large number of shoppers on Main Street. The post-World War II era saw the Fellas open a second studio in Northampton. 

Mrs. Fella said, “I wonder if we can afford to purchase the property.” 

The purchase price was $15,000, a tidy sum in 1946. They were impressed by the location and the solid three-story structure at 1465 Main St. After careful consideration, they purchased the building. 

1908 deed from Samuel Laubach to the Lenharts; courtesy of the Fella family

Looking at the old deeds, they take us back to a faded chapter of local history. 

I hope this is interesting to our loyal readers. 

One deed is signed by Samuel Laubach, a member of a prominent family in Northampton history. The family roots go back to 1750. They owned large tracts of property, a coal yard, lumber yard and store, and organized Northampton Brewing Company. 

At the time, the land was in Allen Township. Northampton Borough was not incorporated until 1909.

A section of the present third ward of Northampton was named Laubachsville. 

The Northampton studio could now provide photography service to the Cement Belt. 

In two weeks, we will open the Northampton studio. See you there.  


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