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This Was Doylestown, 1956

A look back at Doylestown, 55 years ago this week.

Bucks voters approve voting machines -

Editor's note - In the presidential election of Nov. 6, 1956, Bucks County voters also approved a switch from paper ballots to voting machines. The county commissioners in December purchased the initial 265 lever-operated machines for $377,095, or $1,423 apiece. The mechanical machines, first used in the primary election of May 21, 1957, remained in use until replaced by computerized machines in the general election of Nov. 7, 2006.

The Bucks County Commissioners got the go-ahead sign from the voters Tuesday to purchase voting machines for the county. Unofficial returns show 46,331 votes for the machines and 16,610 opposed.

Doylestown borough cast 974 votes for voting machines and 703 against them. The First Ward voted 402 for and 303 against voting machines. The Second Ward rolled up 239 in favor and 183 against. The Third Ward, First Precinct chalked up 185 in favor and 142 against, and the same ward's Second Precinct voted 148 "yes" and 75 "no."

The voting machine question passed in 140 voting districts and was rejected in only eight, including Bedminster, Dublin, Newtown and portions of Buckingham, Hilltown and Plumstead. The heaviest vote in favor of voting machines was chalked up in Falls township, Upper Three, with 1,033 "yes" and 164 "no."

The results mean the County Commissioners will now take action on formulating plans to finance the purchase of machines, estimated to cost approximately $400,000.

The presidential contest [between Republican President Dwight Eisenhower and Democrat Adlai Stevenson], the referendum on voting machines and several bitterly fought races brought out exactly 88.3 percent of the registered voters in Bucks county.

It was a great day for the Bucks admirers of President Eisenhower, who won over Stevenson by 21,279 in the county. Four years ago, Eisenhower defeated Stevenson in Bucks by 16,452 votes.

 

Clemens tract sold to developer -

Doylestown is to have a new home development that will eventually represent the expenditure of $2,500,000 for the erection of 98 homes all ranging in the $25,000 bracket.

A developer has purchased a large portion of the historic Clemens tract in the south end of Doylestown opposite the Doylestown Country Club and between Green street and Main street (Route 611).

The tract, containing about 80 acres but not including the immediate frontage on Route 611, was sold by the owner, Charles Eldon Clemens, a member of Doylestown Borough Council, to "Clemens Farms, Inc.," headed by Richard Koelle, of Ferry road, Doylestown, as president, and Edward Backman, of Merion, an attorney, as a partner in the development.

The plans for the development of "Clemens Farms, Inc." have been approved by Doylestown Borough Council and other necessary agencies. Each home will have all types of utilities, including borough water and sewer, with modern finished streets. No lot will have less than 20,000 square feet, or about a half-acre.

Actual building of the first two homes will get under way within a week, and a third during the Winter. Others will get under way next Spring.

"We are delighted to be able to offer to the residents of Doylestown and other places, homes of a type to be built on such an attractive layout," said Parke M. Wetherill, Doylestown real estate broker, who will be the agent for the sale of the new homes.

The Clemens tract dates back to 1730, having originally been owned by George Clemens and purchased from Jeremiah Langhorne. Councilman Clemens is a direct descendant of the original owner. The Clemens homestead on the tract is one of the finest of all Bucks county homes.

 

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Fire destroys National Agricultural College gymnasium -

The annual "College Weekend" festivities at National Agricultural College [now ] were marred early Sunday morning when fire of undetermined origin destroyed the Loucheim Gymansium on the college campus.

The college president, James Work, could not estimate the loss, but said that it will cost $150,000 to erect a new gym and field house. At a meeting of the trustees of the college Sunday afternoon, the executive committee and President Work were directed to formulate plans to have a new building erected.

A barn dance had been held in the gymnasium Saturday evening but was over at midnight. The maintenance superintendent had checked the building at 12:20. The fire was discovered by Mrs. Donald Meyer, wife of the dean of the college, at 1:40 Sunday morning from their home 150 yards away.

Volunteer fire companies from Doylestown and Chalfont as well as the college fire department and 300 students at the college were on the scene, but the flames had gotten a big headway before the firemen could go into action. Firemen and students prevented the flames from spreading to the nearby Horticulture Building.

The gymnasium was erected in 1926, and since that time thousands of basketball games and other sports events, flower and horticulture shows have been staged there. The gymnasium was often used by the boys from nearby Tabor Home and by various Doylestown boys clubs.

President Work said that most of the National Aggies home basketball games have been rescheduled for the Central Bucks High School court, and that the college will now meet with the Central Bucks officials to see if practices can be held in the high school gymnasium.

 

Doylestown township faces student boom -

Doylestown Township School Board on Tuesday night reviewed subdivisions as approved by the Bucks County Planning Commission and found to their amazement that 593 lots have been approved since 1952.

This means there will be a potential 296 elementary pupils from these homes, 200 junior high pupils and 71 senior high schoolers.

It is recognized that some of these children are already in school, but the greatest number will come within the next five years. This will double the school population in the township in the next five to 10 years. [Township students attended Doylestown Township Elementary (now ) through sixth grade, and then went to Central Bucks High School for seventh through 12th grades.]

Grave concern was expressed by the directors to the fact that the state is so slow in approving school construction at the present. Every effort will be made to contact the various departments in Harrisburg, including Dr. Boehm's, to seek approval for building.

During October, every teacher in the elementary school had a meeting with parents. The parents met in the classrooms of their children. Teachers showed curriculum materials and textbooks and explained school regulations.

 

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Flower lover and historian dies at 81 -

Mrs. Anna Green Shoemaker, of West Court street, who devoted much of her life to cultural and educational projects and historical research, died suddenly on Saturday while on a visit to the home of her nephew, Robert H. Green, of Byberry avenue, Hatboro. She was 81.

A retired school teacher, Mrs. Shoemaker was one of the oldest living members of the Alumni Association of West Chester State Teachers College. Her husband was the late Harry J. Shoemaker, whom she married in 1909.

Her promotion of love and appreciation for Pennsylvania's wildflowers, for their protection and preservation, made her well-known throughout the Commonwealth. She was instrumental in planting the Dogwood Trail from Valley Forge to Washington Crossing Park in 1937.

Through her efforts as a charter member of the board of governors of the Flowers for the Flowerless Committee, and as a member of the Women's and Social Services boards of Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, the flowerless and sick of Philadelphia were provided with flowers for many years.

Mrs. Shoemaker was chairman of the Mercer Arboretum in Doylestown, formerly known as the Fonthill Sanctuary, and was one of the very early members of the Doylestown Nature Club.

In the historical field, she contributed much to local history and the archaeology of Bucks county, and compiled many volumes along that line. She was the author of "The Red Man Speaks," published in 1947, a very valuable addition to the collection of historical reference works dealing with Bucks county and the Delaware Valley.

The survivors are two brothers, Harvey S. Green, of Dublin, and J. Walter Green, of New Castle, Pa.; and one sister, Mrs. E. Burton Satterthwaite, of Jenkintown. The funeral service will be held Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock from the Doylestown Friends Meeting House, with interment in the Doylestown Cemetery.

 

700 attend concert at high school -

An audience of more than 700 gave rapt attention and spontaneous applause to the musicians of the Bucks County Symphony Orchestra at the fall concert at Central Bucks High School on Saturday night.

The two-hour concert, with its 68-member orchestra, delighted both those who were familiar with the group and those who came prepared for an amateur performance and stayed to appreciate a truly musical evening.

Guest pianist was Lee Luvisi, an 18-year-old musician who played "Paganini Variations" by Rachmaninoff. His runs and embellishments as well as his phrasing were excellent, and the middle phrase, one of the well-known interludes, was fresh and clear. The performance brought four curtain calls.

The orchestra, which has been giving concerts for several years, for their own pleasure and that of the audiences who love music, has a fairly complete group, but could use string basses. Oboe players would add something, particularly when one or more happened to be sick.

The musical group is supported by members who give of their time and money, even though they do not play instruments. Friends who are interested are urged to become contributory members if they would like the group to continue in the county.

 

From The Daily Intelligencer, Week of Nov. 4-10, 1956

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