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Historic walk highlights homes

A group of 30 people met Sept. 25 at Catasauqua Park and Playground, 501 American St., for a mile-and-a-half walk highlighting the waterways and historic mansions of the area.

Historic homes included those owned by David Thomas, D. George Dery, William W. McKee, Leonard Peckitt and more.

Lehigh Township Rails to Trails and the Bertsch-Hokendauqua-Catasauqua Watershed Association joined forces to host the event.

Nate Pritchard, watershed specialist for the Northampton County Conservation District, opened up the walk with a discussion on watersheds.

A watershed is a geographic area where rain or other water collects in a common outlet. Agricultural and industrial development both have an effect on the watershed since it can increase or decrease runoff into the stream.

PRESS PHOTOS BY CHRISTINA SANTO One of the stops on the Sept. 25 historic Catasauqua walk is the David Thomas house at 525 Second St. Thomas was known as the “father of the American anthracite iron industry” and built Crane Iron Works. The mansion, built in 1856, was later turned into 16 apartments. Larry and Cathy Mouer purchased the property in 1972 and currently maintain it.
D. George Dery's mansion, 520 Fifth St., was built around 1910. The mansion currently sits empty but was sold in 2017 to French restaurateur Herve Rousseau, who hopes to renovate and refurbish the mansion. Dery became the largest individual silk manufacturer and employed 10,000 workers across 42 silk mills.
This home on the corner of Fourth and Pine streets was built in 1891 and used to be the home of William W. McKee and his wife, Ruth. McKee was the president of the McKee, Fuller & Company, which manufactured railroad car wheels and axles. The McKee home is now apartments.
The Brubaker Funeral Home, 234 Walnut St., was originally owned by Leonard Peckitt. Peckitt became the president of Crane Iron Works in 1894, and in 1899, he was elected president of the newly created Empire Steel & Iron Company. The property was purchased in 1930 by Oliver S. Burkholder, who turned it into a funeral home.
Catasauqua Creek is part of the Bertsch-Hokendauqua-Catasauqua Watershed Association, which helped host the event.