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An American Village

Discover Historic Boalsburg on Foot

Houses have historical markers. Access details on your cell phone: boalmuseum.com/walkingtour.html.

Pioneer Days: In 1804, David Boal, a Scottish-Irish pioneer, built a tavern at the frontier crossroads to serve pioneers going west. Andrew Stroup laid out Springfield village on October 9, 1808. On May 30, 1809, he sold 60 lots, 66 x 165 feet, for $11 each. A typical village of its time, houses were built close to the street, with porches that allowed neighbors to easily interact. The center square or “diamond” (A on map, where you are now) was originally used for markets and to turn around horses and wagons. Backyards contained gardens, small barns, chicken coops, ice houses, and other outbuildings for the self-sustaining villagers. Service alleys accessed the rear of the lots.

Boom Town: The first post office was established in 1920 and the village was renamed Boalsburg after David Boal. This “post town” had three taverns to serve travelers: David Boal’s 1804 tavern for the locals (B on East Main Street), the 1819 Boalsburg Tavern for the gentry (C on East Main Street, now Duffy’s), and the 1835 Augustus Wolfe Tavern, which catered to drovers (D on West Main Street). The village thrived from 1809 to 1858 as the home and workplace of tin smiths, wool weavers, hat makers, rifle smiths, wagon builders, and many other artisans, while Centre County was the center of America’s iron industry. When changes in technology shifted the iron industry westward, Boalsburg became the quaint and quiet home primarily of farmers and those who served them, including laborers, builders, and doctors.

In 1864, three ladies decorated two graves in the Boalsburg Cemetery (E): those of Amos Meyer, who died while serving with Boalsburg Company G of the 148th PA Volunteer Infantry; and of Dr. Reuben Hunter, who died while treating Civil War soldiers with yellow fever. The ladies’ honor to their kinsmen was the birth of our nation’s Memorial Day. The Cemetery is on North Church Street, a short walk from the square. The community has decorated graves every year since and, for the past 30 years, has mounted an annual Memorial Day Festival with food, music, crafts, rides for children, and a memorial service.

Investing in Education: David Boal’s son, Judge George Boal, was the founding president of the Centre County Agricultural Society in 1852 when they success-fully petitioned the Commonwealth to locate a Farmers’ High School in this area. Today that school is known as the Pennsylvania State University. Boalsburg was also the home of the Boalsburg Academy on Academy Street, later the Presby-terian Church and now the Lions Community Hall (F). During the early 20th century, the village gradually became a residence for people working at the growing Pennsylvania State College, while retaining its community identity.

Distinguished Military and International History: Boalsburg has a long military history, including the 148th Troop in the Civil War and the Boal Troop formed in 1916 by Colonel Theodore Davis Boal (1867-1938) on his land, which he later dedicated to the Commonwealth as the 28th Division Shrine. That shrine is now the site of the Commonwealth’s Pennsylvania Military Museum (G). (From the square, go north on North Church Street, left on Old Boalsburg Road¾between the two brick churches¾right at the Boal Mansion Museum gates, and cross Boal Avenue to the military museum entrance.) Colonel Boal’s wife, Mathilde, was a descendant of Christopher Columbus and in 1909 inherited and imported the centuries-old Columbus Chapel from Spain to the Boal Mansion (H).

Today’s Boalsburg offers a gracious welcome based on the enduring community design and culture established long ago and tempered by the test of time. Its shops, restaurants, schools, museums, and other cultural and historical elements come together to make a charming lifestyle and a great place to visit. Special community events take place on Memorial Day weekend, Columbus Day weekend, and Hometown Christmas weekend early in December. Check the town website for specific dates and events: www.boalsburgvillage.com.

Places to see and visit in Boalsburg: Three museums: the PA Military Museum (G), the Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion Museum (H), and the Boalsburg Heritage Museum (I). The village diamond (A). David Boal’s tavern (B) and Duffy’s Boalsburg Tavern (C). The Boalsburg Coach Factory (J), now the Harris Township offices. St. John’s United Church of Christ (K) and Zion Lutheran Church (L). The Boalsburg Cemetery (E) with the statue of the three ladies (M). Historical houses are marked on the outside. Brochures are below this sign.

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