Architectural Styles of the Ridgway Historic District
The architectural styles represented in the Ridgway Historic District include most of the design modes popular during the district’s long Period of Significance (c.1850-1952). The vast majority of the community’s vernacular settlement architecture was replaced by significantly more substantial architecture as the community matured. The district’s earliest extant buildings date from the second quarter of the nineteenth century and are Greek Revival and Italianate in style; these were followed by buildings built in the French Second Empire, Gothic, and Late Gothic Revival, Italian Villa, Romanesque Revival, Neo-Classical and Colonial Revival styles. The former Opera House/Strand Theater (209 Main Street) incorporated an Art Deco-style marquee, likely installed when the hall was converted for use as a movie house. Many buildings in the district are derived from no formal architectural style, but rather reflect the vernacular building traditions of this community throughout the Period of Significance. These vernacular buildings contribute significantly to the broad-based architectural character of the district as a whole. View examples of Ridgway's Architecture here.
The Ridgway Historic District retains historic and architectural integrity. The overall character of the district is intact. Some demolition has occurred in the business district and newer buildings, including banks and convenience stores, appear on corners which formerly contained historic commercial architecture. Alterations to buildings within the Ridgway Historic District include storefront renovations in the downtown area along with the application of non-historic siding and the installation of replacement windows in most portions of the district. Some homes reflect the removal of historic porches. These alterations are widely dispersed throughout the district and do not detract significantly from the ability of the nominated area to reflect its appearance throughout the Period of Significance. Viewed in its entirety, the Ridgway Historic District is an architecturally-cohesive residential and commercial area which is situated on a grid of streets in this rural north-central Pennsylvania small-town county seat.
Commercial architecture within the district includes nearly all of the contributing properties along Main and South Broad Streets. Among these areas, the Ridgway National Bank Building, the Elk County National Bank Building , the Schoening & Maginnis Block, the Mercer Bros. Building, and the corner property at 200-204 Main Street. Of the several hotels which were once within the district boundaries, only the Bogert Hotel survives, at 150 Main Street.
Political and governmental institutional architecture includes the 1879 Elk County Court House and Jail, designed and built by J. P. Marston, who was also responsible for the Warren County (Pennsylvania) Court House. Other governmental architecture includes the National Guard Armory (NR 12/22/89) and the 1917 United States Post Office.
The religious heritage of the district was responsible for several historic religious buildings, including the 1905 Grace Episcopal Church with its Tiffany glass windows, the 1903 Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, the Bethlehem Lutheran Church of 1915, the St. Leo Magnus Roman Catholic Church of 1942, and the 1913 First Evangelical Lutheran Church. The district’s earliest extant Roman Catholic Church building (c. 1868), served the Sacred Heart of Mary Parish and is at 443 East Main Street; along with its adjacent Rectory and later Convent, the church has been converted into a private residence. Religious educational heritage within the district is reflected in the St. Leo Magnus School of 1904.
Secular institutional design is reflected in the district in the 1905 Ridgway Y. M. C. A., the 1899-1900 Ridgway High School at 225 South Street, the 1904 Nurses’ Home of the Elk County Hospital, and the Centennial High School of 1924-1925. The Ridgway Free Library occupies the c. 1910 former W. E. Hall House on Center Street.
The formally-derived architecture of the Ridgway Historic District occurs concomitantly with vernacular local building traditions executed by unidentified carpenters and builders. These buildings are co-equal in importance with the more elite-styled architecture which characterizes much of the district.