Something Incredible Just Happened…

1st download 3949Click Photo to Enlarge

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was contacted by a woman named Anne Sullivan, who had unearthed a cache of great Manville photos, which at the time I had not yet seen. Today I got a flash drive in the mail. It includes 789 photos from 1938-39. They are incredible. There is definitely a narrative behind the photos, and as soon as I figure out what it is I will explain it.

Meanwhile, I am going to be slowly rolling out the photos on this blog. They revolve around a family or a group of friends. I am going to need lots of help sorting out who the people are. Hell, who knows… one of em might even be you. Whoever took these was obviously a hell raiser, well to do, a passioned cyclist, and had a pretty sweet eye for photography and capturing emotion. If you know anyone in the photos please comment or contact me.

Out of the batch I’d say at least 60% of them are in the actual town of Manville. I’m actually not familiar with the person/place pictured above, so I’d just like to start with a mystery… can anyone identify the guy/place in the photo at the top of the page?

And just for good measure, here is a great, albeit damaged photo of the Manville Movie Theater…


Thanks Anne for sending these. I’m very sure everyone will appreciate these photos… Manvillians past and present… wait until you see these.

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First Manville Band in Action

Manville-Band-2First Manville Band • Click Photo to Enlarge

Well if you’ve been paying attention to this blog awhile you know that awhile back, I found a great old professional photo of The First Manville Band. You can click that link to see the old post, which is complete with names. This version though is pretty amazing, because THIS photo of the Manville Band is of an earlier incarnation. I know this for 2 reasons. The first being that  they don’t have a uniform yet… and second, the band is a lot smaller in this photo. This photo was submitted by Rich Hamernik, whos grandfather Pat was actually in the band. He gave me these along with a couple of old Manville Royals baseball photos, which date back to the mid20′s, so I imagine this photo is circa the same time, and  possibly on the same day.

I’m still trying to sort out the location of this… but on a side note, the typography on that bass drum is phenomenal.

Reflections of Manville

Hey everyone, it’s been awhile since i’ve made a post on here. I want to continue with the great video clip segments, since folks seem to be enjoying them. I’ve mentioned in the previous posts that we owe a tremendous thanks to Gary Carmon for not only uncovering these, but spending his time and money to rescue them from obscurity.  The following clips are from a program called “Reflections of Manville” It’s a show I’ve been hearing about for a few years now, but was unable to see it until today. This is an incredible & formerly lost history of Manville. Great, great stuff. As always I’d love to hear feedback/memories etc.




Vintage Manville Films

Hello folks, I noticed a lot of new subscribers on this blog, that’s awesome. Thank you. This new post is another great one for the video category. My buddy Gary Carmon, who also does a great website on the Carmon / Sandusky families has turned up some old Manville footage on VHS. Thankfully he put up the time and money to convert these to digital format and has begun to edit them. So here we have the first two, which Gary has graciously encouraged me to share on this site.

This fist video we believe is on Petey’s Bar, but cannot confirm. The first minute or so of the video is pretty shaky, but settles into a nice clear depiction of what Manville does best… have a lot of fun. I do not know the date on this either. If you can verify that this is in fact Petey’s, or if you are in or can identify anyone in the film please leave a comment and let us know.

The next film is of the Manville Fire Dept. If you are in, or can identify anyone in the film, please leave a comment.

Gary has also posted some photos from Neal Ranauro’s collection that are not shown on this blog. Please check out his website, especially if you have any info pertaining to the Carmon / Sandusky families. Thanks Gary for sharing these videos, and for spending the time and money to make these videos available to the public.

Manville buildings 1969-1970

The Elmcrest Inn, Feb. 1969 • Click to Enlarge

Hey everyone. So it’s been a busy few weeks for me, but I finally got around to scanning this envelope full of Manville photo slides that were recently unearthed from an old dusty cabinet in the Somerset County Historical Society. It was pretty frustrating trying to get nice scans of these, but after much rigging I got clean prints and the fruits were pretty amazing. First of all you can see above I got a nice transfer of that Elmcrest Inn photo… which I’m probably most excited about out of the bunch. Here are the other good ones… these will all enlarge a bit if you click on them. The second scan is another Manville favorite place which still exists. The Chester House.

This one is sort of a bad photo, and a little blurry, but people ask me about it alot. And it’s really the first good color photo on this site of The Polish Home. The polish home is also a defunct Manville building, which was located right across from Roosevelt School.

Just got an update on the following building from Antoinette (Rogalski) Vinciguerra! She says…  “The house was over 200 years old when it was demolished, a very sad day for my family. My grandparents Joseph and Loretta Rogalski, moved to the US from Poland and purchased that house which was also a place of business known as the Roadhouse. It was also larger than in the picture. One third of it burnt down in a fire. The Roadhouse was a happening place from what I hear back in its day. It had ballrooms, a saloon and was an inn. The front side of it, not pictured, had a large wooden porch with several large columns. It also had a stepping stone in front of the porch which was used by stage coaches.”

This next one caught me really off guard, and I feel so dumb for never paying attention to this, despite seeing it so many times in my life. I always heard that Camplain Rd. was so named “Camp Lane” because it literally was the campsite of the Continental Army. It’s a little hard to read in the photo, but this sign that sits right outside of Classical Glass on Camplain Rd. reads.. “Encampment area for Pennsylvania troops of the Continental Army from about December 15, 1778 until June 1, 1779.” If anyone in Manville tries telling you nothing ever happened in Manville you bring em here.

Ok. this next one is another mystery house, although it is entitled “The Fiero House” taken Feb. 1969. I’m not sure if this still exists or what the signifigance is but here is a photo.

And last, but most definitely not least is this great photo of the Main Street School (formerly located at the site of the Main St. parking lot). A lot of folks on here attended this school, and I know it’s been a fan favorite on here. The is pretty much the best color photo I’ve seen of this place yet.

I’m not sure who took these photos, so I cannot give a proper credit. If you took them let me know and I’ll be sure to get your name on them. Also, a huge thanks to the Somerset County Historical Society for trusting me with these slides, thinking of me when they were unearthed, and inducting me a trustee. If anyone out there is interested in getting involved with the society, we are looking for fresh faces & ideas. Please get in touch!

Oh, one last thing before I leave you alone. I’ve been talking to some great older folk who keep telling me about some friends around town that have these incredible photo archives, who would be dying to show them off. If you are one of these people, please get in touch with me I would LOVE to come hang out, have about 10 cups of coffee and chat about Manville… AND see some great photos. If you would like to share photos on here as well please get in touch with me. I will credit everyone, I have all kinds of digital archive technologies, and I would be happy to print extra copies or provide you with the digital versions of your photos on a disk. Please help preserve the history of this town. Also, I have specifically heard the name Smolinka as a person who has a great archive of photos. If anyone knows them or anyone else with photos please communicate to them about this site. I know a lot of older folk don’t like to, or are unable to use computers, which pretty much cuts my lines of communication to them. Thank you.

The Elmcrest Inn

The Elmcrest Inn • Click Photo to Enlarge

Well two fun things happened today. One, I was officially inducted as a Somerset County Historical Society trustee. The other thing happened right after, when another member of the society opened up a dusty old cabinet revealing a shoebox full of photo slides, including some 1969 shots of Manville. “I think there might be some stuff in here you’d be interested in” Being Ill equipped at home to handle any decent slide scans, I still couldn’t console my urge to post up this one great shot of The Elmcrest Inn, so I went ahead and popped in my crappy flatbed scanner. There will be more of these to come, and I wont even have to use any fancy Iphone filters to make em look old and scratchy. For now though you’ll just have to settle for this one great photo of one of my favorite defunct Manville establishments.



Joe Patero’s Manville Memos • “Liberty Hall”

Dan Nebb

Manville Memos was a great column that appeared weekly in The Manville News in the 80′s. They were written by Joe Patero after some of his interviews with folks from around town. This particular one from 1983, is part 2 of a three part interview with Dan Nebb who’s parent’s owned Capt. Frederick Davey’s old Manville estate, which later became The Elmcrest Inn. If you missed part one you can click here.

Dan Nebbs • Part 2 of 3 • “Liberty Hall”

An old building used to be on the east side of South Main Street. Now there is a bank there, but Dan Nebb, the son of the builder of that old building remembers it vividly.

“Liberty Hall was located to the rear of the present site of the Manville Savings and Loan on South Main Street. My father, Louis, built Liberty Hall in 1922 at a cost of $4,700. There were no zoning ordinances or building permits in those days. You merely built anything you wanted, anyplace you wanted,” said Dan Nebb from his present day home in Middlesex.

“It was really not well built because much of the lumber was greatly undersized. It had a ceiling that was 16 feet high and trusses that spanned over 20 feet. It had a raised stage area, ticket booth and a maple floor for dancing. The exterior sides each had four large windows and two doors. At maximum capacity it would hold 1,000 people. It had no indoor plumbing and the only facilities available was a two seater outhouse.

“But,” Dan Nebb continued, “in it’s heyday, it was without question, the center of all social life in Manville.”

Much of it’s sucess was attributed to Prohibition. All the taverns were closed and you couldn’t go to them to drink and dance because it was against the law. The only place for a get together of any size was at Liberty Hall.

“My father would charge between $30 and $35 to rent the hall for a function. That was, all things considered, a lot of money in the late 20’s. But, it was booked every Saturday night as well as an occasional Friday or Sunday for a dance, wedding or party.

“The stage was used by politicians running for office who held rallies. However, more often it was used by various ethnic groups like the Polish, Ukranians or Hungarians who would present ‘Folk plays’ which were demonstrations of each nationality’s culture and heritage.

“There was an extremely popular group named, ‘Allie Maiden and His Jazz Band’ which played at least once a month at Liberty Hall. It was amazing to see the place packed to the ceiling with people who loved the music but had a very limited knowledge of English.”

Dan served as the clean-up man whose function was to make Liberty Hall available for the next event.

“They used to have a Grape Festival there every September sponsored by the Hungarians. Wires would be strung at a height of seven feet throughout the ceiling, and bunches of ripe grapes would dangle from them. Designated persons would dress up as policemen. You would dance with you partner and the object of the whole festival was to jump up and grab some of the grapes off the wires without being spotted. If you were unlucky and got caught, the police ”arrested” you and your partner and marched you off to “jail” where you had to pay a fine.

“the next morning was a tremendous job trying to get the grape stains out of the floor.

”In 1932 Roosevelt became president and soon prohibition was repealed. The taverns reopened and people resumed their old patterns of drinking and dancing. This was the death blow to Liberty Hall and soon it lost its popularity.”

Dan changed the function of the building to a furniture store which lasted for several more years. In 1964, Nebb sold the building which was thereafter demolished, thus ended a glamorous era in Manville.

But, legends do not die so easily. “I took the famous chandelier that hung in Liberty Hall with me when sold,” said Dan.

“Even today, I can see hundreds of people laughing, singing and dancing in Manville over 60 years ago, as if it were a Saturday night.”

Manville High… Rock & Roll High School.

Hermans Hermits fleeing the stage. Click to Enlarge.

Very few youngsters are aware of Manvilles early contributions to rock & roll. Being a music nerd myself,  I had a hard time wrapping my head around how awesome this era was. Sadly I was too young to participate. The main story everyone knows about is when Hermans Hermits showed up to play the Manville High School gym on April 1st, 1965 and couldn’t even get off a note due to the 2000 screaming fans ready to tear them to shreds. The story goes that, that the adoring crowd bum rushed the stage, scarring the bejeesus out of the band and every adult in the building, while reducing the Gymnasium’s urethane coated floor to the bare boards. After 3 unsuccessful attempts at playing the band had to leave. It was Herman’s Hermits first American show… and the British Invasion was pounding down the doors of American teenage culture.

Unbelievably, the source of Manville’s right to rock and roll was a Christ the King Church priest named John A. Dzema. Father Dzema was a friend of Allentown, PA Disk Jockey Gene Kay. Gene Kay hosted the shows along with ex-American Bandstand hosts Monty Montez and Eddie Nixon. The Hermits weren’t Manville’s only claim to it’s contribution to rock & roll culture. The Manville High Gym had a weekly dance/show that boasted performances by The Four Seasons, Patty LaBelle and the Blue Bells, the Duprees, Ronnie and the Hi-Lites, Lesley Gore, Chubby Checker, Shirley Ellis, and Bobby Rydell. It must have been a phenominal time, unfortunately in the end the kids let violence and racism destroy probably the best thing the town ever had going in terms of entertainment.

I had been looking for some newspaper coverage of this event for awhile, and I know some folks have asked if I had any. Thanks to the Ogiba family for contributing this Gemm. Here is a link to download a flashback article from the Courier News that printed in 1979. DOWNLOAD

The Elmcrest Inn

This photo was donated by Tim k., who has been crucial with the photo submitions… Ive been searching for some info on this building for some time now. you can see it way in the back there as the parade goes by. The Elmcrest Inn or as I remember it “Coconuts” and then later “The Red Zone” (The Manville hip-hop club) This gem of a building was on the corner of Main Street and Kyle Street at the current site of the CVS, right around the corner from where I grew up on Angle Ave. As a little kid I remember it seemed to be abandoned for a while before they finally reopened it as Coconuts. Some people recall it as a scarry looking building, but I disagree. It’s the type of building that you’d imagine huge crystal chandelier’s hanging in the main ballroom… and it actually reminds me a lot of the original chester house building before they put on the addition. I wonder if the same architect designed them both. The Kopsko guys have helped me out a lot with great photos for this blog, and even though this one is quite small… it’s the only existing photo that I’ve seen of the Elmcrest Inn. I’m sure there are more floating around… so if you have them, or any info get them to me… I want to discuss this place!

Easter Time

So refreshing to see a color photo up here once and a while. This one being taken on March 26 1948 at the Camplain Road School during the production of the play “A White Easter Rabbit” I couldn’t find any info on the actual play, so it’s unclear if this was an original story or not. But this is just a great photo. There’s a signature in the bottom right that just says “Easter Time (1948)” Unfortunately there were no names on the back.