Education: Heritage Discovery Center

Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Primary Source: Photo Gallery

Historic Cambria City Walking Tour Guide

Cambria City National Historic District

Page 3 of 6

These photographs, which were taken in modern Cambria City (from 2004-2006), contain many clues that reveal how its earlier immigrant residents lived. As you walk through the streets or browse through the photos, look for ways ethnic groups banded together to make a life in their new home: traditions, events, organizations, or places to help new immigrants feel like they belonged. Then look for clues to how today's residents keep their heritage alive -- and how they've moved on.

Click on the images below to view a larger image. To help you see as much as possible from these photographs, use the tool "Reading a Photograph.

Map of Cambria City


15. Fehse House (1899)

521 Power Street

This double-house was originally built as a rental property by William Fehse, a German immigrant mill laborer who also owned a store and restaurant on the 800 block of Chestnut Street. Census records from 1910 indicate his tenants as an Irish railroad engineer and his family, and a German coal miner and his family with one servant. The house remained in the Fehse family until 1953.

16-18. St. Casimir’s Roman Catholic Church (1907)

500-511 Power Street.

Polish residents of Cambria City organized the St. Casimir’s Lodge in 1892 and formed a parish in 1901. Construction of the church was started in 1902 but completion was delayed until 1906 because mine accidents claimed the lives of over forty adult male Lodge members. The church was finally dedicated in 1907, and is now flanked by the church’s first rectory (16), a Queen Anne-style house constructed in 1902 and converted to a convent in 1912, and the current rectory (18), completed in 1921. The church also constructed a school on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Chestnut Street, with the first floor completed in 1913 and a second floor added in 1925. The architect of the church, the current rectory and the school was Walter Myton, who also designed the Polska Com (25) in 1915. St. Casimir’s is built in Romanesque style, and the vestibule contains a design perspective of the church signed by Myton. The altar, railing and pillars are of white Carrara marble from Italy. The replica of the Pieta was installed in 1921.

Broad Street

19. Fifth Avenue Hotel (circa 1889)

Corner of Fifth Avenue and Broad Street.

Constructed by German miner George Blimmel in 1889 and operated as a public house and saloon through the early 1900s. This building may have survived the Flood of 1889 as it was listed in pre-flood city directories.

20. Wagner-Ritter House (1865)

418 Broad Street.

Mustard yellow. George Wagner immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1853 and built a small house on this site for his family (including seven children) about 1865. They were parishioners of Immaculate Conception. In 1919 the current house passed into the hands of Wagner’s daughter Anna Ritter. In 1990, the property was donated to the Johnstown Area Heritage Association which has restored the house, preserving it as an illustration of typical late 19th century worker housing in Cambria City. Archeological digs behind the house produced period artifacts and remnants which assisted in the interpretation of the site and the lives of those who worked in the mills and mines. Visitors may tour the interior of the house and the Visitor's Center next door.

21. Komara House (1902)

Rear 403 Chestnut Street, backing onto Brallier Place (alley).

Tan-rose. Joseph Komara built and operated a saloon and boarding house at 119 Broad Street (since demolished), and constructed this rental housing on the rear of the let. Many families in Cambria City used the rear of their lots to construct rental residential housing for income.


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