26 September 2015

Saturday Spotlight- Circa 1900 Stone Victorian in Ambler

This week's Saturday Spotlight house is a relatively modest stone Queen Anne Victorian in downtown Ambler, PA.

Ambler is a borough rich with turn-of-the-century stone houses, many of them being twin homes. This single-family example of approximately 2,400 square feet exhibits the waning of Victorian style around 1900, being much less decorative than most Queen Annes from the late 19th century. Still, this house has the scalloped shingles and turned posts on the front porch you would expect. As typical of a Victorian, the house is covered with a picturesque roof line, being hipped and interrupted by gabled dormers. These dormers are much less prominent than the front-facing gable which would typically dominate, however the dormer gables are still the place for the decorative shingling and includes a Palladian window with diamond panes on the side windows. A bay window adorns the side of the home, extending from ground level up to the roof eave.


In 1891, the hilly land upon which this house sits was part of the farm of Joseph Ambler. Although Joseph is not the namesake for the borough of Ambler, his mother, Mary, was. Joseph's land, right on Butler Avenue, was much more modestly sized than his brother Isaac's 51-acre farm nearby. By 1893, it appears Joseph's neighbor's land had become annexed into his farm, extending it all the way back to Forrest Avenue. In 1895, Joseph Ambler passed away, setting into motion the subdivision of his land.

The Victorian home was built most likely sometime between 1900-1910 by Leidy Barringer Heckler. Born in 1859, Leidy Heckler was a carpenter and contractor and lived nearby to this site, on Bethlehem Pike. By 1916, he had acquired and subdivided Joseph Ambler's farmland, building 36 homes all of similar size and construction, and of similar but slightly differing style. Hendricks Street formed the spine of this development, with a new street called Heckler Street, bearing the builder's name, branching off of it just to the north of the subject house.

Although some of these homes had clearly become finished and occupied by the time of the 1910 census, no occupants appear at this particular address. Heckler still apparently owned many of these homes immediately after construction for a time, with many of these homes containing rental tenants in the 1920 census. Scottish immigrants Robert and Mary Armour appear to have been early tenants in this home, Robert being a 65-year-old stock man at the iron works. 64-year-old Irish immigrant James Shannon, a watchman at an asbestos plant, presumably that of Keasby & Mattison (the operation that made Ambler the "asbestos capital of the world", which was a good thing at the time), also lived in the home.

By 1920 most of the Heckler houses had new permanent owners, including Clarence Yost at this subject house. Yost was a 31-year-old mechanic and taxicab owner, and lived at the home with his wife, Anna, and two daughters, Marion and Nanette Yost. The Yosts appear to have lived at the house at least through 1940.

1980s to Present

The post-WWII history of the home is not immediately evident, however by 1981, Robert Kelly and Gloria Montes-Kelly came to own the home for the next 17 years until 1998. The house changed hands again in 2007 and once again this past summer when a new owner took over stewardship. From the real estate listing realtor, we see several views of the homes lovely interior.

Interior photos courtesy of Allison Wolf realtor, BHHS Fox & Roach

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