|The businesses, events and personalities of Schuylkill Haven as we know it
today will someday be looked upon as the past just as we now look back to our
childhood and beyond as we view the history of our town. This section
highlights a unique business, organization or person in Schuylkill Haven today,
providing information future researchers may appreciate.
REILEY & STERNER USED CARS
At one time a resident of Schuylkill Haven could purchase a new car or truck at
multiple locations with a stroll through town. As late as the 1970s, cars could be
purchased at Earl Stoyers Cadillac Oldsmobile at Columbia and Berne Streets,
Dinger Chevrolet on St. Charles Street, Haven Motors on Columbia Street and
Hummel Buick on Center Avenue. Today there remains but one establishment
within the borough limits where you can purchase a car in variety*; Reiley and
Sterners on Center Avenue. Perhaps appropriately, it's location is the site of the
last new car dealership that existed in town, that being Hummel Buick.
Reiley and Sterner is owned by John Reiley and Michael "Elmo" Sterner. The
pair began their business at 29 West Main Street in October of 1979. They had
bought the Exxon gas station at that location from Bobby Hoy. In 1981 they
expanded from servicing cars and selling gas to selling used cars. On July 1,
1993, they moved their business to the larger location at 312 Center Avenue, the
former site of Hummel Buick. John and Elmo became friends while playing CYO
Biddy Basketball, John for St. Patricks and Elmo for St. Ambrose. Both worked
at Dave Wingle's Atlantic gas station on Main Street (currently the site of
Fredericksburg National Bank) where they began learning car mechanics. After
Dave Wingle's death in a car accident in 1973, Elmo went to work for Haven
Motors on Columbia Street in town while John joined the Marines, both
continuing learning their trade. When John returned from the Marines in 1979,
he and Elmo went into business. Their establishment is known for quality cars
and quality personal service. For now they will also be known perhaps as being
the last automobile business in Schuylkill Haven.
|Co-owners "Elmo" Sterner (left)
employee Bud Bittler ready for
business in October 1979.
The same location about fifty years earlier.
|Reiley and Sterner as it appears
today on Center Avenue.
|The same site with Mackey's
Tavern, an old stagecoach stop,
occupying the ground
*Bruce's Auto Mall exists on Center Ave but deals
almost exclusively in Corvettes.
|STONE HOUSE BED AND BREAKFAST
At one time, Schuylkill Haven had it's share of hotels offering overnight accommodations. During the
twentieth century, the Columbia Hotel on Columbia Street near the bridge, the Central Hotel on Main Street
and the imposing Hotel Grand at Main and St. John Streets among others provided rooms for weary
Today there is but one establishment in the borough with overnight accommodations and that is the Stone
House Bed and Breakfast operated by Theresa Lonergan, a native of Ashland. The property is well known
in town as a two family residence built in 1930 for Henry Snayberger and Frank Keller, co-owners of the
Walkin Shoe factory. Theresa initially purchased one half of the building in 1981 and the other half in 1991.
At that time she realized it was too large for a single family and she decided to create a bed and breakfast
which opened in December of 1995.
The meticulously maintained property has a traditional look with deep window sills, original woodwork, high
ceilings and hardwood floors. The rooms are tastefully furnished with items Theresa has accumulated
over the years. No structural changes have been made to the rooms.
Theresa's clientele include business persons but are more likely to be what she calls travelers, as
opposed to tourists. They are people generally here for a specific event or reason. Many repeat
customers fill her rooms keeping her busy with her "labor of love" as she calls it. There are five rooms:
Seascapes, Victoria, Foxhollow, Garden View and Janet's Place.
To the rear of the property is a memorial garden created in 1952 by Snayberger to honor his late wife. It
has a stone enclosure and a fountain and pond along with gardens. The Stone House Bed and Breakfast,
whose rooms exude charm matched by the proprietor, remains Schuylkill Haven's only place of rest for
travelers and is certainly worth a visit.
The eye catching sign on the left draws clients to the 1930 built home now known as the Stone House Bed and Breakfast.
Pictures from left: first floor foyer,dining room,sitting room,upstairs hall,Seascapes,Foxhollow,outdoor garden,Victoria,bath.
Family owned jewelry stores were once common in small towns such as Schuylkill Haven much as other
specialty shops were before modern transportation and later malls and chain stores. Many residents of
town may remember Sam Kurtz's shop on St. John Street, John Fehr's on Main Street or George Butz's
on Dock Street. While many people think of chain jewelery stores for their needs today, there still
remain family owned shops such as Currey's Jewelers in Schuylkill Haven.
Located at 101 East Main Street, their store is the last of it's kind in town. The business is truly a family
business, owned by Justin and Patty Currey who are ably assisted by their sons Justin and Jason and
daughter Melissa. They started their business in 1981, spending one year in the former Kurtz location
on St. John Street before moving to their current location. The present shop was the last location of
Fehr's Jewelers before owner John Fehr retired.
The shop itself is rich with Schuylkill Haven history. The owners related that former jeweler Benny
Crossley told them that the building was once a feed mill with facilities in the rear for care of horses.
Grain would be bought there or loaded onto boats on the canal along River Street. The current facade
of the building is different from those days as there once was a set of swinging wooden doors with
brass hardware at the front entrance, still in possession of the current owners. The ornately decorated
safe on the premises was once in the shop of George Butz as were the beautiful wooden display cases
which were custom made to fit into the living room of the Butz home which housed his business. In
addition they also utilize work benches from both the Kurtz and Fehr businesses.
The Currey family is the fourth owner of the business that existed on Main Street. As stated they
occupied the site previously used by John Fehr, who had succeeded John Price who had succeeded S.
M. Rupley before him. At one time the shop was located several doors west of it's current location.
The Currey's do all work on site, selling new pieces including custom made objects and doing repairs
and restoration on antique or older items. No piece is sent out as all work is done by the Currey's
themselves, most in the same way it has been done for many years as technology has not infiltrated this
Justin received his training at the now defunct Bowman Technical School in Lancaster and began his
trade in Delaware doing watch repairs. At one time he did work for both Fehr and Kurtz. He related that
at one time he would meet Sam Kurtz and exchange newly repaired watches with Sam for those needing
Justin had many interesting stories of which I will relate two. Benny Crossley of town assisted Justin
during busy periods. When Benny had gotten out of the business, he had one tray of diamonds left
which he sold. Benny proceeded to take the cash and go to a race track where he quickly lost the last
profits of his business, but did so without any regret as he enjoyed what his trade had brought him.
Justin also spoke of a Waltham pocket watch which wound with a key that had an interesting family
history. His great great grandfather had assisted the country of Japan in livestock raising. As a reward
he was presented with an elaborate watch by the Emperor of Japan. The watch remained in the family
for many years.
Take the time to visit this history filled location, view the fine pieces offered by the Currey's and absorb
a little bit of Schuylkill Haven history.
|Currey Jewelers on Main Street as it appears today. Justin Currey believes the
original building consisted of only the front portion of the property with the red brick.
|To the left are
benches from the
shop. On the
right is a bench
from the Fehr
business. At one
time a pulley
system using a
|On the left is the
ornate safe from
the Butz jewelry
shop and at right
are the custom
built cases from
the same shop.
Click on each picture to view in greater detail.
|Recently, the Pottsville Republican was
kind enough to do an article on my web
site. Amy Marchiano wrote the article and
Jackie Dormer took the pictures. The
article is presented here for anyone who
would care to read it.
|In my efforts to publicize Schuylkill Haven
history, I also write an article for every issue
of the Schuylkill Berks News. Check it out.
|If my work schedule permits, I
hope to display a portion of my
collection on Borough Day.
Keep checking in for details.
|As always, thanks to all of you who continue
to visit my site and tell others about it. Word of
mouth is still my best advertisement.