A Place in Time spotlights a significant cultural resource - a district, site, building, structure or object - entered in the National Register of Historic Places.

During the nineteenth century, tanning was an essential component of Pennsylva­nia’s industrial economy. Prior to the out­break of the Civil War, tanneries in the Keystone State’s rural areas were as ubiquitous as gristmills; in 1860, for example, more than one thousand tanneries were in operation and all but one county had at least one. These tanneries ranged in size from a one-person manufactory in Sullivan County to workforces of several dozen in Philadelphia County. Most were family-run concerns. By the close of the nineteenth century, many tanneries ceased operation and the years 1875 to 1925 witnessed the greatest decline of small factories as technological advances in the industry required substantial capital out­lay for machinery and equipment.

The survival rate for buildings associ­ated with tanning operations is extremely low – less than ten documented industrial tanning buildings are known to exist in southeastern and southcentral Pennsylvania. One of the most significant sites asso­ciated with the Commonwealth’s tanning industry is the Israel and Samuel Lupfer Tannery Site and House, located in Perry County.

Brothers Israel and Samuel Lupfer, fourth-generation Pennsylvania Germans born in the Perry County seat of New Bloomfield, established their operation, which they named Monterey Tannery, in 1848 along the Shaeffer Run in Toboyne Township. They purchased the land in parcels, eventually acquiring many acres of woodlands to support the operation, which required tremendous amounts of tree bark for tanning Liquor and wood to stoke a steam boiler. In addition to the tanning vats and steam boiler, the Lupfer operation included four large ground pits for scraping and cleaning hides, a bark preparation house, a cook house, small frame houses for workers, and raceways. Foundations of several of these features are visible.

Only the tanner’s 1852 stone house remains, but the site is exceptionally important because it yields information, through historic archaeology, about the physical layout of a rural tannery in mid- ­to late-nineteenth-century Pennsylvania. Because the property has not been regraded, filled, or built upon, archaeologists­ – aided by several surviving late-nineteenth­-century photographs – will be able to ana­lyze the era of tanning predating chromi­um-based, mechanized mass production. Most urban tanneries have been demolished and replaced by later buildings, while many rural operations have been obliterated by changes in the land use and development. The archaeological remains of the Israel and Samuel Lupfer Tannery Site and House are remarkable and will answer historians’ many questions about what work and life were like in such an important industry during its heyday.


Recent Additions to the National Register of Historic Places

Everett Historic District
Everett, Bedford County
May 29, 2003

Butler Historic District
Butler, Butler County
May 29, 2003

Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad
Brockwayville Passenger Depot Brockway, Jefferson County
May 29, 2003

First Universalist Church of Sharpsville
Sharpsville, Mercer County
May 29, 2003

Israel and Samuel Lupfer Tannery Site and House
Jackson Township, Perry County
May 30, 2003

Booth Farm
Boothwyn, Delaware County
June 13, 2003

Philadelphia School of Occupational Therapy
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County
June 13, 2003


The editor acknowledges the research of Nancy Van Dolsen and Jerry A. Clouse, who nomi­nated the Israel and Samuel Lupfer Tannery Site and House to the National Register of Historic Places.