Meadville is to the northwest of Franklin along French Creek. In the mid nineteenth century, Meadville was the most prominent and elegant community in this part of Pennsylvania. Much of that was due to the wealth and power of first, the Holland Land Company and, then, the Huidekoper family of Meadville. Also, the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad early on arrived in Meadville in 1862 giving the community an additional asset to produce wealth. Meadville was the seat of government for Crawford County and as such played a significant role in the early days of the oil excitement. Allegheny College was located here and added to the community’s prominence and prestige. With its great wealth, Meadville was able to build some of the very best Victorian structures in this region. Many have been taken down, but many splendid homes remain.
Looking out over Terrace Street from a commanding site at the top of a sprawling lot stands a house built by the Huidekoper family in 1896, one of several Victorian period Huidekoper homes built in Meadville. This large masonry house with Flemish parapets at the gables and dormers is suggestive of an English Tudor manor house from the sixteenth century. The two-story porch with the well detailed Ionic columns and semicircular roof is a neoclassical influence. An early Adam Style structure with an exquisite Adamesque interior was located on the front of this property in 1806. When the large house was being built in the 1890's, the older house with its Adamesque interior was relocated to the left side of the current structure. That 1806 house is contained within the walls of the 1896 house you see today.
Near the big Huidekoper House on Terrace Street is an excellent example of an 1870's Second Empire. The house displays a gable on the front facade that conforms to the cross-sectional shape of its Mansard roof. Both brackets and modillions emphasize the overhanging cornice. The windows are topped with baroque hoods which happen to be of cast iron. The full width, high veranda with its square posts is original and quite appropriate.
Off the Diamond and near the Courthouse is a large Italianate, the Tarr house. The Tarrs were farmers from Oil Creek. Oil was discovered in 1861 on the James Tarr farm in what is now Oil Creek State Park. After receiving well over $1,000,000 in royalties, James Tarr in 1865 sold his interest in the farm for $2,000,000 in gold. The Tarrs came to Meadville with their fortune and built this Victorian residence.
Chestnut Street runs up the hill from the Diamond and is perhaps the premier address in the town. Numerous well kept Victorians on generous lots with mature trees and century-old shrubbery are on both sides of the Street. On the left side of Chestnut as you go up the street is an excellent brick Victorian structure with two trefoil windows in gables on either side of the tower standing out from the front facade. The trefoil windows and fleur-de-lis decorated gable vergeboards are Gothic elements interestingly imposed on an Italianate mass.
Over toward Allegheny College stands an elaborate, complex Queen Anne that is a show stopper. The house features an intricately decorated tower, porches tucked here and there and an unusually constructed chimney offset at a corner of the house with the masonry of the chimney reaching down and over to envelop a large window set in a masomry arch. Variations of this house can be seen around the country.
Meadville is on Interstate 79 where it intersects with Route 322. A number of motels are along Route 322, just off the Interstate. Fifteen miles north of Meadville on Route 19 in Cambridge Springs is the late nineteenth century Riverside Hotel, well preserved and definitely from a more gracious time.
Numerous regional and national chain restaurants.
For Information on the Meadville Area
Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau 16709 Conneaut Lake Road, Meadville, Pa. 16335 (800) 332-2338
North from Pittsburgh or South from Erie on Interstate 79. West from Franklin on Route 322. West from Titusville on Route27.