The Heller Wagner Grist Mill is one of the oldest landmarks in Hellertown. Simon
Heller, second son of Christopher Heller, received a land grant from Thomas and Richard
Penn in 1746. In 1761, Simon Heller received a second land grant from the Penns.
It is believed Simon Heller erected a sawmill on the second tract in the 1760’s.
After several owners, Christopher Wagner purchased the sawmill and both tracts in
1772. For the next 142 years the sawmill, and eventually a grist mill, bore the
Wagner name. In 1875, the mill was remodeled with the addition of water turbines.
The grist mill operated into the 1950’s. The Borough of Hellertown took ownership
The Borough of Hellertown took ownership in 1965.
The Wash House located on the Heller-Wagner Grist Mill grounds is the smallest stone
structure overlooking the mill chase and ponds. This little gem of a house appears
to have been built in the 1700’s and, along with a portion of the Grist Mill, most
likely served as housing for early millers and their families. Although not documented,
it is possible business was once conducted on the lower level with the miller and/or
his family dwelling on the upper level. It is now referred to as The Wash House,
because after the construction of the Miller’s House in the 1800’s, it was utilized
to wash sacks for the grain and possibly as the family’s wash house.
The Miller’s House was built in the early to mid 1800’s with additions in the late
1800’s. There was no mention of a dwelling house until an 1812 will of Christopher
(Stoffel)Wagner stipulated that his heir, grandson of Jacob Wagner, allow a decent
dwelling for John Wagner and his wife (parents of Jacob Wagner). A mention of the
Miller’s House has also been found in the 1841 Release of Dower of Susanna Wagner,
second wife of Jacob Wagner (1783-1841). Today the stucco over stone and brick Miller’s
House serves as the offices and board room for Hellertown Historical Society as well
as a repository for a wide variety of documents, archives, and clothes.
The Barn is located across Walnut Street from the Heller-Wagner Grist Mill and the
Miller’s House and was completed in 2005 by the Hellertown Historical Society. Displays
include numerous agricultural implements and machinery, blacksmith tools, cabinetmaker
tools, and even a wooden sleigh once drawn by horses. Visitors may also tour The
Grist Mill and view the mill’s gear mechanisms, machinery, scale, and mill race.
The upper level of the Grist Mill houses an eclectic mix of scenes depicting life
in Hellertown’s earlier days. Highlights include The Country Store, The School Room,
The Doctor’s Office, The Pharmacy, and various household scenes.
Restoration of The C1860 Walnut Street Pony Bridge was completed by the Society in
2000. This bridge formerly spanned Saucon Creek and was traveled by horses, buggies,
pedestrians, tractors, and finally cars. Originally designed and patented by Francis
J. Lowthorp in 1856, it was fabricated by the Beckel Foundry and Machine Shop of
Bethlehem, PA. It was moved aside in the 1970’s to allow for a new structure safe
for school buses. In 1994, with help from Lehigh University graduate students, HHS
dismantled and reassemble it over the mill race. It survives as an example of a
cast iron high truss bridge and is the only one of its kind believed to still exist