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 in 1965.
The C1860 Walnut Street Pony Bridge restoration 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 in America.
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 Hellertown Historical Society (HHS) is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of Hellertown and its people. In 1984, the Society was granted a 99 year lease from the Borough of Hellertown to occupy, restore, and maintain a major portion of Hellertown’s historical 35 acre Heller-Wagner Grist Mill tract and its buildings.
Hellertown's First Jail built in 1872 by then First Burgess, Thomas Laubach, is located at the end of Laubach Street ( off Penn Street behind the 1774 Grill and Tap Restaurant) and served as Hellertown's first lock-up for 28 years. The approximately 12' X 14' stone structure likely housed minimal criminals such as those who were drunk and/or disorderly and perhaps a horse thief or two. No records are available to show that hardened criminals were ever placed in the facility. The jail house was replaced with cells in the municipal building that was later buiit on Saucon Street inside the new Dewey Fire Company Headquarters. The Historical Society was gifted the property in 1984 from Elizabeth Hess, widow of Howard Hess, Hellertown Mayor 1946-1949. The jail was restored in 2017 with a new roof, new floor, ceiling and installation of a cell and furniture. The jail is often open throughout the year for tours.
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.
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.
Phone (610) 838-1770
Office Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 9:00AM - 11:30AM
Museum Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 9:00AM - 11:30AM & By Appointment