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Tamaqua industrial site for sale

Tamaqua’s oldest and most original industrial complex is up for grabs and at least one interested party thinks it could become a hotel or inn.

At Friday’s sale of contents of the historic 1865 Conrad Bischoff Planing Mill and Furniture Factory, current owner Ingrid DeBellas of New Ringgold said the site is on the market and a private developer is interested in exploring options at the west end location.

“It’s out on bids,” said DeBellas, who, with husband Donald, operated an antiques shop at the site for many years. Donald passed in May.

The three-story brick Victorian building at 320 Lafayette St. includes a large woodframe annex and barn extending south to 323 West Rowe St. where the property fronts a right of way that was once the Mountain Link Railroad.

The structure includes a large banked, full stone basement with entrance on the south side where ancillary buildings also are located.

The complex was built in post Civil War days by Bavarian immigrant Conrad Bischoff. According to the Tamaqua Historic District listing on file with the National Park Service, the factory turned out many beautiful and ornate pieces of furniture, including burial caskets for an undertaking business.

Still readable on the building’s exterior are 1800s ghost signs “C. Bischoff Manufacturer of Furniture & Wood Turnings,” “W. Bischoff, Furniture & Undertaker,” “Washburn Crosby Cos.,” “Gold Medal Flour,” and more.

The public sale, conducted by Dean Arner Auctioneer of New Ringgold, emptied the complex of architectural antiques, wood and primitives collected by Donald DeBellas over the years.

A few small items that may have dated back to the earliest days of the Bischoff enterprise were donated to the Tamaqua Historical Society, said Ingrid.

Bidders said they turned out on a cold, damp morning to try and buy a variety of goods.

“I’m here for some wood,” said Tony Zancofsky of Tamaqua.

Others said they were on hand to purchase vintage hardware, windows and doors that once just can’t find at other places.

The auction did not include the buildings, which are being marketed separately.

While the Bischoff building is considered the town’s oldest industrial site, Tamaqua’s oldest continuously operating business is believed to be the extant Remaly Manufacturing Co. It began on Center Street in 1865 as The Wire Screen Works and relocated to Cedar Street in 1871, and is still in business today.

Bidders scan boxes of hardware and architectural antiques on Friday at the former Bischoff Manufacturing building annex on West Rowe Street.
A large, full stone basement includes an impressive balcony inside the main building of the former Conrad Bischoff Planing Mill and Furniture Factory, Tamaqua. DONALD R. SERFASS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
The main building of the 1860s-era Bischoff complex fronts on Lafayette Street and is considered a strong contributing resource to the Tamaqua National Historic District. DONALD R. SERFASS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
The second floor of the Bischoff building, actually ground level at the Lafayette Street entrance, housed Lizard Creek Valley Antiques for many years. DONALD R. SERFASS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS