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Partial demolition at historic Tamaqua home

Tamaqua Borough Council recently issued an emergency demolition permit for a section of a large house located in the community’s historic district.

On Monday and Tuesday, work crews used heavy equipment to dismantle an upper floor oriel room which extended from the second level of the circa 1885 George W. Cole House along the 200 block of West Broad Street.

The room was a cantilevered extension accessed inside the home from a landing off the main staircase. It was supported below by the structure’s main porch roof but had been pulling away from the main part of the house for years.

Along with demolition of the oriel room, crews dismantled the first floor wraparound porch and sealed a doorway and other areas left exposed after removal of the one-room addition.

The building is regarded as a strong contributing resource to the Tamaqua National Historic District.

With seven bedrooms, five baths, and nearly 6,000 feet of living space, the home is one of several remaining properties of the town’s early Mansion Row, according to the district’s inventory of resources.

In 2001, the Italianate mansion with its largely original interior was featured as part of a Christmas walking tour of historic homes of the neighborhood.

According to records at the Schuylkill County courthouse, original owner Cole owned mines in the region as early as 1862, including the Reevesdale Colliery.

In 1878, Cole became treasurer of the Little Schuylkill Navigation and Railroad Company under President F.N. Buck.

The 1831 railroad was the first in the nation to haul coal using a steam engine and is still in use today.

In April, 1896, the building served as home of the Seligman family, owners of Seligman & Company Inc., prominent early business that sold hardware, furniture, rugs, bedding, appliances and paints.

The home had various other owners over the years, at one point serving dual purpose as a residence and business.

In 1951, it was acquired by attorney Archibald McMichael, who maintained offices on the first floor and resided on the second and third floors.

The brick mansion, covered in blue plaster, was sold two years ago to private owners in Brooklyn, New York.

Work crews early Tuesday dismantle the wraparound porch and fallen debris from a second floor room addition at the historic 1885 George W. Cole House on the 200 block of West Broad Street in Tamaqua. DONALD R. SERFASS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS