Wish you were here: Lebanon County postcards of decades past

4 min read74 views and 5 shares Posted April 1, 2019

These postcards from the World War II and postwar era are a beautiful reminder that there’s a lot to appreciate around us in Lebanon County.

These cards are part of a public domain collection from Tichnor Brothers Inc., a Boston-based postcard printer active from the 1910’s through the 1960’s.

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City of Lebanon

The Lebanon Veterans Administration Hospital campus was constructed in the late 1940’s and remains an iconic local landmark.
Built in 1940, the Gingrich Memorial Swimming Pool is intact in Coleman Park. It closed for the 2018 swim season.
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The Lebanon Senior High School was replaced by a new facility in 1969, while the old building was repurposed into the current Lebanon Middle School.
The Lebanon Steel Foundry began business in late 1911 and supplied crucial materials to the US military throughout both World Wars.
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The First National Bank building was expanded and remodeled to its pictured state in 1914 along Cumberland Street.
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The original Lebanon post office (above) was finished in 1907 on the corner of 8th and Chestnut. Sadly, it no longer exists.
The Samler Building’s distinctive conical roof still dominates 8th Street.
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The George Washington Tavern (formerly the Swan Hotel) is said to have been a stopover on multiple occasions for our first president, possibly during the Revolutionary War and the construction of the Union Canal Tunnel (see below).
The Union Canal Tunnel, constructed from 1792 to its completion in 1828, remains the oldest surviving tunnel in the US and is available for tours in the spring and summer.
The former Hotel Lebanon is today known as the American House and operates as an assisted-living facility at the intersection of Walton and 9th Street.

Indiantown Gap

Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in northern Lebanon County began to take shape as a military camp in the 1930’s, following the Pennsylvania National Guard’s decision to relocate its training grounds from Mt. Gretna. Men trained at “the Gap” served in World War II and the Korean War. The 18,000-acre grounds also acted as a camp for the Reserve Officer Training Corps in the Vietnam era.

Today it is officially known as Fort Indiantown Gap and is occupied by the Pennsylvania Army and Air National Guards.

Mt. Gretna

Mt. Gretna’s popularity as a forest hideaway south of Lebanon began as early as 1883. Two years later, the Pennsylvania National Guard began its encampment. A number of cottages were built in the waning years of the 19th century, and the hamlet was a popular destination for several decades.

The Great Depression and World War II saw a decline in visitors. In the latter half of the 20th century Mt. Gretna began to reassert itself as a Pennsylvania cultural hub. The Annual Outdoor Art Show has been held in town since 1976, and the Mt. Gretna Lake, Jigger Shop Ice Cream Parlor, and Gretna Theatre continue to draw in visitors.

The original Gretna Theatre (aka the Playhouse) was built in 1892, and suffered a roof collapse in 1994. It was rebuilt soon afterwards and today stages productions from multiple organizations during the summer months.
Mt. Gretna was chosen as the meeting grounds for the Pennsylvania branch of the Chautauqua, a popular adult educational movement prevalent in the early 20th century.
Also known as Lake Conewago, this recreational centerpiece was the result of a dam on nearby Conewago Creek in 1885.

To view more postcards from Pennsylvania and other states, visit the complete collection, hosted by the Boston Public Library on Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth. Cards specific to Lebanon County may be found here.

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