How things change and remain the same!

Reporter in Residence
Monroe Mouse
I almost thought we were moving to a new location with all the activity at the mansion this week. Then I discovered that the tables and chairs were going to south Stroudsburg for something called a garden tour.

I was not quite sure what a garden tour was, but I did know where south Stroudsburg was. In fact, some of my relatives lived there at one time. Being a full-time resident of the Stroud Mansion, I thought it was important that I be prepared to share information about this area of our community.

In our vertical files, I found a copy of a 1911 advertisement for the sale of lots in Collins Court in south Stroudsburg. Although most of the street names on the tract plan were different than they are today, I did recognize Broad Street. Amenities to attract potential buyers included macadam roads, concrete sidewalks, sewage, and ornamental trees. I chuckled when I read, “as fast as dirt can fly the estate is being completed.” It appeared that the price of $8 to $30 per foot of frontage would catch readers’ attention.

I decided I would accompany our MCHA volunteers to this garden tour and find out exactly what it was. First, I was amazed that there was no trolley line from Seventh Street to Park Avenue. Although I am inclined to live in the past, I was pleased to see a beautiful new bridge crossing the McMichael Creek at Seventh Street. The first bridge was built with private funds and subsequently wagons and automobiles were charged a toll of 10 cents. This did not please Stroudsburg residents, and by 1929, the county commissioners with court approval closed the bridge for repairs. When it was opened again, there were no more tolls.

On our trip to south Stroudsburg, there was considerable conversation about gardens. Of course this brought back memories of the LaBar Rhododendron Nursery, 90 acres developed by W.K. LaBar in 1914. People traveled great distances to enjoy the beauty of the nursery, including its breathtaking reflecting pool. The nursery was sold in 1978 and is now the location of LaBar Village.

By the 1950s, south Stroudsburg had matured into a tightly-knit community. Residents provided snippets of their childhood in south Stroudsburg. In the 1940s and ’50s, children rollerskated on the sidewalk, played cops-and-robbers in the ravine where Interstate 80 is now, and walked to school. Those that lived on the east side went to Ramsey, those on the west attended Morey. All came home for lunch! In later years they went to high school together.

A strong sense of community is still evident in south Stroudsburg. When the corner of Park Avenue and Bryant Street became an eyesore, individuals such as Holly Gravel, Ellen Phraner, Brad Cooper and many others decided to transform it into a beautiful park. The park has become a center of community cohesiveness, providing a playground for children, a “bring one, take one” book exchange, a center for community activities, and simply a place to contemplate the beauty of nature.

I spent the morning helping sell garden tour tickets in the park’s gazebo and then went off to enjoy the delightful gardens on the tour.

Monroe Mouse talked with Pam Hoy and Susan Kovarick for this story, and used the following in his research: Historic Monroe County articles by Dr. John C. Appel in the Pocono Shopper, Nov. 8 and 15, 1995; the Pocono Record, Dec. 23, 1978; The Times-Democrat, Christmas 1911