1893: Mennonite Bachelor Martin Hess Builds a House with a Funky Tower:
Above: The Hess House in Mr. Zook's 1905 book Historical and Pictorial Lititz.
Above: The Hess House on Google Maps.
Below: The Hess House on Bing Maps.
Queen-Anne-style architecture was the height of fashion in 1893, when 38-year-old bachelor Martin S. Hess built this house for his home on Main Street. The high-style house spoke with the trendiest Victorian vocabulary of the era, with its ornate spindles, shingles and brackets. And Martin's uniquely-singular house tower was the most distinctive in town.
Martin moved into his brand-new house in September 1893, accompanied by his two unmarried sisters, Lydia and Salinda.
These three ex-Mennonite Hess siblings had grown up on a nearby farm in Elizabeth Township, where their parents were members of Hammer Creek Mennonite Church. These three Hesses, though, joined the Lititz Moravian Church, where they were active and influential members.
Martin Hess was a coal-and-lumber dealer in Lititz for some 35 years years. He also owned 74 acres of farmland near Hammer Creek Mennonite Church. In addition, he was a director of the Lititz National Bank.
Ella Hacker Catches Martin Hess:
With this fanciful house and fanciful assets, Martin Hess must have seemed a unique specimen of bachelorhood to the unmarried women of Lititz. In 1896 he was unmarried no more, when he married Ella Hacker in a June wedding at Ella's home on Main Street, today's Alden House Bed and Breakfast. Ella was daughter of Lititz merchant Levi S. Hacker and wife Lavinia.
Sometime during this time, Martin's unmarried sisters Lydia and Salinda moved out of Martin's fanciful house to a plain-brick house a few doors west, at 117 East Main Street.
Martin and Ella had no children. Ella passed away in 1936, and is buried in the Lititz Moravian cemetery. Martin moved out of this house in his old age, to live with his sister Salinda, who was still living in the plain brick house up the street. Martin died in 1941, at age 83, and is buried in the Lititz Moravian Cemetery.
Martin had been an elder with the church, and was a teacher of the men's Sunday school class for many years.
Above: Martin moved out of his tower house in his old age, after the death of his wife Ella. He relocated to this house a few doors away, at 117 East Main Street, where he lived with his sister Salina.
Today, the top of the Martin's tower has been lost to an act of God or an act of man. But its photo remains in Mr. Zook's 1905 book, Historical and Pictorial Lititz.