Staudt’s Justa Road Farm

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This is another installment in the “Before Blue Marsh” series, where I explore the remains of various properties that were razed in the 1970s to make way for the Blue Marsh Lake Project. See more here.

Staudt's Justa Road Farm
Staudt’s Justa Road Farm in 1979 – Photo courtesy of Linda Finogle Zeimer

At the end of Justa Road in Lower Heidelberg Township stood a farm that surprisingly stayed in one family for a century. The stone house was built in 1859 by Benjamin and Eva Gerhart. They sold it to Samuel Staudt sometime around 1870.

Staudt's Justa Road Farm
1876 Map of Lower Heidelberg Township, which shows the two dwellings of S. Staudt on either side of the word “Brownsville”. This property was the mark on the left side of Brownsville, the other one on the right still exists

After Samuel’s death in the home 1900, son Aaron Staudt inherited the property.

1900 Reading Times

After Aaron’s death in 1927, son William W. Staudt, founder of D. S. and W. Hosiery company in Reading, inherited the property. William added a cinderblock addition to the home in 1935. This addition included indoor plumbing – a kitchen and laundry room on the first floor and a master bedroom and bathroom on the second.

Late 19th century view of the farm during Samuel’s ownership – Photo courtesy of the Staudt/Sheidy Family

Harold Hain Staudt, son of William, inherited this property after his father’s death in 1949. It does not appear William or Harold ever lived here full time. All censuses place William in Reading and Harold settled in Greenfields, Bern Township. It is safe to assume the property and farm land began being leased during William’s ownership.

Harold obtained his law degree from Boston University and later became the owner of three hosiery mills in Berks County; including his father’s D. S. & W. Hosiery Co., Chancellor Hosiery Mills in Reading, and Staudt’s Hosiery Mill in Exeter Township. Upon his death in 1962 this property was willed to his wife, Elsie, who sold it to the PA State Game Commission in 1970.

At the time of the sale in 1970 most of the farm outbuildings including the barn, a small henhouse and chicken coops, were dismantled and/or sold. The property also had a summer kitchen with built-in wood burning stoves, a relic of the era in which it was built.

Staudt's Justa Road Farm
Something metal buried – maybe a auto body around where the barn stood

The State Game Commission continued renting the house out for nearly another decade. I spoke to a woman named Linda whose family (The Finogle’s) leased the house between 1965 (under Elsie Staudt ownership) through the PSGC sale until October 1979. Linda mentioned that descendants of the Staudt’s tried to have this property preserved and relocated to the Dry Road Farm area nearby, but were told it could not be done. There is a “Staudt Farm” at Old Dry Road Farm, but it belonged to Aaron’s brother, Harry.

Staudt's Justa Road Farm
Painting of the Staudt’s Justa Road Farm – Photo courtesy of Linda Finogle Zeimer

A tree fell on the house in 1980 and it was razed shortly after.

Thank you to Linda Finogle Zeimer, Kara Fossey and Paul Miller for their informational contributions to this article

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Steve Hellet
Steve Hellet
4 months ago

Thanks for this article. Love reading these kind of stories about Berks.

Paul Miller
Paul Miller
4 months ago

Some additional information. The stone house was built by Benjamin and Eva (Seibert) Gerhart with the datestone on the house showing 1859. This information on the farm appeared in our book on Blue Marsh, along with this early photo taken circa 1907 by Peter Gerhart Jr. who worked at Grand View Sanatorium, great great grandson of Johann Peter Gerhart who originated the farms in this area. The Gerhart family owned several farms in this immediate area. As stated in this article, the Staudt and Sheidy families later had this farm. The metal is likely buried autos. Gary Finogle claimed that the family left behind several junk autos and the Army Corp/Game Commission bulldozed them under. There also had been a couple of concrete steps at the corner of Justa Road that led up to a farm building.

Berks Nostalgia