BOROUGH HISTORY

Red Hill was originally a part of Upper Hanover Township. During a period when villages usually sprang up at a crossroads, this village, once known as Hillegassville, spread itself along the present Main Street. The roadway was planned in 1735 as the “Great Road leading into Philadelphia” with the assumption that it was laid out over an indian trail and quite straight. In 1851, the Green Lane and Goshenhoppen Turnpike Company was formed to raise funds by the sale of stock and the collection of tolls so improvements could be made.

The incorporation of the Red Hill Borough took place on November 13, 1902. The population was approximately 350 at that time. Like many other emerging communities, the borough had a railroad station (known as Hanover in 1875), the village hotel, and a public school. Cigar making was a major industry then. The geographical draft accompanying the petition for incorporation listed the area of Red Hill as 427 acres and 34 perches and showed about 93 buildings. The first election of borough officers took place on December 2, 1902, at the public house of Jesse Z. Hillegass which was located on the southwest corner of Sixth and Main Streets.

Elected to represent the borough in 1902 were Councilmen Jesse Z. Hillegass, Milton Hillegass, William Hillegass, William H. Kern, Allen G. Kline, John M. Pflieger, and Howard Willtraut. Kern was elected President of the Borough Council. John P. Kline was elected Secretary and John Reiter was named Treasurer. Also elected were John Bitting as High Constable, Constable and Tax Collector, W. Butterick as Assessor, and Oswin Reiter and Oswin K. Brey as Auditors. Local cigar manufacturer, Lucian Miller was elected as First Burgess.

Brothers, John and Allen Kline, Miller, and Reiter were among the founding fathers. Assuming leadership positions in the new borough, they took on the responsibilities of laying out the town and administering its public affairs after its organization as a municipality. Engaged in business enterprises that furnished a means of livelihood for a majority of the residents, they also parlayed their substance and influence to help the new borough grow. In addition to providing employment, they were involved in building and financing homes there. They sacrificed profit for the town’s future as many homes were built at cost to entice new residents to move in. By 1920, the population nearly doubled to a total of 664. In 1950, the count had only increased to 914. The year 1960 saw an increase to 1,086 and by 1980, there were 1,787 residents. Today, over 2,000 people call Red Hill their home.

Red Hill can lay claim to a native son who was elected to Montgomery County’s highest post. Local insurance man, Forrest Henry, was elected to a four-year term at the County Seat in 1956. One year before that, he was appointed by then Governor George Leader to the post of Deputy Insurance Commissioner for the Commonwealth.

Many borough services began in the ten years after incorporation. The borough established a fire department in 1904 and by 1910, an electric and water service. The Red Hill Electric Company Ltd. offered residents the privilege of electric light installation in their homes. Up until 1923, the company’s profits were capped at 4% with revenue above that being returned to the borough. The company put up 36 street lights and had 23 homes wired for electricity in time for a celebration on August 26, 1910 thus ushering in the dawn of electrical service for the borough. The company was short-lived. In 1923, The Pennsburg Electric Light Company assumed control, and later, that year, sold out to the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company.

Planning to provide a water supply for the town, the council purchased a 16-acre farm in Douglass Township, Montgomery County in 1907. They intended to develop a supply from the farm’s overflowing springs. It was never used for that purpose and eventually sold. In 1909, the borough purchased a 71-acre tract for $4,500. This site is about 9 miles north of Red Hill in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County. An agreement with the Pennsburg Water Company in 1911 provided that it pipe water to Red Hill. A stock company was formed to lay pipeline and install distribution facilities in town. As with the electric company, profits were capped at 4% with the revenue above that being returned to the borough. In 1923, when the Red Hill Electric Light Company was sold, the $16,000 realized from the sale was used towards the purchase of the Red Hill Water Company in 1924. The remainder of the $35,000 asking price was raised through the sale of bonds. The first Red Hill Water Commission consisted of Lucian B. Miller, John P. Kline, and Oswin D. Reiter.

Water pressure was improved in 1961 when a 128-foot elevated water-storage tank was erected off Fifth Street. Fifteen years later, the water supply was augmented by an artesian well drilled a half mile east of the borough on Sixth Street in Upper Hanover Township. The borough water company, originally operated by a water commission, was directly under the jurisdiction of the water authority.

A post office was established in the village of Red Hill in 1859 with Edwin N. Beysher as the first postmaster. The name was changed to RedHill in 1895 and back to Red Hill in 1905. It occupied several locations before moving to 359 Main Street in 1964. In 1970, the borough purchased the Red Hill Fire Hall. Built in 1924, the first floor was renovated for the post office and the second floor became a residence. The new post office had room for expanded service. In September of 1972, the U.S. Postal Service, through its Lehigh Valley Sectional Center, announced that the Red Hill facility would process all incoming and outgoing mail for Pennsburg and Red Hill.

Children in the Red Hill area attended Upper Hanover Township schools until 1902 when the borough’s incorporation brought about the formation of a new school district. The school directors elected in 1902 were Joseph Dyson, Cyrenious M. Kline, Joseph P. Kline, Oliver D. Miller, John Rauch, and John Von DerHeid. The teachers were William Kern, Sadie L. McClean, and Stella Roth. Doubling as principal of the school, Kern was paid $47 a month. McClean and Roth were paid $40 a month.

© 2016 Borough of Red Hill, PA

56 West Fourth Street

Red Hill, PA 18076

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Phone: 215-679-2040

Fax: 215-679-0527

info@redhillborough.org