America250PA Announces Semiquincentennial Bell at the Hawley Silk Mill

The Pennsylvania Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial (America250PA), in partnership with Settlers Hospitality, announced today that it will place a bronze, permanent Semiquincentennial Bell at the Hawley Silk Mill later in the Fall of 2024, in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026.

America250PA staff; Settlers Hospitality founders, the Genzlinger family; and special guests, including Congressman Matt Cartwright, Drew Popish from the Office of Governor Josh Shapiro, PA State Senator Lisa Baker, PA State Representative Joseph Adams, and Wayne County Commissioner James Shook, attended the announcement today in celebration of the upcoming bell installation later this year.

“The America250PA Semiquincentennial Bells will lift up the stories of communities that have been untold or not widely known yet shaped the history here in the Commonwealth,” said Cassandra Coleman, Executive Director of America250PA. “America250PA is so excited to be dedicating its second Semiquincentennial Bell at the Hawley Silk Mill this fall to highlight the remarkable work of the individuals—immigrants, primarily women—who helped forge this great nation during the Industrial Revolution right here in Pennsylvania.”

Justin Genzlinger, CEO/Owner of Settlers Hospitality—the presenting sponsor of the Semiquincentennial Bell—shared his thoughts on the importance of the bell: “The Semiquincentennial Bell at the site of the Hawley Silk Mill will herald the story of immigrant labor that helped fuel the Industrial Revolution,” he said. “We’re proud to honor their place in history and preserve that legacy for their descendants who continue to call this community home. We look forward to this becoming another important destination along Pennsylvania’s Route 6 that will enrich the cultural experience for residents and visitors to the Pocono Mountains Lake Region.”

The Semiquincentennial Bell will include an inscription reading, “In the fabric of the 19th century, immigrant women and children were essential threads to the industrial economy as they worked in silk mills and factories like this one. Their descendants remain here.”

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Hawley Silk Mill, located in the scenic Pocono Mountains, has been a vital part of the region since 1880. Originally known as the Bellemonte Silk Mill, this beautiful landmark is still preserved today through the generous support of The Settlers Hospitality Group and includes two additional properties, the Cocoon Coffeehouse and Bakery, originally constructed for silk storage, and the J.S. O’Connor American Rich Cut Glassware Factory (now Ledges Hotel), a technological marvel of its time as one of the first in the nation to be powered by water and lit by electricity generated from its own electrical plant. Both are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Hawley Silk Mill is architecturally as impressive today as it was in 1880, constructed by hand with primarily immigrant labor in the High Victorian Gothic style, and believed to be the largest Bluestone building in the world. It also remains a symbol of the entrepreneurial spirit, grit and determination of the early settlers and immigrants, primarily young women, whose hard work ushered in the Industrial Revolution. This region is well known as the beginning of the labor movement, which included championing safer working conditions, child labor laws, and mandatory public education. The young female immigrants employed at the Hawley Silk Mill played a significant role in shaping the workplace safety and benefits that we all enjoy today.

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson will design the Semiquincentennial Bell site at the Hawley Silk Mill campus. The Wilkes-Barre, PA, based firm was the architect for the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia and designed the plan to repurpose the Hawley Silk Mill into the vibrant lifestyle center that it is today.

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