Debbie Bertolet speaks glowingly of Boyertown.
“It really is incredible what we have here.”
We are sitting in a booth inside Fegley’s Reading Diner, which now sits inside the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles. Bertolet is the Museum’s Executive Director and a community advocate as part of the town’s Main Street program, Building a Better Boyertown.
The diner we’re sitting in once served hungry patrons traveling along Route 422 between Reading and Pottstown in Exeter Township, Berks County. Now, this relic of a bygone era is one of the signature exhibits at the museum, as well as a building block for things to come.
Museum visits are on the rise with more than 12,000 people coming through the doors last year. Visitors came from 44 of the 50 states and 16 countries, including Canada, England and the Netherlands.
“There’s more locals finally coming in, but they’re coming in from different states and different countries. We’re really amazed.
“We’re drawing more locals, but there’s still a lot to do.”
Annual events including the Truck Stops Here Mobile Madness Food Truck Festival and the annual Duryea Day Car Show have helped attract a local audience. Another big boost in traffic has been the live blacksmithing at the Jeremiah Sweinhart Carriage Factory.
“We want to make things as interactive as we can. When we have the blacksmithing on Saturdays, people love that.”
I visited the Museum to talk about the facility’s recent upgrades. The museum underwent a lengthy renovation this spring. Volunteers laid a new floor that makes the displays more accessible. New placards were installed for the collection of antique sleighs, and displays were cleaned and given makeovers.
But as the conversation continued, it led us outside the museum’s walls as Bertolet took me on a tour of three of the town’s most prominent businesses.
Two blocks from the Museum, along Philadelphia Avenue, is the Twin Turrets Inn, the former home of the town’s namesake Boyer family.
Here we met Marianne Deery. Marianne and her husband, Frank, have operated the historic home as a bed and breakfast for more than 20 years. Like Bertolet, she has strong ties to the community.
Though as mayor, hers are in a more official capacity.
Deery shows me around the house and takes me to the turret rooms. The corner towers, she tells me, were added after the Boyers went to Philadelphia for the July 4 celebration in 1876. Seeing that the architecture was popular among the city’s well-to-do, they brought the idea back to the Boyertown.
Bertolet also glowed about the property with a refrain I would hear throughout the afternoon – “It’s amazing that this place is here in our little community.”
Across the street from the Inn is The Peppermint Stick Candy Store, one the many independent businesses that have recently come to the downtown.
We chatted with owner Rachael Kehler, who opened the store on Washington Street in March 2015 before moving to the more high-profile storefront along Philadelphia Avenue last year.
The store offers a variety of candies, including vintage candies and gourmet truffles. You’ll also find a freezer full of Montgomery County’s own Nelson’s Ice Cream.
Like many of the local businesses, the growth of the Colebrookdale Railroad has lifted their sales.
Boyertown had always been well-connected to Pottstown. A 15-minute drive along Route 100 is all that separates the two communities. The Colebrookdale Railroad, which began running passenger excursions in the fall of 2014, has provided a more concrete link.
This September, trains will bring passengers to Pottstown Memorial Park for two major events: on September 9, passengers can ride the rails to the Vintage Base Ball game at the park, and on September 24, the train will deliver riders to the 14th Annual Carousel of Flavor.
But for Boyertown, the next big event is September 2. That's when the Museum takes over Boyertown Community Park for its 52nd Annual Duryea Day celebration. The event includes a classic car and truck show, flea market and trolley service to the Museum.
Duryea Day isn't just an opportunity to see classic cars on display; it's a day to day to see first-hand how Boyertown is driving forward.
If You Go
Saturday, September 2
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Admission: $7 Adults | Free for Children 12 and Under
Boyertown Community Park
419 S. Madison St
Boyertown, PA 19512