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HISTORY LIVES: Rotzel Coal and Lumber Yard


Charles Rotzel (1820-1896) was born in New Britain Township. When he came to Doylestown as a young man in 1847 he established himself as a wagon builder until opening a lumber yard in partnership with Charles Shade (1814-1868). The yard, situated between York (now Oakland Avenue) and State streets on the east side of South Main Street, was consumed by an arsonist’s fire in 1856.

They relocated to a vacant lot on the Magill property, fronting on the west side of South Main Street but back 200 feet near Oyster and Arabella alleys. After Shade’s death in 1868, Rotzel formed a partnership with William Raike, his son-in-law.

Again the well-known lumber yard was moved, this time to the northwest corner of West State and Clinton streets. The office faced West State Street near the five-points intersection, standing where today’s Ventresca Ltd. men’s clothing store is located at 143 and 145 W. State St.

Also around that time, Rotzel’s home was constructed on the northwest corner of State and Clinton, adjacent to his lumber yard. The large, old brownstone residence is no longer in existence, and the corner lot at 131 W. State St. is occupied by an office building.

Rotzel was a founding member of the First Baptist Church of Doylestown. Built in 1876, the Baptist Church was where he worshiped and held several governing offices. Now called the Landmark Building, it stands directly across the street from his home and the former coal and lumber yard.

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