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THE PARRY BUILDING OR HICKS HOUSE

Submitted and published in the Langhorne Ledger by Sally Valone of the Historic Langhorne Association

  On April 4, 1780, Edward Hicks, son of Isaac & Catherine Hicks was born in Langhorne in the house his grandfather Gilbert Hicks, built of bricks brought from England to Four Lanes End in 1763.  The bricks were used as ballast on the ship on it’s journey to this country.  In the attic today you can see the original size of the building with old bricks and wood shingles. The low cedar roof is still visible today.  The roof line of most of the original house remains today at the northeast corner of the Parry Building – across from Langhorne Hotel and the Community House (Richardson House). 

Edward Hicks, the Peaceable Kingdom artist spent most of his life in Newtown, but he learned painting when he was apprenticed to a carriage maker in Hulmeville.  The Parry Building is still referred to as The Hicks House. 

Gilbert Hicks was a wealthy man. He bought the land between today’s Bellevue Ave. beyond Route  413 to Cherry Street for his house.  The Revolution revised his future.  “Gilbert Hicks was  an ardent Tory”, according to an old newspaper account.  After the Declaration of Independence in his capacity of High Sheriff, he opened court in the name of the King.  This offended patriotic citizens, and fearing for his life he escaped to Nova Scotia.  Gilbert’s son, Isaac purchased his father’s house when it was put up for Sheriff Sale.  Neglecting to make payments he lost the house which was then acquired by William Goforth, an early developer. William Goforth’s plan for subdividing did not succeed, and then James Flowers bought the Hicks House with 6 acres. 

In 1889 Pierson Mitchell, the executor of James Flowers’ estate conveyed the property to Joshua Tomlinson.  Tomlinson in turn sold it two years later to William Blakely Parry, a descendant of Thomas Parry who came to this country from Wales in 1694. 

William Parry lived in the Langhorne area all his life and worked with his father in a coal and lumber business at the foot of Langhorne Hill, near the train station. By 1901 he was well established in a prosperous fire insurance business and purchased the Hicks House from which he ran his business.  He moved with his wife and two children into a new three-story stone house at Station and Prospect Avenues in Langhorne Manor. Parry constructed the first telephone line and organized the Langhorne trolley company.  Before moving his insurance business into the Parry building, he remodeled it, adding a wing parallel to Bellevue Ave. and store windows facing Maple Avenue.

In 1903 the building changed hands again to George Tomlinson.  W. H. Vivian opened a restaurant and Taylor Praul used one of the stores for the Langhorne Transportation Company while residing in the dwelling above the store.  William Parry’s son, Henry purchased it in 1920 and began a major remodeling project.  It was transformed into a spacious 8 store-21 office complex plus two dwellings.

The 20th century saw a constant array of stores: Webb Dry Goods Store became Nangle’s when Judy Nangle Sloan’s mom (who worked at Webb’s) and her dad, Cliff  bought the store.  You could find anything imaginable there from cards and gifts to clothes and notions. At one time the building also held  Woolman’s  produce store, an American Store grocery, a dress shop, restaurants, a notions store, dentists, doctors and lawyer’s office, The Langhorne Cut Rate Pharmacy. Today, it is home to Leck’s Exterminators, Hicks House Cleaners, Mac’s Place, J. deSousa tailors, and The Langhorne Coffee House. Just recently, Mayor Blaydon performed a wedding ceremony at the Langhorne Coffee House when two customers who met there decided to get married. I would venture to say this building has been home to more business than any other in historic Langhorne.


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