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Elegant Dining on Millionaires' Row

By Susan G. Sharp-Anderson

It begins outside. You turn up the circle drive to the entrance where a valet assists you. You climb the steps near the overgrown vines to the glass entry and then proceed through the door of this outstanding example of Italian Villa architecture.

Photo by Susan G. Sharp-Anderson - Click to Enlarge You have just entered 407 West Fourth Street, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the home of the late Peter Herdic. It is now The Peter Herdic House restaurant, owned by two sisters, Marsha and Gloria Miele, natives of Williamsport.

Peter Herdic (1824-1888) settled in Williamsport in 1853 and soon became instrumental in developing the city. He was the owner and president of Susquehanna Boom, and developed the lumber industry which made Williamsport the "lumber capital of the world.

" He bought the land which later became West Fourth Street, building his home and a four-story hotel. He even developed the rear entry horse-drawn streetcar, called the "herdic" to service the area. He sold lots to many other millionaires, who used Eber Culver, an architect, to design the many mansions along the row. It was reported that in the late 1800’s, Williamsport had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the United States.

The Peter Herdic House, designed by Culver, is set back from the street. It’s "Egyptian Lotus" columns, Corinthian style capitals and carved bracketed eaves, lend a graceful transition from the flat overhanging roof. The large square cupola crowns the building, and can be reached from the interior by a winding staircase. Photo by Susan G. Sharp-Anderson - Click to Enlarge

This historic architectural masterpiece was tarnished in the 1960’s by a three-story office addition that jutted out to the street. Punished for the blemish of this gem, a fire broke out in 1977, which not only destroyed the addition, but much of the house, and the property lay vacant in ruin until 1980.

Photo by Susan G. Sharp-Anderson - Click to Enlarge In 1979, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places and restored by the Millionaires’ Row Historic Homes, Inc. In 1982, Samuel Dornsife began designing the interior, and the house was sold to the Peter Herdic Partnership and the Preservation Fund of Pennsylvania. The restoration was completed in 1984 and named the top preservation project for that year by the Bureau of Historic Preservation. The Mieles opened their restaurant November 5, 1984 and purchased the property in 1989.

The Peter Herdic House is the place to have gala affairs and celebrations. With authentic Victorian decoration, the interior displays the beautiful staircase that winds up to the cupola on the third floor. Large groups are accommodated on the main floor, while seating upstairs is more private. Romantic interludes can be arranged on the balcony of the cupola. There’s an interesting bar area to the rear of the house, where a portal takes you to a side patio for outside dining under the wisteria and Venetian lanterns. The history of the house, including photos of Peter Herdic and the renovations are displayed throughout.

The restaurant is a family local business that specializes in using local growers and suppliers. Everything is fresh and made on the premises. Even Marsha and Gloria’s mother comes in to make the desserts. Marsha’s joy is "being a part of the special times in people’s lives", as they cater to special parties and groups, such as wedding dinners and receptions, anniversaries and birthdays.

The food is exquisite with "one favorite appetizer being the shrimp and crab roll wrapped in phyllo pastry, served over mesclun, mixed with glazed hazelnuts and Frangelico vinaigrette. Entrees include baby New Zealand rack of lamb with a mint apricot glaze and Gorgonzola stuffed tomatoes." Public broadcasting TV station, WVIA, awarded the "Chef’s of the Great Northeast" Award to The Herdic House at the Fete De Cuisine for Best Appetizer, Best Entrée, Best Dessert and Best of Show.

This AAA Triple Star restaurant’s hours are Monday through Saturday, 5-9pm.

You can visit at www.williamsport.org/herdichouse, or dine in this luxurious setting by traveling to Williamsport in north central Pennsylvania off Interstate 80. After your meal, you can take home a chocolate Peter Herdic house, or a hand-painted Christmas ornament replica of the home. Regardless, you are guaranteed a unique and delightful dining experience.

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Email:  Susan G. Sharp-Anderson

 

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