One of my favorite things to do is to research the history of a property. Any building or residence older than 50 years usually has great stories to tell.
A friend connected me with someone who was looking for information on a building they were remodeling. Recently purchased, she noticed that the apartment building had strange interior walls and hallways. It was thought that the large house on the corner of Cherry Street and S. Webster Avenue in Scranton, Pennsylvania was built in 1940.
I soon discovered that it was so much older and had many transformations since it was first built.
Accessed at Realtor.com
Purchased by 1331 S. Webster LLC (McKenna Investments) in 2019, the property sits on the corner of S. Webster Ave and Cherry St. in Scranton’s South Side.
At one point the building was part of a larger parcel of land that included the house at 713 Cherry Street, owned by the Augustyn/Augustin family and their descendants.
Deeds for the property in Lackawanna County can be found going back as far as 1906.
September 26, 2019 – Purchased by present owner, 1331 S. Webster LLC
February 13, 2004 – Deed Bk 1163, p 542
October 11, 1979 – Deed Bk 988, p675
October 1964 – Deed Bk 621, p71
January 4, 1950 – Deed Bk 497, p3
October 27, 1906 – Deed Bk 221, p358
February 25, 1892 – Deed Bk 156, p 185
The building has been used as an apartment building since at least the 1950s.
I found numerous people listing 1331 S. Webster Ave. as their address. I even found a report for an FBI raid on an apartment at that address that resulted in a foot chase in which a bank robber was apprehended!
Prior to being an apartment building, it may have had a store or offices on its ground floor level. Newspaper reports have the same family names living there from the 1920s to the 1950s.
In June 1927, a Mercantile Appraisement for a retail location was listed in the Scranton newspaper. The owner was M. Augustin.
The Scranton Tribune, June 25, 1930, p23 accessed at Newspapers.com
I believe this is Michael Augustyn. He and his wife Mary owned the home and in the 1920s and 30s, he is a coal miner. By 1940 he is retired, but the US Census shows that several of their children are living with them and they operate a grocery store. His daughter Stella is a clerk for the store.
In August of 1926, an advertisement for Rinso featured Mary Augustin’s quote and her 1331 S. Webster Ave. address.
The Scranton Times-Tribune, August 12, 1926, p21 accessed at Newspapers.com
Before 1926, I believe that the Augustyns owned the building at 1331 S. Webster, but were living in the house behind it at 713 Cherry Street (confirmed by Census records). In 1922 - 1930, mercantile appraisements were listed for M D’Aria or M. D. Aria. I have been able to find very little information on him, although a Martin D'Oria was listed in a Scranton City Directory as a Grocer. And I found a Martin and Amelia Doria from Italy living at 1331 S. Webster Ave. in 1920. I'm guessing they were living there (renting the building from the Augustyns?) and possibly living on the top floor and using the bottom as a grocery store.
There, the trail ran cold until I realized that I had seen a street name on some of the earlier deeds - Stone Avenue. A little search and it was discovered that South Webster Avenue used to be named Stone Avenue!
A Sanborn Insurance map accessed at the Library of Congress shows the corner of Cherry Street and Stone Ave. (now S. Webster Ave.) before the house was built.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for Scranton, Lackawanna County PA.
Accessed online at The Library of Congress website.
The Devaney family were the first owners of the home, as Thomas and Winifred Devaney were the ones listed as the sellers of the property in 1906 to Michael and Mary Augustyn.
Two of the early mentions I found for 1331 Stone Ave was for incidents with the children of Thomas Devaney.
On December 8, 1899 the Devaney’s four-year-old daughter, Bridget died.
Scranton Times-Tribune, December 8, 1899, p5 accessed at Newspapers.com
And one year earlier, on October 20 of 1898, another daughter had an accident.
The Scranton Tribune, October 20, 1898, p6 accessed at Newspapers.com
A little earlier than that, in September of 1893, I found a charge of assault against Thomas Devaney.
The Scranton Times-Tribune, September 26, 1898, p8 accessed at Newspapers.com
And this notification of Thomas Devaney and his first wife and child’s death in February of 1890 states that they had just erected a new house, most likely in 1889.
The Scranton Tribune, February 24, 1890, p3 accessed at Newspapers.com
As for the land the Devaney’s built their house on, I believe the earliest deed in 1892 was the sale of the land from George and Isabella Fisher to Thomas Devaney. It appears Thomas may have built the house before completing the indenture he made with George Fisher, as newspaper reports (above) state the house was built and the Devaneys were living there in 1889.
I don't believe the house was built by George Fisher, due to the newspaper report above, and also due to the fact that Fisher Place, a court nearby, indicates that the Fishers may have owned several plots of land in and around the 1300 block of Stone Street (S. Webster Ave).
After the sale of the house at 1331 Stone Street (now S. Webster Ave) the Devaney family returned to Carbondale, PA where they were originally from.
For those interested, more information on the property in Scranton and what it was used for through the years might be available at the Lackawanna County Courthouse, Recorder of Deeds or The Lackawanna County Historical Society.
Even though I have no personal connection to the property, I found myself drawn to its story. I'm sure it has more tales to tell! I cannot wait to see how 1331 S. Webster Avenue transforms itself this time.
Best wishes to its new owners and those working to remodel it!