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THE FARR LOFTS

THE FARR BUILDING

a brief history

The earliest history of the Farr Lofts’ location stretches back to the American Revolution. Allentown, then known as Northampton, played several historic roles in that epic. On September 18, 1777, when the British Army was about to occupy Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell was moved in a baggage caravan of the American Army to Allentown. It was done so because the British would have undoubtedly melted the metal of the 2,008 pound bell for canonballs. It was hidden in the basement of the Zion Church on Hamilton Street, a few blocks east of the Farr Lofts location, until June 27, 1778.
Little is known about the site until it was selected by American shoe magnate Harvey Farr as the location for the headquarters of his footwear company. Since the 1860s, the Farr family business had flourished and this 32,000 sq. ft., 5-story structure was to be its crowning glory. No expense was spared to construct the masonry and steel edifice and, when completed in 1927, its classic Revival style dominated Hamilton Street.
During the 1980’s, the Farr family sold the business and the building went through a succession of forgettable retail uses and the upper 4 floors went unutilized. In 2004 New York developers purchased the property. Plans for retrofitting the structure into luxury loft-style apartments began immediately. On December 1, 2005, the Farr Lofts were inaugurated with a public showing of a finished 2-bedroom model unit. The additional 19 units began occupancy in early 2006. And the rest, as they say, is history.

By the mid-1960's, a visit to Farr's for shoes had been a family tradition for generations of Allentonians. The expansive first floor was dedicated to the retail operation and the upper stories were for inventory storage, offices and manufacturing. By now Harvey Farr Jr. was running the show and the company had additional locations in Bthlehem, easton, and Harrisburg, as evidenced by this 1965 advertisement (bottom)...naturally, the arr's landmark building proudly dominated the ad.

The actual site of the Farr Lofts served as one of the four hospitals for American soldiers during the Revolutionary war. The plaque shown here commemorates that fact and can be seen today on the west wall of the building. It was dedicated in 1925 by the daughters of the American Revolution.