The home was designed and built by William Hougentogler in 1876 – who served in the Civil War as a musician and then returned home. He designed and built homes in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and other Columbia homes – as well as the adjoining homes in the early 1900s. The home’s underground partial tunnel and secret attic room behind a removable bookcase have locals wondering if there is any Underground Railroad history connected with the home, but that is yet to be verified. What is certain is the rivertown boasts several verified UG homes with secret rooms and underground tunnels used to hide slaves in their quest for freedom. Columbia is the birthplace of the actual term “Underground Railroad” as this is where they designed and built false-bottom rail cars to move slaves through Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and on into Canada!
(Visitors to the home can book a 90 min walking tour by request led by local historian and expert Chris Vera from the Historical Society – which starts in the Markethouse leads groups around town on a walking tourwhere the UG homes are!)
The home then became the home and medical practice of Dr. Gardiner P. Taylor – who practiced as a physician and for whom the Taylor School was named after in Columbia.
Other notable owners were the Columbia Postmaster and Columbia Phone Secretary (Charles Taylor – 1930), a State House of Representatives and PA State Senator (Cleon Berntheizel – 1935), and the Deitrich family (1940s). Recently it was the Jonal Gallery – a gallery home for practicing artists and live music/theatre.
We fell in love with Columbia, PA and moved our family and our business to this beautiful part of Lancater County, PA. We live on a farmette where we homeschool our 5 children.