Pretzels, lions and whiskey: What to know about historic Germantown

On May 16, 1833 the Village of Germantown, originally established in 1804 by German-speaking settlers from Berks County, Pa., was incorporated. 

Germantown, built on an engaging historic past, is part of German Township, one of the four original townships in Montgomery County. 

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Evening sun strikes this historic buildings along Germantown's Main Street.
Photo: Chris Stewart/Chris Stewart

Here are five things to know about the community, according to Germantown’s website: 

Founder designs community. Philip Gunckel, the founder of Germantown, laid out the town plat in 1814. The Gunckel Town Plat is a historic district and is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1806, Gunckel was elected to represent Montgomery County in the Ohio General Assembly and, 10 years later, became an associate judge of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. 

Business opportunities. Whiskey and tobacco made for a booming business for Germantown. The Mudlick Distillery was considered the largest in the country for many years, putting out 30 barrels of whiskey a day in 1847. Five cigar factories and 12 warehouses were part of the community until the 1970s. 

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The Germantown Pretzel Festival began in 1980.
Photo:  William G. Schmidt

One of a kind. Germantown’s covered bridge, built in 1870, is the only one of its kind, according to the Southern Ohio Covered Bridge Association. It is built with an inverted bowstring truss similar to suspension bridges.

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From silent films to blockbusters. The historic By-Jo Theatre opened at the turn of the century and is still in use today. Silent films were accompanied by a player piano or a hired musician. It is believed the theater got its name during a contest which offered a Flexible Flyer for the winner. Harold Kercher entered with a poem which ended, “I want that sled, BY-JO!” 

Charles Caudy of Tipp City photographs antique hand-drawn hose carts at Germantown’s 19th annual Antique Fire Apparatus Show sponsored by the Miami Valley Antique Fire Apparatus Association.  Over 40 fire fighting vehicles, some dating back to the 1800's, were on display at Veterans Memorial Park. The event also featured a flea market, food and hands on activities for children. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: Lisa Powell

King of the jungle. Resident Homer Kern created concrete lions on display in more than 10 states. Kern worked for Buckeye Concrete in the 1930s, and it had a mold in the shape of a lion. Kern made more than 300 of the 400-pound lions that can be found at libraries, parks, universities and businesses. When he retired at 95, Kern gave his last statue to Germantown.

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