The William Dietrich and Helen [Hoffman] Dietrich homestead is located along Specktown Road, Specktown, Lykens Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The home and property originally belonged to Hannah [Rickert] Riegle, the grandmother of Helen, who purchased it at the beginning of the 20th Century. Helen was raised there and it was there she gave birth to her daughter, Kathryn [Dietrich] Gasbarro, my mother. After Hannah died in 1919, William and Helen purchased the property from Hannah’s estate. This was also the home where I spent summers until I was around 13 years old.
On 26 July 1977, Helen [Hoffman] Dietrich died at Frey Village in Middletown, Dauphin County, and William Dietrich died on 9 November 1977 at the same place. Prior to Helen’s death and the admission of both Helen and William to Frey Village, their power of attorney Lee Reed (of the Gratz National Bank) decided to liquidate their assets in order to provide funds for their care. An “old fashioned” country “sale” was held at the property.
In 1977, shortly after the Riegle-Dietrich homestead was sold, Kathryn [Dietrich] Gasbarro (1915-2003) commissioned George Tschamber to do a watercolor painting of the homestead. Tschamber came highly recommended by several other homeowners in the Lykens Township area who themselves had paintings of their own homes done by him.
George Tschamber, of Williamstown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, was a nationally renowned free-lance artist and instructor in watercolor painting. He studied at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, Art Students League, Institute of Design and Construction of Brooklyn, and with a number of well-known water colorists. His works are found in many important public and private collections including the Art Association of Harrisburg, the Loveland, the Colorado Museum, and the Norfolk Museum.
This above painting was the result. It hung from 1978 through 2003 in the homes of Kathryn [Dietrich] Gasbarro in Ventnor, New Jersey and Absecon, New Jersey. Unfortunately, the Jersey shore climate, which included high humidity and frequent storms, took a toll on the work (significant “foxing”).. When I came into possession of it in 2003, it was in need of significant work if it were to be properly preserved. A successful restoration was completed through the conservation services of Ursula Hobson of Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, the names of the others in the Lykens Valley who commissioned Tschamber to do paintings of their home have been lost in the various moves made by me over the years. If anyone reading this blog knows of another homestead painted by Tschamber and would like to share the picture here, please add a comment to this post and/or email me via the “Contact” at the top of this post.