This classic photo, courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society's City Views Collection, captures the 1868 view of the corner of Liberty and Fourth in downtown Warren. While its classic architectural style and soft familiarity blend nicely into town scenery today, the house was actually quite a stand-out at its time of construction. By August 1868, it had been completed and was the first brick veneer house with the first slated roof in Warren.
The house was contracted by successful politician of the time Judge William D. Brown. His futuristic building tastes only made sense, seeing as his father, David, built what is believed to be the first framed building in Warren County in 1808 Sugar Grove. In fact, Sugar Grove was actually known as Brownsville for quite some time.
Judge Brown took after his father in more ways than one. David Brown owned and successfully operated the county's first tannery in "Brownsville" and was the county's first man to receive legislative honors when he was elected to the State Assembly in 1822. Though his political career quieted after his return, his legacy in the political system lived on.
Vintage Warren: Before
Born in September 1823, Judge W. D. Brown graduated from Warren Academy 1841 and was admitted to the bar in December of 1847. He married Lucy Rogers in 1856 and the two had three daughters Mary, Kate, and Hattie. Judge Brown was the first elected District Attorney in Warren County and spent a time serving in the state legislature from 1863 to 1865. Judge Brown also took on the role of County Commissioner before 1880, at which time he was elected President Judge of Warren and Forest Counties.
Judge Brown filled the role until his retirement in 1891. While he lost his daughters Mary and Hattie in 1878 and his wife Lucy in 1896, he continued his residence at 318 Liberty until his death in 1918.
After her father's death, the only remaining daughter of Judge W.D. Brown, Kate, and her husband, John Galbraith Smith, took up residence in the historic home. However, the Brown reign of the corner of Liberty and Fourth came to an end a few short years later.
Ownership was transferred to Dr. Adam Follmer Yerg in 1936. Yerg attended Bucknell University, graduated from Franklin and Marshall College, and obtained his medical degree from Hahnemann Medical School in 1932. He began his medical practice in Warren in September, 1933. He married his wife, Dorothy Robinson, on May 27, 1939 and had two sons, Robert and Thomas. The family occupied 318 Liberty St. until Dr. Yerg's death in April, 1979, at which time ownership transferred to George D. Templeton, Jr.
After seven short years in the home, Mr. Templeton left the house and it remained unoccupied until the Citro family took over in 1993. The Citro family remains there today.
While slight changes can be seen in the architecture of the home, such as the missing bell tower which was taken down over the years, the 2012 photo of 318 Liberty Street, courtesy of Warren County Camera Club, depicts a home very similar to the one that stood those many years ago. Over time we have traded the house's neighbors for apartment buildings and the railroad tracks for traffic lights, but this beauty still remains to remind us every day of the town that once was.