Zelienople Historical Society
243 S. Main Street
Zelienople, PA 16063


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Zelienople Historical Society


history of Zelienople, PA

Baron Dettmar Basse (1764-1836) came to the New World from Germany in 1802. He purchased 10,000 acres of Depreciation Lands in western Pennsylvania, built a home which he called Bassenheim (Basse's home), established a sawmill, brickyard, and an iron furnace, and laid out a town which he named Zelienople for his eldest daughter Zélie.

Zélie Basse, still in Europe, was engaged to Phillipe Louis Passavant. Basse agreed to give them his blessing if they would come to America. Zélie and Phillipe Passavant were married in Frankfort in 1807 and then made the trip to America to live. Phillipe built a store on Main Street and became Zelienople's first merchant. He built a home next door, and the Passavant House remained in the Passavant family until Zélie and Phillipe's granddaughter Emma Passavant died in 1956.

Zelienople, PA history

The Passavant house was made available to the Zelienople Historical Society in 1975, and now serves as a museum, library, and the headquarters for the society.

Christian Buhl arrived in America from Germany on 1802 and built the Buhl House, now Zelienople's oldest existing building, in 1805. Buhl and his wife Fredericka Dorothea Goehring raised their eleven children there.

Christian Buhl was the town's hatter and furrier, and was later appointed an Associate Judge of Butler County. His descendants pursued business enterprises in many parts of the country and abroad, eventually assuming leadership roles in politics, commerce, and philanthropy.

In 1870, the Buhl and Passavant families celebrated an intermarriage when Zélie's and Phillipe's son Charles Sidney married Jane Buhl Randolph, granddaughter of Christian Buhl.

Buhl House, Zelienople, PA

In 1991 Buhl House was purchased by a Zelienople Historical Society member and one year later deeded to the Society for use as a second museum site.


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