History of The Bakery
Tucked away behind Beefeaters' Restaurant (the former Carnegie Public Library) at 45 East Corydon Street, a small wooden frame building called the Herbig Bakery has served as the headquarters of The Bradford Landmark Society since May 1969. It is probably the oldest frame building still in use in the City of Bradford, and was well known as a bakery for over 80 years. An article in 1939 stated: "The Herbig Bakery is the oldest establishment of its kind in the city and although conducted under several changes of proprietors has always enjoyed a reputation for fair dealing and the excellence of its manufactures."
The Herbig Bakery can trace its history back to 1878, when the business was known as the "French Bakery". Operated by Celeste Gall, a native Frenchman who started the small bakery during Bradford's oil boom days, it delivered bread and pastries to all the hotels in town. In 1883, Gustav Herbig, an 18-year-old German immigrant, entered the employ of Gall as an apprentice. Herbig had been born in Strassburg, Germany on February 16, 1865, and immigrated to the United States at the age of fourteen.
In 1887, at the age of 22, Herbig bought out Celeste Gall, and began his own business. Shrewd businessman that he was, he never changed the name of the bakery, calling it the "French Bakery" for nearly 52 years, although one must assume that German pastries and bread were offered as well. In 1903 the New York Register wrote: "the premises occupied is spacious, commodious and thoroughly equipped and several men are employed, while the proprietor, Mr. Herbig, personally exercises close supervision over the establishment. All kinds of family and hotel bread, rolls, buns, pies, plain and fancy cakes, cookies, etc. are baked fresh every day from the best flour and other ingredients procurable. All orders are promptly filled and delivered free to any part of the city."
Herbig lived to be 74 years old, dying on the eve of his birthday on February 15, 1939. His son, Harry Herbig, found him, seated in a chair in the upper apartment over the bakery. His son, and two daughters survived him. Later, his granddaughter, Virginia Loveland Miles became as well known as Gus Herbig himself, operating the bakery for many years until the early 1960s.
Although the bakery building remained vacant for the next several years, "Freddie's Bakery & Pizza Shop" moved in by 1965. By 1968 the building was again vacant. In May of 1969, The Bradford Landmark Society was formed, and Mrs. Miles gave her permission for the use of the building to the Society for the next two years. Eventually the Landmark Society became the legal owner of Herbig's Bakery. We have been here since. Occasionally, people still stop in and ask us for fresh bread, even though the bakery itself has been "retired" for nearly 50 years!
In those early days, the Landmark Society ran the Bakery as well as the Firemen's Museum which was located over the fire station on Chestnut Street. In 1969, the Landmark Society sponsored Heritage Days, the proceeds of which helped create a museum and historical record depository, and the purchase of the Crook Farm.
Of course, as we now know, The Bradford Landmark Society became well known in the city, and the Crook Farm did indeed flourish. The little Herbig Bakery lives on, with countless visitors each year researching local history and learning more about the City of Bradford.