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Somerset County Then and Now

Then and Now

139 West Union Street

139 West Union Street


Address: 139 W Union St
Built: 1885
Builder: Unknown
Previously: Picking’s Livery
Owners: Jacob Sylvester Picking, Veterans of Foreign Wars
Extant: Yes

Jacob Sylvester Picking was born in Jenner Township in 1848 to Barnet Hildebrand Picking and Catharine Johnson. By 1860 the family had moved to Somerset Borough and was engaged in farming. Soon Barnet opened a hotel on Main Street, The Barnet House, which was on the site of present-day Findlay’s Pharmacy. Mr. Picking owned the property all the way to Union Street where he also had a livery which at some point Sylvester began to run. The Barnet House barely escaped the 1872 fire but the livery was destroyed. It was rebuilt but then destroyed again along with the hotel in the 1876 fire. Jacob once again rebuilt the livery but his father retired to farming and the site of the hotel was vacant until it was purchased by George R. Parker in 1883 and constructed the present building. In addition to the Livery, Jacob leased the Central Hotel which he ran and where he resided.

Birdseye map view with artists renderings of the location of buildings

In May of 1885 Jacob began construction of his house fronting Union Street but the livery remained between the house and the Parker Building. In March of 1886 Jacob sold his furnishings in the Central Hotel and moved into his newly completed house. In addition to the livery business, Mr. Picking engaged in farming. His wife was Maria Louisa Imhoff daughter of Joseph J. Imhoff whose house is now the Phillip Dressler Center for the Arts. One of the seven children was Jacob Sylvester Picking, Jr. who was well known as the owner of Picking’s Drug Store in Somerset. Another son, Joseph, ran the livery until 1915 and he engaged in farming. Jacob senior lived until 1937. His heirs retained the property until June of 1945 when it was sold to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 554 for $15,000. In May of 1950 the addition to the building was added, occupying the space where the livery was sited.