“When we first moved here, Andy [her husband] knew everybody, everywhere we went. And, now it’s funny because I go to the grocery store, and it’s like, ‘OK, I know everybody here,’” Jamie laughs. “… I feel like it’s my hometown now. It’s great.”
Jamie is originally from Lebanon. After graduating from Cedar Crest High School, she continued her education at Penn State, where she studied photography and advertising. After working for a stint in the Washington, D.C., area for National Geographic, Jamie found herself moving back to Pennsylvania.
“I wanted to move to Philadelphia. All of my friends lived in Philadelphia,” she says. “I was going back to Pennsylvania every weekend.”
Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Jamie moved to Philly. She was unable to find a job in her career field. “No one was hiring because of 9/11. I hit every magazine I could think of. So, that’s how Epic started.”
She had always dreamed of opening her own photography studio but says she never really had a “push” to get started. But in 2002, her dream became a reality.
“Since I was just starting Epic, I began waitressing at Maggiano’s [in King of Prussia] for income. I thought ‘Oh, I’ll only be here for a few months,’ and then that turned into a few years,” she muses. “On the bright side, this is where I met Andy; he was the restaurant manager there. When we started dating three years later, he was like, ‘If you’re going to do photography, then you just need to focus on it.’ So, he was really the push I needed to take a leap of faith and make it my full-time gig.”
In 2007, the couple moved to Elizabethtown, Andy’s hometown, and had a quaint backyard wedding a few months later. Now the pair have three children – Isla, 9, Siena, 6, and Lucca, 3 – and own three businesses (Epic Photography, Pita Pit and Fresh Cafe). They couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
“We love everything local. We shop as much as we can in town; we eat out as much as we can in town. We get the girls enrolled in activities in Elizabethtown as much as is available,” Jamie says. “ … I can probably go a good three weeks without ever having to leave Elizabethtown. Everything I need is right here.”
Epic Photography: “What’s In a Name?”
“I almost can’t look at life without my camera because I feel like I’m missing something. I feel like there are these moments you capture in photographs that just live on and on and on, forever,” she says. “I feel that when I have my camera, it’s just part of me. Also, no matter how bad I feel or if I’m having a bad day, as soon as I pick up that camera, after 10 minutes go by, it’s like the whole world doesn’t exist.
It’s just me and that camera and whatever I see through it. It’s almost like therapy.”
The name “epic” came as the result of a contest.
“So, when I first started Epic, it was with my friend. She was going to do the marketing side, and I was going to be the photographer. We couldn’t figure out a name, so we decided to have a contest with friends,” she recalls. “It was a friend of a friend [who won the contest], and her definition of epic was ‘telling a story that’s beyond ordinary,’ and we just thought that was great; like we’re telling a story beyond ordinary photos.”
Fourteen years later, Epic Photography has accumulated numerous awards, continues to be published in several publications, and takes epic photographs of weddings, engagements, senior portraits, newborns, infants, toddlers, family, and even now branching into commercial photography. “Epic wouldn’t be where it is without the opportunities Elizabethtown has afforded us,” Jamie remarks. “From the people and other businesses to the location and beautiful settings, Elizabethtown has helped make Epic what it is today.” Epicphotostudio.com.
What Led Us Here?
Andy took over as owner of the Pita Pit in Elizabethtown in 2014, and his other fresh-eating endeavor, Fresh Café, joined forces with Pita Pit and Funk Brewing that same year. Andy has more than 20 years in the food industry, but what led to the creation of these healthy-eating establishments was his second-born daughter, Siena.
“I had a restaurant out in Annville called Fresh Café, and that’s what it was. It was geared toward what can I serve my daughter and how can I get food on the go to be healthier. That’s where the concept came from,” says Andy. “Then, I saw Pita Pit, and it was great. Now I’m proud that my kids can eat at a place like this. Every step kind of led into that, because of Siena.”
Siena was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome two days before her first birthday. Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a rare genetic disorder that occurs in approximately one out of every 15,000 births and is caused by an abnormality of chromosome 15.
Signs and symptoms of PWS may include poor muscle tone, distinct facial features, poor growth and physical development, food craving and weight gain, speech problems and more. The Schoenbergers always have to keep a check on Siena’s daily food regimen, and Jamie says she usually spends hours on Sunday preparing the family’s lunches and dinners for the following week.
Andy says when Siena was born, she weighed a little over 3.5 pounds. Her muscles were extremely weak, causing her to be in the neonatal intensive-care unit for 17 days; she had trouble breathing, eating and had to undergo numerous tests. At the time, there was not a lot of information about her diagnosis, which prompted Andy and Jamie to start Siena’s HUGS Foundation.
According to the foundation’s website, “Siena’s HUGS is working to develop special programs for physical activity, artistic and musical expression and healthy living workshops. It is our dream to one day open a facility where all of these programs can operate under one roof.” For more information about PWS and Siena, visit youcanhug.com.
The early settlers of Elizabethtown were primarily Scots-Irish and Pennsylvania Dutch. Peter Bezaillion, a French explorer and fur trader, built “Old Peter’s Road,” which journeyed east from Bainbridge to Chester County. For a while, it was considered the main route between Philadelphia and the west. It caused Elizabethtown to play an important factor in the westward expansion of the nation during the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1753, Barnabus Hughes purchased the Sign of the Bear Tavern, which was a public house, before moving to Baltimore in 1761. While living in Baltimore, Hughes divided the acreage that surrounded the tavern and eventually laid out a small town, which he named Elizabeth (Towne) in honor of his wife.
Construction of the first railroad began in the 1830s. The first station was built on West High Street. In 1915, a new station was constructed out of Indiana Limestone in a similar style to the Masonic Homes. Renovations started in August 2009 and were funded by $9.3 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The station was completed in 2011 and is now a source of pride in the area. Elizabethtown’s Amtrak Station averages annually a ridership of approximately 109,834, and it is a stop for the Keystone Service that connects Philadelphia and Harrisburg, as well as for the Pennsylvanian, which runs between New York City and Pittsburgh.
Getting to Know Elizabethtown
According to its website, the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown was founded as the Masonic Homes of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1910, offering services to aging Freemasons and their spouses. The 1,400-acre campus has grown into a continuing care retirement community, including on-site farms, a farmers’ market, health care center, children’s home, childcare center, adult day care, short-term rehabilitation, hospice services and residences for more than 1,880 individuals.
The Masonic Village in Elizabethtown has evolved so much from its early beginnings. What started with a series of farms on Conoy Creek has blossomed into a highly regarded establishment that intertwines itself with the entire community of Elizabethtown.
The Masonic Village orchard has been a feature of the land for 100 years, and the farm market and bakery are open all year to the public. The Orchard View Cafe is the most recent addition to the Masonic Villages Farm Market, and it features treats for all ages.
The Masonic Village allows guests to visit its campus and view the lush gardens, take photographs (engagement, wedding, prom and other occasions), and even conduct wedding ceremonies on the grounds. It also plays host to the Elizabethtown Area High School’s senior prom annually. (Please, contact Masonic Village’s event planning department for assistance and scheduling of any commercial photo shoots or special events.)
The Masonic Children’s Home has been in operation since 1913. The Pennsylvania Freemasons have since provided “a safe haven and changed the lives of more than 2,100 children,” according to its website. Today, the children’s home provides care for up to 40 school-age children. All youth from Masonic Village receive financial support to attain higher education if they choose to do so at their preferred institution. Masonicvillages.org.
Elizabethtown College was chartered in 1899 by members of the Church of the Brethren. The purpose of the College was “to give such harmonious development to the physical, mental, and moral powers of both sexes as will best fit them for the duties of life and promote their spiritual interests,” as expressed by the founders. The Church of the Brethren relinquished its governance role at the College in 1993.
Today, and even then, Elizabethtown College’s commitment is to “educate for service,” believing that learning is most noble when used to benefit others. The college is an independent, selective and residential coeducational college located on 203 acres. The college boasts approximately 1,800 undergraduates from nearly 30 states and 40 foreign countries.
The college’s location makes it a short drive to Harrisburg and Hershey. Elizabethtown College also has more than 80 clubs and organizations, a large number of intramural and clubs sports, and 22 NCAA Division III athletic teams. Also of note, 85% of the student population lives on campus, meaning inevitable expansion for the campus in the future.
The college continues to carry on its commitment of service within the community through various traditions, such as Campus Improvement Day, which has continued annually for more than a century. Since 1994, hundreds of college students have participated in the “Into the Streets” event, which is a service-learning experience that involves helping local residents in need. Etown.edu.
Brothers William and Frederick Klein founded the Klein Chocolate Company in 1913. Klein Chocolate was the largest milk chocolate factory in the nation by 1922, producing 250,000 bars a day. Emigration records suggest that their father, Gottfried Klein, a married brick maker, came from a small village near Lubawa, roughly 70 miles east of Gdansk in modern-day Poland. An online article states that the Kleins were part of the largest German immigrant wave that brought more than 1 million Germans to the United States.
The brothers began their chocolate entrepreneurship after working for the Hershey Chocolate Company. They became members of Milton Hershey’s research team and worked under him until they had learned enough to establish a company of their own.
Mars, Inc., purchased the Klein Chocolate Company in 1970. The original structure dates back to 1915, but because of production demand, it has been renovated and expanded several times. Today, the company employs approximately 75,000 worldwide, and it continues to contribute to the local economy, as well. Mars.com.