Those sturdy Weaver pianos still endure

Young men assembling Weaver pianos

In my column a couple of months ago on the Weaver Organ and Piano Company, I asked readers to share their stories about with the company and its instruments. I have heard from several people about their Weaver encounters, as well as from some that would currently be happy to give away a piano to anyone willing to come and get it.

Ellen and Bob Meckley shared the account below, via Nancy Meredith. I have a feeling their Weaver piano is going to be in that house for a long, long time. Ellen writes:

In the late 60s or early 70s, our neighbor, Mr. Trimmer came to our door with a rolled-up newspaper telling us that it represented the dimensions of his piano, and that if it fit into our scheme of things, and if we wanted the piano, all we had to do was move it, and it was ours. Being a singer and coming from a musical family, we, of course, said yes.

Mr. Trimmer, (who is deceased) worked at the Weaver Organ and Piano Company and had purchased this piano for his daughter, Miriam (who is now deceased), as she was a piano teacher for many years. We all happened to go to the same church, so we knew each other. So, my husband and two neighbors rolled the piano up the street and into our house. The piano sat in the living room for several years, and was enjoyed by me, family and friends. Eventually our two children took piano lessons and practiced on it, and we decided we needed a music room. So, my creative minded husband thought we could move it to the basement. Since I had full confidence in him, we tackled the task at hand.

It took us three days – one day to get ready, one day to move it, and one day to put everything back in its place. We had to remove a door from the dining room to get to the kitchen, we had to remove the sink from the wall, take off the door to the basement, build a plank to go down three steps to the landing, remove the door to the outside, and then remove the nine steps to the basement floor.

Now how did we move the piano, you ask? We rolled it through two rooms to the kitchen, at which time we attached industrial nylon ropes around the piano, and then connected a block and tackle, which went out our kitchen window to the end of our yard and wrapped around the telephone pole. We slowly lowered the piano down the three steps to the landing, and then to the basement, to our neighbor, standing at the bottom to guide its direction. At the almost perfect landing, one of the nylon ropes tore, and the top corner of the piano hit the wall, making only a scratch on the piano, and none on the wall.

So, the third day we had to put everything we removed back to its original state. Miraculously no one was hurt, and the piano was still in tune – which goes to prove the quality and durability of Weaver Pianos.

We often joked that if and when we moved, the piano would go with the house. We have moved from our house of forty-eight years, nearly three years ago, to a condo. Our piano is still in the basement, where our daughter and family now live.

So, who knows the fate of this beloved piano? Anybody want a really good piano? (Just for the moving.)

Here are links to my several previous posts on the Weaver company, its products and students.

York woman remembers playing Weaver piano in large concerts.

Dempwolf architects designed Weaver building.

More on how the Weaver factory complex grew.

Famed musicians praised Weaver instruments.

Posted in 1870s, 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, entertainment, manufacturing, music, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Those sturdy Weaver pianos still endure

York countians had a hand in developing steam powered transportation

Lewis Miller drawing of the shaping of the iron hull of the steamboat Codorus

While doing some research on Phineas Davis and his York locomotive for an upcoming column, I realized I had never posted my column from some time ago on John Elgar and his Codorus steamboat. Elgar was a member of York’s Quaker community, as was Davis, and his iron steam boat was also fabricated at the Webb, Davis and Gartner shop on Newberry Street. The launch of the Codorus on the Susquehanna occured just six years before Davis’s successful anthracite coal burning steam engine powered the York to victory in the Baltimore & Ohio competition for a practical steam powered locomotive. The cylindrical boilers of both appear to be of similar design.

Here is the Elgar column: Continue reading

Posted in 1820s, 1830s, ferries, inventions, iron, Lewis Miller, manufacturing, railroads, steam power, Susquehanna River, transportation, Universal York, York County, York Haven | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on York countians had a hand in developing steam powered transportation

York County Union and Confederate ties to Cold Harbor

87th Regiment shown left of center. Courtesy of American Battlefield Trust

Even if you are not a die-hard fan of Civil War history, you might have heard of the Battle of Cold Harbor, fought in Hanover County, Virginia, not far northeast of Richmond. The conflict, fought June 1-3, 1864, resulted in extremely heavy causalities to Grant’s Union forces. Click here for a synopsis of the battle and casualty statistics. General Grant is often quoted as saying that one of his biggest regrets was ordering the fatal assault on June 3.

It was especially important to York countians since the 87th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, a regiment made up of men from York and Adams counties, was in the midst of the battle. My great-grandfather, Amos Burk, had his arm amputated as a result of being wounded while part of a picket line there on the night of June 1. It turns out he was luckier than many of his comrades.

But there is another York County connection. Virginian Ella Bassett Washington had come to Clover Lea, her parents’ plantation near Cold Harbor to ride out the war. Instead, she found herself in its midst. She kept a journal of those harrowing days in June. That journal passed down to her niece, Lucy Neville Mitchell, who was married in September 1902 at Clover Lea. Her groom?–Stephen Fahs Smith, son of S. Morgan Smith. So Mrs. Smith and her aunt’s Civil War journal came to York County.

Here is my recent York Sunday News column with more on Ella Bassett Washington and Lucy Neville Mitchell Smith: Continue reading

Posted in 1860s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, Civil War, Episcopalians, Great Britain, historic preservation, industry, manufacturing, Moravians, patents, Universal York, Virginia, West Virginia, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on York County Union and Confederate ties to Cold Harbor

Piano student remembers playing Weaver concerts

In my recent York Sunday News article on the history of the Weaver Organ and Piano Company, I invited people to share any memories connected with Weaver.  A couple of responses were from individuals who fondly remembered playing in recitals at the Weaver studios in the factory complex.

Dorothy Johns Gard was a student of York area music teacher J. Carl Knisley. He lived in Wrightsville and had a studio on Beaver Street in York, so he drew from a fairly wide area.  Dorothy was a teenager from Columbia, as were the Leedy twins, and all three played in the Professor Knisley’s recitals that showcased his best students.  Those recitals were sometimes put on in the Weaver studios.  Dorothy believes the photo above showing 15 students ready to play on eight pianos was at Weaver.  It is the October 1933 issue of Etude magazine.  Dorothy is third from left.

The photo below is from the March 1934 Weaver Piano News.

Continue reading

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York’s Weaver Organ and Piano Company 1870-1959

Weaver building before 1904, when the pediments were removed from the first building and the fourth floor added

Who knows how many thousands of sturdy musical instruments emanated out of the growing complex of buildings that stood imposingly for 136 years at the intersection of Broad and Philadelphia streets in York? The York County History Center Library/Archives has 16 volumes of shipping records, up through 1944, and it would be a task to enumerate them all, not to mention estimating the last 15 years of production.

Since the tragic March 2018 fire, which resulted in the lost lives of two York City firemen, Ivan Flanscha and Zachary Anthony, only part of the 1892 section still stands. The rest is blackened rubble.

After the March 2018 fire

Weaver memories still abound. Some of the workers are still around, perhaps in your family. And I would bet more families than not have members that remember doodling around on grandparents’ parlor organs or taking lessons on the formidable uprights or more fashionable 20th century spinets.

Weaver instruments were shipped all over the world. No doubt they are still played in areas far and wide. See below for my recent York Sunday News column on the Weaver history and links to some previous blog posts with more illustrations. I will sharing more photos and information in future posts.

What are your ties to York’s Weaver organs and pianos?

There is a good chance you have had an encounter with a Weaver made piano or organ. Many thousands of the instruments were manufactured during the 89 years of the company’s existence. In 1929, for example, their 200 skilled workers were turning out 45 pianos a day to be shipped all over the world.

A 1936 issue of Weaver Piano News published “For benefit of Weaver Piano Owners, Dealers and Salesmen,” includes photos of Weaver pianos being hauled 25 miles from the nearest railroad station by donkey cart over snowy roads to Yenchin University in Peiping [now Beijing], China. The article included a reproduced letter from Bliss Wiant, music professor and representative of the Methodist Board of Foreign Missions, explaining that he is using a Weaver grand piano and “quite a few” upright Weavers and Yorks in his mission of developing American music in China. He attests that the pianos stand up to the hot, humid Chinese summers and very cold, dry winters without loss of tone or action.

J. Oliver Weaver (1849-1885), York musician and teacher, started assembling organs in a warehouse near Farmer’s Market on West Market Street in 1870. The Weaver Organ Company was incorporated in 1882 and built their own building, designed by the noted Dempwolf architects, that year on Broad Street between Philadelphia and Walnut streets. The factory manufactured pump organs in their entirety, mainly the parlor type for homes. After J.O. Weaver’s early death the firm grew under members of the Gibson and Bond families.

A full page advertisement in the 1904 book York, Pennsylvania, celebrating York ‘s manufacturing success, shows the facility greatly expanded, with sizable additions in 1892, 1898, and 1904 until it covered a city block bounded by Philadelphia, Broad and Walnut streets and Chain Avenue. Weaver closed down in 1959, but the building stood until the tragic March 2018 fire that cost the lives of two York City firefighters and destroyed much of the complex.

Weaver organs were popular for decades, living up to the slogan “Easy to operate. Hard to wear out.” My grandparents were among the thousands with an organ in the parlor; as a child I would amuse myself on it while the grownups visited in the more casual living room. Catalogs in the extensive Weaver Organ and Piano archival collection at the York County History Center show the wide variety of woods and finishes available.

By 1908 Weaver was running full production lines for both pianos and organs. Tastes were changing in the 20th century, and organs were discontinued around 1916. The company name was changed to the Weaver Piano Company, concentrating on grand and upright pianos, including upright player pianos. These pianos also came in a variety of woods, finishes and styles. The York County History Center has copyright registrations for the familiar Weaver, Livingston and York brands, each showing their own distinctive font. Research indicates Weaver also produced Lincoln and Mercer branded pianos as well as private brands for stores such as York’s Everhart Organ and Piano Company at 124-127 South George Street.

Weaver’s offered piano lessons, taught by “modern methods” in their own studio. A group of their students,” all from families with new Weaver pianos,” are shown in their July 1932 newsletter. The Weaver retail showroom was in the heart of town at 39 West Market Street. Newsletter, catalogs and ads also carried endorsements by musical luminaries of the day, such as composer and conductor Victor Herbert and singer Jessica Dragonette.

The Weaver Piano Company fully participated in World War II production, developing a “plastic plywood plate piano” that reduced the metal content of a spinet piano from 165 pounds to 38 pounds while still keeping a good tone. This Weaver Field Type piano was used by the Army, Navy, Red Cross, USO and others for camps, field hospitals, hospital ships and canteens all over the world. More than half of all United States built pianos in 1943 and 1944 were these Weaver field pianos.

On the home front, demand for smaller pianos had grown, down from the upright to the studio and console and the smallest, the spinet. In the late 1930s Weaver introduced the Vertiforte and also the Verti-Mignon, emphasizing their quality and tone as well as their being more compatible with modern home furnishings. Shoppers again had the choice of various styles, from Colonial to Louis XV.

Reputation for quality workmanship and the willingness to adapt to changing tastes in size and design over the years carried the Weaver company through the Great Depression and World War II. By the time of the 1959 plant closing, radio, television and phonographs were more popular alternatives to gathering around the piano in the home. One source says there were 280 United States piano manufacturers in 1920 with only 18 left by 1959. The economy was also becoming more global, opening the door to imported pianos.

I wonder too if the durability of the Weaver products themselves might have also contributed to less demand. In my family an upright York lasted several generations. And once you had one of those behemoths it was not an easy item to get rid of. I think I kept taking piano lessons as a teen for seven years (with mediocre results) just because it was there.

I would be happy to hear your experiences with those very durable Weaver pianos and organs.

The drawings for the original 1882 Weaver factory are in the Dempwolf architectural collection at the York County History Center.

This post illustrates how the Weaver factory grew.

Famed composer and conductor Victor Herbert visited the Weaver factory when he was in town.

Piano student remembers playing in multi-piano concerts.

Posted in 1870s, 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 2010s, architecture, business, celebrities, craftsmen, entertainment, industry, manufacturing, music, pianos, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on York’s Weaver Organ and Piano Company 1870-1959

Views from the Mifflin House in the 1890s

View from the Mifflin House of neighboring farm with river and Wrightsville in background

The historic stone home in Hellam Township which we know as the Mifflin House was occupied from about 1800 until 1856 by the Mifflins: Revolutionary War patriot Jonathan Mifflin, his wife Susanna Wright Mifflin and their son Samuel Mifflin. All three of the Mifflins are said to have participated quite actively in the Underground Railroad, sheltering escaping slaves at their home and arranging their safe passage further north.

A better image of neighboring farm from the Mifflin House with river and Wrightsville in background to the right

After the deaths of his parents, civil engineer Samuel W. Mifflin sold the property to Jacob Huber in 1856. It remained in the Huber family, mostly used as a summer home, for over a hundred years until Jacob’s granddaughter Anna M. L. Huber (founder of the Visiting Nurses of York County) sold it to the Blessing family in 1959. (The Mifflins called the property Hybla after an ancient Sicilian mountain known for its flowers and bees, and the Hubers continued the descriptive name for the hilltop retreat.

A fairly recent view from the Mifflin House with neighboring farm to the left and Wrightsville to the right

Miss Huber (1874-1971) kept several photo albums of herself and her young adult friends from York’s well-known families enjoying the pleasures of Hybla. These albums are now in the York County History Center archival collections. The photos from Huber’s albums presented here, probably taken in the 1890s, show views of the Susquehanna River and Wrightsville taken from Hybla. Today trees partly obscure the view, but these photos help show why this high ground was so important during a Union and Confederate clash there in late June 1863, only thirty years before Miss Huber and her friends enjoyed the peace of the hilltop and its spectacular view.

View from Mifflin House in the 1890s of Susquehanna River, 1868 covered bridge and Wrightsville

The long covered bridge across the Susquehanna in the above photo opened in 1868; it was built on the same piers as its predecessor, which had been deliberately burned to prevent the Confederate Army from advancing any further east on June 28, 1863. The 1868 bridge was destroyed by violent windstorm, perhaps a hurricane, in September 1896.

For more on the status of the current campaign to save the Mifflin House, here is a link to Randolph Harris’s interview on WITF’S Smart Talk with Scott Lamar on May 14. The Mifflin House segment is the last 20 minutes of the hour-long broadcast. Click Download to hear the interview.

Click here for my previous posts with on the Mifflin House.

Preservation Pennsylvania has joined the Kreutz Creek Valley Preservation Society and the general public to support the preservation of the Mifflin House.

Posted in 1800s, 1850s, 1860s, 1890s, 1950s, bridges, Civil War, Hellam Twp., historic preservation, Revolutionary War, Susquehanna River, Underground Railrod, Universal York, York County, York County History Center | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Views from the Mifflin House in the 1890s

More on York’s Weaver Organ and Piano Company factory complex

1882 Weaver building designed by Dempwolf architects


As promised in a recent post, here are more graphics showing the remarkable growth of the Weaver Organ and Piano Company factory in just 22 years.

The 1882 building, designed by the Dempwolf firm of architects was of fair size, but the 1892 and 1898 additions added much more room to produce the parlor organs and upright pianos of the day.

The factory was expanded to the east in 1898, but it still had three main floors and retained the cupola and triangular pediments.

The 1904 renovations were vertical, adding a fourth floor, another smokestack and the one-story building on the angle to the thriving business.

As you can see these Google satellite views, the Weaver complex had not changed much since 1904 until the tragic fire that cost the life of two York City firefighters in March, 2018. The products did change with the times, though. Organ production ceased about 1916 and “organ” was eventually dropped from the company name. My upcoming York Sunday News column will share more of the history of the company and its instruments.

I am also reposting two Dempwolf drawings from the York County History Center Library/Archives below. The first one shows both the floor plan and elevations of the 1882 building.

The other shows a cut-away view.

Dempwolf drawing, 1882 showing elevation and section

We have some sizable industrial buildings in the York area still turning out manufactured goods, but I am fascinated by the number of huge, multistoried factories that operated here over 100 years ago, employing many workers turning out quality products. Some of the buildings are now gone, but Google satellite view shows quite a few still standing. Many have been repurposed into apartments and other uses while some still await renewal. It is easy to spend hours poring over the 1903 Frederick Roe Atlas of the City of York and Goggle satellite views, comparing the blocks taken up by major industry then with the present day configuration. (The 1903 York City atlas, combined with the Beach Nichols 1876 Atlas of York County is available at the York County History Center bookstore.)

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Astronauts Armstrong and Scott rescued by York Countian and his crew

Astronauts and USAF Pararescue team. Huyett in center back. (NASA photo)

We might be familiar with the quote “Houston, we have a problem” from the Apollo 13 flight to the moon in 1970 (actually a slight misquote) but not as familiar with a similar phrase: “We have a serious problem here,” uttered by astronaut David Scott, to Houston Control just four years earlier.

Scott as his fellow Gemini 8 astronaut, Neil Armstrong, had just performed the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit, when the mission went terribly wrong. If that incident, on March 16, 1966, had not eventually had a happy ending, the whole United States space race would have had a serious setback, with the possibility of it being complete scrapped. Here is my recent York Sunday News column with the story of the open sea rescue of the astronauts and of the York County native that played a big part in it.

Aboard the USS Mason. Armstrong, Moore and Scott standing; Neal and Huyett kneeling. (NASA photo)

York County native helped save astronauts

March marked the 52nd anniversary of the manned space mission of Gemini 8, whose crew, Neil Armstrong and David Scott, successfully performed the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit. The docking came on March 16, 1966, ten hours after Gemini 8 blasted off from Cape Canaveral in pursuit of the Agena target rocket. After the initial success, however, the mission quickly went awry.

When Gemini came out of a dead communication spot, NASA Houston Control heard Scott’s voice “We have a serious problem here.” Locked together, both Gemini and Agena were spinning wildly. At the controls, Armstrong detached the Gemini capsule, but it continued to spin. As it reached one revolution per second the astronauts vision blurred with loss of consciousness imminent. Armstrong fired the reentry thrusters, which stabilized Gemini 8 in orbit, but that action used up 75 percent of those rockets’ fuel. The only move possible, as commanded by Houston, was to renter the atmosphere immediately and splash down where there was a chance of rescue. If they did not survive, besides the tragic loss of life, it could very well mean the end of the United States space program. There would have been no walk on the moon, no space stations, no Mars rovers, at least not by the United States.

We know now that the episode had a happy ending, but we may have forgotten that a York County native played a significant role in the rescue and recovery of Armstrong, Scott and the Gemini 8 capsule. United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Larry D. Huyett (1937-2011) headed the pararescue team that parachuted into the vast Pacific to save the astronauts and secure the space capsule.

Larry D. Huyett grew up in Manchester, graduating from Manchester (Northeastern) High in 1955. He attended Millersville State College for a year and worked at York Container for nearly a year before enlisting in the Air Force in 1957. After completing rigorous training, Huyett became a member of the elite USAF Pararescue Service. These individuals had to be “qualified parachutists, medical technicians, SCUBA divers, mountain climbers, survival experts and firefighters,” according to an Air Force Times article written in 1966, about the time of the Gemini 8 rescue. The article also points out that in 1966, of 2,500 Air Force candidates interviewed for the pararescue training, only 16 were selected and 12 or less were expected to graduate.

After training, Huyett was stationed on Okinawa with the 33rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, joined by his wife Fern and young son Scott. As he told the York press two weeks later, on March 16th he was in charge of his three person rescue team; Staff Sergeant Huyett, Seaman /First Class Eldridge Neal and Seamen Second Class Glenn Moore were on a routine mission in their C-54 plane, essentially a Douglas DC-4 retrofitted for transport and rescue. The 170 Air Force flying paramedics were constantly on duty, ready to answer distress calls, civilian and military, on land or sea. When the call came in they thought it might be a Japanese fishing boat in trouble. Their pilot was directed to a remote spot in the Pacific where Gemini 8 should splash down. Huyett, Neal and Moore jumped from 1,000 feet. The pilot then made a lower pass, dropping the flotation collar and rescue raft. Landing extremely close, Huyett and the others floated over to attach the collar, which took about 20 minutes, and secure their inflated survival raft. As soon as they ascertained that Armstrong and Scott were all right, Huyett radioed that information to the plane which passed it on to Houston and the world.

Huyett related that when the space capsule’s hatches were opened, the astronauts said “We’re very glad to see you.” Astronauts and rescuers introduced themselves to each other. With a laugh, Huyett said “I don’t know who else they expected to see out there.”

It took over three hours for the destroyer USS Leonard F. Mason to arrive to pick up the astronauts, pararescue team and Gemini 8 spacecraft. Armstrong and Scott elected to stay in the capsule, while Huyett, Neal and Moore waited in the raft. Huyett said they tried not to bother the astronauts, which was probably just as well, since Armstrong and Scott reportedly suffered seasickness bobbing on the sea for those three hours.

Photos show the astronauts and rescuers jubilantly posing in front of the retrieved Gemini 8 aboard the USS Mason. As the destroyer docked at Okinawa, “…well inside the restricted U.S. military harbor, crowded with ships being loaded for Viet Nam,” they were met with a crowd of servicemen and families, a “Welcome Astronauts to Okinawa” banner, military honor guard and band. Three NASA officials, including astronaut Walter Shira & Dr. Duane Patterson, chief of flight medicine at Houston Space Center, had flown in just before the destroyer arrived to confer with the astronauts. Dr. Patterson ordered an immediate physical exam, and the space capsule was covered with a tarp. All was well with Armstrong and Scott. A short circuit in one of the eight thruster rockets seems to have caused the near-disaster. Before going ashore, the astronauts shook hands with crew members and hugged the pararescue men who had jumped into the ocean to retrieve them. The pilot of the C-54 rescue plane later said: “It looked awful lonesome down there. They were just little dots on the great big ocean.”

Huyett was almost immediately sent on a “whirlwind” United States tour. He was given special recognition at the Air Force Association Convention in Dallas, honored at the Houston Space Center, and appeared on the Ed Sullivan and Today television shows. The York Area Chamber of Commerce honored him with a reception at the Yorktowne Hotel on April 4. The postcard invitations declare “A HERO IS IN OUR MIDST!”

After the home town visit, Huyett went back to the Air Force. He died in 2011 in Englewood, Ohio at age 74. His obituary in the York Daily Record reports that he served 29 years with the Air Force Pararescue and 23 years with Special Services.

In 1969 Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) was the first man to walk on the moon as commander of Apollo 11. Two years later David Scott commanded Apollo 15 and also trod the surface of the moon. Larry Huyett and his crack pararescue team helped make those events and the space stations, Mars rovers and space feats still to come possible by saving the astronauts and, quite possibly, the U.S. space program

Larry Huyett at the reception with Chamber of Commerce members Charles Wolf and George Aulbach

This link will take you to a series of 23 photos of the mission from training to arrival at Okinawa after the rescue.


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Dempwolf architects designed first Weaver Piano and Organ Company building

1903 Roe atlas showing Weaver site.

When I was very young, I used to amuse myself with my grandparents’ parlor organ, very probably made by the Weaver Organ and Piano Company. As a teenager I took piano lessons, as my daughter did later, on a York upright piano, another Weaver product.

I am working on an upcoming York Sunday News column summarizing the history of the Weaver Company. The manufacturing firm was established in 1870 and incorporated in 1882, moving into its new building in 1882 and continuing at that site until 1949, when it went out of business. This post concentrates on the first of the conglomeration of buildings that made up the Weaver manufacturing complex at East Philadelphia and North Broad streets from 1882 until the recent tragic fire.

The full page advertisement above, from the 1904 book: York, Pennsylvania,  published in Philadelphia by the Shelden Company, shows how the facility greatly expanded from the first Weaver factory.

Details of the original 1882 building designed by the noted Dempwolf architectural firm of York, can be better seen on the enlarged engraving above, taken from the 1904 ad.

Dempwolf drawing, 1882 showing elevation and section

The two architectural drawings included in this post of the 1882 Weaver building are from the Dempwolf collection at the York County History Center.

An upcoming post will share enlargements from the ad of the 1892, 1898 and 1904 additions to the building, as well as additional illustrations.

The Dempwolf drawing below, from the York County History Center Library/Archives shows the floor plan as well as front, back and side elevations:

Posted in 1870s, 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, 1940s, advertising, architecture, archives, buildings, industry, manufacturing, music, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Dempwolf architects designed first Weaver Piano and Organ Company building

Freysville School alumni keep tradition alive.

Freysville School in its last days as a school, Spring 1952

There are still a fair number of people around who attended the rural one-room (sometimes two-room) schools that dotted York County until the mid-twentieth century. Ask your parents or grandparents and you might get some interesting tales. (Including how they had to walk five miles through the snow, uphill both ways, to get to school.) Seriously though, walking was the usual transportation and the schools were several miles apart, so students did get some serious exercise. Click the links at the end of this post for some of my previous posts on these country schools.

Former students of some of them, such as the two-room school at Freysville, Windsor Township, have been holding annual reunions to keep up with their childhood friends. This year’s Freysville School reunion will be held at the Equine Meadows Condominium Community Building, 3360 Cape Horn Rd., Red Lion on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Anyone who attended Freysville School is welcome; they and their guests are asked to bring a dish to share. Drinks and setups are provided and registration is from noon to 1 p.m.

This is anticipated to be the last annual Freysville School reunion, but alumni will continue getting together at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of even months, starting June 20, 201,8 at Meadow Hill Family Restaurant at Longstown. Questions can be directed to alumni Shirley Paules Zerbe at

An account attributed to Lizzie Paules, one of the hundreds of children that attended Freysville School over the years, says that the frame two-room school replaced an overcrowded brick one-room school that could have dated to the 1850s.

Windsor Manor School consolidated the smaller Windsor Township schools when it opened in 1951, but the new building wa not to be large enough to accommodate all eight grades of students from throughout Windsor Township.  It was decided to bus seventh and eighth graders to the two-room Freysville School for nearly two years until a Windsor Manor addition was completed.  (I was one of those students.)

The Red Lion Area school district deeded the building, said to be built in the latter half of the 19th century, to Windsor Township in 1966.  They used it for community activities such as scout meetings and storage.  The October 14, 1954 Gazette and Daily announced that the Windsor Township PTA was sponsoring an evening eight-week Ford Foundation adult education class to be held at “the old Freysville school.”  The subject was “Great Men and Great Issues.”

After nearly 30 years, the township sold the building, which is now a private residence.  At the time of the sale a newspaper article recounted the memories of a former student, Phyllis Stauffer.  She remembered the lack of running water, which meant buckets of water were carried for drinking and outhouses had to be visited.  Each of the two rooms had a potbellied stove, fueled by coal, which the students helped carry from the cellar.  The school yard was “a sea of mud” when the spring thaws and showers arrived.  Stauffer remembered the last day of the school year being the best day, since the students got to roast hot dogs and marshmallows.

Former Freysville students are invited to attend the May 20 lunchtime reunion as well as the subsequent bi-monthly breakfasts starting in June.

Interior of Freysville schoolroom after it was home to scouts. School desks removed, but blackboard still intact.

Click the links for more on York County’s rural schools:

1855 book spelled out school plans and much more.

Listing of York County rural schools from 1943.

Knaub 1940s album of one-room schools in northern half of York County.

Fissel’s one-room school near Glen Rock.

Will’s School, Delroy, Lower Windsor Township.

Will’s School students of nearly a century ago.

Eighth grade exams.

Chanceford Township consolidation, 1958.

Chanceford School dedication book.

Chanceford closes after only 50 years of use.


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