Colonel Jonathan Mifflin, Revolutionary War Patriot and master of Hybla at Wrightsville

Nineteenth century view of Hybla

Nineteenth century view of Hybla

Fellow blogger Scott Mingus has done extensive research on the Mifflin family of Hellam Township. He has written, both in his Cannonball blog and in his recently published book, The Ground Swallowed Them Up: Slavery and the Underground Railroad in York County, Pa., about the significant role Jonathan Mifflin, his wife Susannah Wright Mifflin and their son, Samuel W. Mifflin played in the Underground Railroad.

Mingus has also recently visited and blogged about Hybla, the Mifflin’s imposing stone home, over two centuries old and the site of their Underground Railroad activity, as the house might be presently threatened by development. He will be speaking about the Miffins, for the “hero” part of his presentation at “An Evening to Unravel York County History 2.0.” Join Scott Mingus, Jim McClure, Stephen H. Smith and me as the York Daily Record’s award-winning team of history writers recalls some of our unsung heroes, and some local villians, at a free public program at 7 p.m. on Wednesday December 7 at Wyndridge Farm, 885 Pleasant Ave., Dallastown. (Last year’s event was so popular that parking became a problem, but I understand there is now additional parking space.)

Jonathan Mifflin was an important figure in the Revolutionary War, holding the rank of Colonel and serving as Assistant Quartermaster General of the Army. He participated in several important battles and is said to have been close to General Washington and to General Lafayette. That is the period of his life I recapped in my recent York Sunday News column, transcribed below.

(Hybla can be seen from Route 30, just past the Wrightsville exit. It sits to the right on a rise just past the industrial buildings.  See Google street view below.)  Continue reading

Posted in 1770s, 1780s, 1790s, 1800s, 1830s, 1840s, 1850s, 2010s, buildings, Columbia, PA, Hellam Twp., historic preservation, Revolutionary War, Universal York, Wrightsville | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Colonel Jonathan Mifflin, Revolutionary War Patriot and master of Hybla at Wrightsville

Still another York square building was threatened in the 1950s

The Schmidt/Rupp building is to the right of the similar Colonial Hotel

The Schmidt/Rupp building is to the right of the similar Colonial Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downtown York could look much different, and not in a good way, if 1950s and 1960s demolition plans had been carried through.

In a previous post I wrote about the proposal to do away with the southeast quadrant buildings, including the now nicely restored Newswanger and Hartman buildings.

I also recently shared the very serious proposal to replace the iconic domed courthouse building (now the York County Administrative Center) with a monolithic structure.

York County History Center Director of Library and Archives, Lila Fourhman-Shaull, just found the Gazette and Daily clipping transcribed below. This one, dated April 23, 1953 says that the top three floors of the Schmidt building(also known as the Rupp building) on the Market Street side of the southwest quadrant of the square might be lopped off. The roof could then have been rented for billboards.

Notice H. S. Schmidt & Company on the building behind the band, probably 1920s

Notice H. S. Schmidt & Company on the building behind the band, probably 1920s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the story:

Schmidt Building Change Discussed

Plans for a change in the Schmidt building in Continental square are being discussed, it was learned here yesterday.

Mrs. Hilda Schmidt, owner of the building, reached in Columbus, O. last night by The Gazette and Daily, said there are no definite plans for eventual disposition of the building. It was learned however, that all leases in the five-story building expire in December, 1954.

A local representative for Mrs. Schmidt hinted that the upper floors of the structure are of little economic value because tenants balk at renting office space above the second floor. He also cited costs of maintaining elevator service.

A report that the top three floors may be dismantled and that the roof may be rented out for billboard space was neither confirmed nor denied. Primary “upstairs” tenant is the York Chamber of Commerce, which occupies the third floor.”

Mrs. Schmidt was the widow of Herbert S. Schmidt; besides owning the building, he had operated a men’s clothing and hat store on the first floor. Eugene Jacobs Menswear later occupied that space.

The Schmidt building when occupied by Eugene Jacobs Mens Wear, probably 1950s

The Schmidt building when occupied by Eugene Jacobs Mens Wear, probably 1950s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happily for us, the Dempwolf designed building still stands today with all its floors, looking much as it did when it was built in 1892.

The building today, now usually known as the Rupp building for its original owner.

The building today, now usually known as the Rupp building for its original owner.

 

Posted in 1890s, 1920s, 1930s, 1950s, 2010s, architecture, buildings, historic preservation, merchants, retail stores, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Still another York square building was threatened in the 1950s

Sign has been hanging around Haines Road for 70 years

schmidtsign

Does anyone know of any other examples of these weathervane or gate signs that are still around? As you can see, the arched ironwork for the one on the cover of this brochure, erected at the entrance to Mahlon Haines estate in East York, is still there, minus the “Haines Acres” part with the covered wagon and a hanging lantern.

hainesgates2016-1

The brochure, called to my attention by Lila Fourhman-Shaull, Director of Library and Archives at the York County History Center, was filed under the name of Samuel S. Schmidt. I found him in the 1948 Polk’s York City Directory listed as a salesman, with his residence at 932 South George Street.   Since that was, and still is, a nice private residence, the weathervanes and other objects were likely manufactured elsewhere, and Schmidt was the local distributor. Both stock and customized items were available.

See below for examples of pictured weathervanes. Here is a transcription of the booklet’s text: Continue reading

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York Post Office statues remind us to be thankful

Thanksgiving statue from the March 1960 Gazette and Daily

Thanksgiving statue from the March 1960 Gazette and Daily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You might have noticed, in person or on the news, that the Thanksgiving historical marker, across from the York County Administrative Center on East Market Street has been recently refurbished. It was first erected by the National Thanksgiving Foundation and other historical organizations to commemorate the Thanksgiving proclaimed while Congress was meeting here in York. It was spurred by the victory over the British at Saratoga, giving hope at a bleak time in our history.

"Singing Thanksgiving" from March 1960 Gazette and Daily

“Singing Thanksgiving” from March 1960 Gazette and Daily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite York County Thanksgiving objects have always been the black walnut statues, now at the East York post office.  They were originally at the imposing York post office at the corner of George and Princess streets, but were moved to East York when the downtown building was closed. My January 2009 column below on the regional art competition that spurred the statues is below.  It was written in early 2009, as the massive downtown York post office was preparing to close, but before it was announced what would become of the statues. Continue reading

Posted in 1940s, 1960s, 2000s, 2010s, artists, competitions, post office, sculptors, Thanksgiving, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on York Post Office statues remind us to be thankful

The York County courthouse demolition that never happened (thankfully)

courthouse1953proposal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third York County courthouse, now the York County Administrative Center, with its beautiful domes reminiscent of Florence’s Duomo, came close to joining other York County landmarks razed in the 1950s and 1960s.

A clipping from the July 21, 1953 York Dispatch sounds as if it is nearly a done deal. I will cover the story in more detail in a future York Sunday News column and blog posts.

The clipping reads: Continue reading

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Articles of Confederation, adopted in York, Pa., met with dismay by King

Articles of Confederation historical marker on York's square

Articles of Confederation historical marker on York’s square

One of the things of which we York countians are proud is that the Articles of Confederation, our nation’s first constitution, was approved right here 239 years ago today, on November 15, 1777. The Articles served the nation well through the Revolutionary War and beyond, until replaced by the stronger United States Constitution in 1789.

As we know, Continental Congress met in our first courthouse, situated in the center of York’s square, from September 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778. The British were occupying the former capital, Philadelphia, so the patriots needed to find some place a distance away to safely meet.

To put it mildly, the Articles of Confederation were not viewed so well across the sea. Lila Fourhman-Shaull, Director of York County History Center Library/Archives, shared an excerpt she found there in an original copy of The Universal Magazine for 1781, a British publication. The writer is a bit confused, citing October 4, 1776, when the articles were still being very much debated, instead of November 15, 1777, when the document was adopted. Copies of earlier drafts had undoubtedly been sent to England. In any case, the sentiment of the crown is quite clear: Continue reading

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York’s Colonial Hotel building still stately after nearly 125 years

1892 Dempwolf perspective of the Colonial Hotel

1892 Dempwolf perspective of the Colonial Hotel

For over a month I have been putting together a slide show on York’s square in commemoration of the 275th anniversary of the laying out of York in 1741. The information on the square at the York County History Center Library/Archives, an abundance of maps, drawings, photographs and clippings, is almost overwhelming.

The great pleasure in such a project is the opportunity to look closely at individual buildings. Some are long gone, such as the 1756 courthouse in which Continental Congress met and the 1793 statehouse (county office building) that stood in the center of the square. Some of the sites ringing the square have hosted one building after another. Others have endured, such as the 1807 Hersch tavern building, which has housed numerous enterprises, such as Weiser’s store, Newswanger’s shoe store, bank offices and now, Downtown Inc.

Another survivor, the Colonial Hotel, designed by the noted Dempwolf architectural firm in 1892, still stands in the southwest quadrant of the square. Thanks to a 1940 fire, it is now minus the original seventh story, with its turrets, peaks and mansard roof, but the bulk of the building endures with businesses on the first floor and condos above.

The Colonial Hotel, probably 1920s

The Colonial Hotel, probably 1920s

An April 1908 clipping describes a substantial addition to the hotel. It says:
Continue reading

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The kiosk in York’s square endures

Trolleys flow around the kiosk in the 1927 photo

Trolleys flow around the kiosk in the 1927 photo

Nearly a year ago I wrote a York Sunday News column and several blog posts about the travels of the 19th century cigar store figure, Punch, up and down and all around the northwest quadrant of York’s Continental Square. Punch is now on display at his current home, the York County History Center museum at 250 East Market Street.

The kiosk is being moved for some reason, about 1940.  Note the fancy fabric awning.

The kiosk is being moved for some reason, about 1940. Note the fancy fabric awning.

While looking at square photos for a slide show on 275 years of York’s square that I am doing for the November 12th Second Saturday program at YCHC, I was reminded that the northeast quadrant of the square was, and is, the home of another piece of Yorkabilia. Though not as old as Punch, who might date back to the 1870s, the kiosk with its copper roof appears on photos dating back at least to 1927, nearly 90 years ago.

This 1946 photo shows the kiosk with a peaked roof and large pole, probably an antenna for the bus dispatcher.

This 1946 photo shows the kiosk with a peaked roof and large pole, probably an antenna for the bus dispatcher.

I need to do more research to pinpoint exactly when and why the kiosk was first erected. It was reportedly used over the years as a booth for bus dispatchers and shelter for police. Here are some photographs showing various incarnations of the little building, as well as a clipping showing it as the victim of a wayward automobile.

The roof was still peaked in this 1951 photo, but the paint job is different.

The roof was still peaked in this 1951 photo, but the paint job is different.

This 1950s postcard shows an unusual canopy.

This 1950s postcard shows an unusual canopy.

As you can see in the photos, it sported different roofs, awnings and paint schemes over the years. The present restored structure looks very similar to the one in the 1927 photo.

kiosk-1943-wreck

Gazette and Daily clipping stamped March 5, 1948:

CRACKED, BUT STILL STANDING—“Teapot Dome” York Bus company dispatcher’s booth in Continental Square, was knocked from its moorings by an auto at 1 o’clock yesterday morning, but refused to go down. Patrolman Walter D. Myers, in the booth at the time was uninjured. Picture was taken about 2 a.m. Telephone service was disrupted and a section to the right of the door was splintered.

The restored kiosk in 2016

The restored kiosk in 2016

Everyone is invited to the York County History Center, 250 East Market Street on November 12 at 10:30 a.m. As part of the regular Second Saturday program series, I will be presenting Changing Crossroads: York’s Square over the Centuries, using historic maps, drawings and photos to look at 275 years of history in the heart of the county.

Posted in 1870s, 1920s, 1940s, 1950s, 2010s, accidents, buildings, street railways, streets, transportation, Universal York, York City, York County | Tagged , , | Comments Off on The kiosk in York’s square endures

Some York buildings that didn’t bite the dust

Dotted line area slated for demolition in 1961

Dotted line area slated for demolition in 1961

We lament, and rightly so, the loss of impressive York buildings, such as City Market and York Collegiate Institute. Still, it could have been worse. Here is an example of one urban renewal project that thankfully didn’t happen.

While looking through the York Square file at the York County History Center Library/Archives, working on my upcoming slide show on the square, I gave a little gasp when I came across this clipping from the January 31, 1961 York Gazette and Daily.

The lengthy caption for the aerial photo reads:

“SLATED FOR RENEWAL—The broken line describes the area in the southeast quadrant of Continental Square scheduled for clearance by York Redevelopment Authority. The authority this week is getting up letters and advertisements inviting interested developers to present ideas on what they would do with the cleared land. The authority has been thinking in terms of an office building with ample parking space and first floor retail outlets. Authority and city officials are on record that the present structures will not come down until a satisfactory developer is ready to follow up immediately with reconstruction. Even if a developer were found within a few weeks, the project could not get underway, for about a year at the earliest, according to authority officials.”

I hope you can see the heavy dotted line on the newspaper photo. It encompassed all the property on the east side of South George Street from Market Street to Mason Avenue. That would include the impressive 1850 Hartman building, nicely restored a few years ago. The rest of the buildings on that half block are quite old and lovely–in case you haven’t looked up for a while, see the Goggle street shot below.

The dotted line continues up East Market Street from George to the drive between the present Wells Fargo bank (now with a “modernized” façade) and the former courthouse. The bank building itself would have been spared, but the restored Golden Swan tavern building, built in 1807, would have been demolished.

By the early sixties stores were moving from downtown to shopping centers, such as the York County Shopping Center, which opened in 1956. The crowds of shoppers went with them, and downtown became depressed. In some ways lack of interest in projects such as this one might have worked for the eventual good of York. Now that a real renewal seems to be underway, there are some great buildings left to shine again.

Everyone is invited to the York County History Center, 250 East Market Street on November 12 at 10:30 a.m. As part of the regular Second Saturday program series, I will be presenting Changing Crossroads: York’s Square over the Centuries, using historic maps, drawings and photos to look at 275 years of history in the heart of the county.

East side of first half block of South George.  Google street view

East side of first half block of South George. Google street view

Posted in 1800s, 1850s, 1960s, architecture, banks, buildings, courthouse, historic preservation, retail stores, shopping, Universal York, York City, York County | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Some York buildings that didn’t bite the dust

Rural students and the Eight Grade Examination

Eight grade review books from the 1940s for  Physiology [Health]; American History; Geography, Eastern Hemisphere; Geography, Western Hemisphere; Civics; Grammar and Science

Eight grade review books from the 1940s for Physiology [Health]; American History; Geography, Eastern Hemisphere; Geography, Western Hemisphere; Civics; Grammar and Science

Some York County school districts didn’t consolidate until the late 1950s. Chanceford Township was one of the last to close their one-room schools, as the new Chanceford Township elementary school didn’t open until September 1958.

Children attended one-room schools from first through eighth grades. Near the end of your eighth grade year, you would need to take the Eight Grade Examination to determine if you were ready for high school, which usually started with ninth grade. If your parents or grandparents are over 70 and grew up in a rural area, there is a good chance they attended one-room schools and took the Eight Grade Examination.

There are sample exam questions, review workbooks and some exam results in the York County History Center Library/Archives. See below for my recent York Sunday News column on Eight Grade Examination, as experience shared by generations of York countians: Continue reading

Posted in 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, Chanceford Twp., education, schools, Shrewsbury Township, students, teachers, Universal York, York County | Tagged , | Comments Off on Rural students and the Eight Grade Examination