My last blog post, Ode to Oriels, included a photo of a decorative corbel featuring the head of a woman. While this is one of the most distinctive examples of architectural ornamentation in York City, it certainly isn’t the only one inspired by a living, or mythological, being.
When I give walking tours of the downtown, I like to say that you just never know when you’re being watched. So here are several more examples, in no particular order.
Do you know where they are located? The answers appear at the bottom.
And now for the answers…
1. This bear is located on the southwest quadrant of Continental Square on the Rupp Building. A shield features the name D.A. Rupp, for the businessman who constructed the building, and the date 1892, which signifies when it was constructed.
2. The Goodwill Fire Company on East Market Street featured a wolf as its mascot. Other station emblems included an owl (Rex & Laurel) and deer (Rescue).
3. The Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare (or Shakespear, as spelled here), is located on the former Central Elementary School building on West King Street, today home to the York City Police.
4. Another fire company mascot – in this case the lion was the mascot of Royal Fire Company on West Market Street. Today the building is home to the Fire Museum of York County.
5. This patriotic relief is of an eagle with its wings spread open. You’ll find it on the northeast quadrant of Continental Square on the building that was constructed for the First National Bank.
6. This gargoyle is located on Calvary United Methodist Church on West Market Street. A gargoyle, by definition, is a carved stone figure that conveys water from the roof and away from a building – essentially a decorative spout.
7. This scary-looking creature is located on the home of architect J.A. Dempwolf at 701 South George Street. This is actually a prominent datestone on the front façade and signifying a date of construction of 1886.
8. This decorative relief appears on the front gable of J.A. Dempwolf’s home. It has been identified as Old Man Winter.
9. Another carved corbel – a head under the oriel at 149 East Market Street.
10. This intense lion head is located on the spouting at the William Goodridge House at 123 East Philadelphia Street – a building which also happened to be the home of prominent architect Reinhardt Dempwolf.
11. The former Milton Martin house on East Market Street, today home to Menges, McLaughlin, Kalasnik, features two of these mythical chimeras, which appear to have a the head of a female lion, wings, and the body of neither. It is crouched behind a cross-shaped shield.
12. The octagonal tower of the former post office building at the intersection of West Philadelphia and North Beaver Streets features several of these gargoyles.
13. You’ll also find several grotesques on the old post office building.
14. You have probably passed by this lion’s head countless times, but have you noticed it? The lion is part of the water fountain in front of the former York County Court House on East Market Street, which is today a county government office building. There are lion heads inside the building, too.
15. This high relief ornamentation serves as the terminus of a decorative bracket on the York Gas Company building on West Market Street. Note all the ornamentation around the woman’s head – a scroll bracket, wreath, egg-and-dart molding, and acanthus leaf.
16. This head is located on a building on the 100-block of South George Street, across from the Sovereign Bank building (or as long-time Yorkers know it, York Federal). It appears to be the likeness of a tragedy theater mask.
17. So it would make sense that the other head on this building would be the comedy theater mask, right? That is not the case. The second head is of a male with a distinctive handlebar moustache.
18. This fantastic head is located on the tower of Trinity United Methodist Church on East King Street. One projects from each of the four corners.
How many did you get right? Are there others that I missed? Add a comment, or send in a photo and I’ll post it.
And remember, the buildings of York are watching you!
About this blogAs a local historian, writer and photo- grapher, I look at York County’s history in visual terms. For more than 15 years I’ve been enamored with local buildings and the stories behind their facades – from prominent architecture to non-assuming buildings, their walls and roofs are filled with stories just waiting to be told. Whether giving a downtown York walking tour, exploring the history of a local building for my job at the Nutec Group, or taking photos for an upcoming coffee table book, I’m always looking for those unique “windows” into York County’s past and present. — Scott Butcher
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