Santa’s seat at York’s old Bon-Ton: ‘Think of the hundreds … that sat on Santa’s lap on the chair’

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Autumn House residents can now enjoy the velvet-and-gold-trimmed chair that was part of Christmas at The Bon-Ton in York, Pa., for decades. Background posts: Ho, ho, ho – uh, Santa, hold on, The Grumbachers: ‘Builders and Heroes,’ Part III and What is the home of famed architect J.A. Dempwolf, Bon-Ton store designer, like?

A tip concerning the whereabouts of Santa memorabilia that graced the Bon-Ton in York for years from JoAnne Everhart, always an interested observer of the York County scene.
Her tip turned into an engaging story in the York Daily Record/Sunday News.
Here’s her tip:

Readers may be interested to know that the large Santa Claus which graced the window of the former S. Beaver St. and W. Market St. Bon Ton Department Store is still a part of the Christmas scene in York City… .

… On the weekend of December 12th I was working as one of the on-call RN’s for Heartland Hospice. One of the visits I made that day was to Barley Townhouse West located on W. Market St. in the city. As I entered the building, I was greeted by the same large Santa that had greeted me from the Bon Ton window when I was a child. A note is attached to Santa which gives a brief history of his career at the Bon Ton. Seeing this Santa was a real treat for me.
It was like running into an old friend.

And here are excerpts from the resulting story (1/1/09):

To a child visiting Santa Claus at The Bon-Ton in downtown York in the 1960s, the chair he sat in looked like a throne.
Children would wait in line in their best clothes to see him.
That’s how 50-year-old Connie Wit, who is the office manager for Autumn House West on West Market Street, remembers Christmases from her childhood.
She recently saw the same velvet-colored, gold-trimmed chair at the home. As a child living in York, Wit went with her grandmother and older sister to The Bon-Ton to see Santa and all holiday decorations downtown.
Steve Barley, owner of Autumn House West and East, said he purchased the chair at a York Art Association event years ago. He was told that it was the same one used at The Bon-Ton in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
Other chairs painted by artists were up for sale at the event, but he knew the Santa chair was unique.
Wanting to share the historical find with the community, Barley purchased it. He doesn’t recall how much he paid.
“Think of the hundreds and hundreds of children that sat on Santa’s lap on the chair,” he said.

For scores of posts on York County nostalgia and memories, click here.
Photo courtesy of the York Daily Record/Sunday News

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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One Response to Santa’s seat at York’s old Bon-Ton: ‘Think of the hundreds … that sat on Santa’s lap on the chair’

  1. That is a very small Santa, the ladies are bigger than him. Shame that Christmas is over.
    Happy new year everyone!

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