Check out these facts, photographs about York Water Company’s ornate building

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York Water Co. invites folks to walk into their East Market Street building and admire the ceiling. A York, Pa., Sunday News story about the water company and its buildings reported that the paintings pay homage to water as the great gift of the Creator to mankind. See additional photos by York Daily Record/Sunday News photographer Kate Penn below. Also of interest: York’s Reservoir Hill drips with things to see and Where is the world is Webb’s Hill? and Who you gonna call to stop tooth decay? Not York Water Co.

Some facts, figures and photographs from a York Sunday News story (1/16/11) about the York Water Company: …


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The York Water Co. was formed 1816. This building became its headquarters in 1929. A spring along Rathton Road, now on the Penn State York campus, was the first water source.
Main office constructed: The 130 E. Market St. office went up in 1929.
Designer: Architect William B. Billmeyer.
Artist of painting on the ceiling: Gustav Ketterer.
Facts about art: The painting is 25 feet above the floor and covers about 3,800 square feet.
Rehab work: Coal soot, pollution and traffic dirt by the late 1960s prompted the water company to cover it with a drop ceiling and fluorescent lighting. In 1995, the company restored it: “With washing, gold leaf and repairing the holes and cracks, it just came back to life,” said Jeffrey Hines, water company president, said.
Conservator: James Vallano.
Notable features: Neptune, Controller of the Waters; Psyche offering the cup of the water of life to Venus, the Roman goddess; and The Four Rivers, a biblical interpretation of the waters of life flowing from the Throne of God.
Arc work: The White Rose symbol of York and the Colonial Courthouse of York County appear in arcs above windows.
Unchanged: Women’s first floor powder room features original stained-glass art. “It’s the room that 1929 forgot. It’s never changed,” Hines said.
Fun fact: Firemen would drill a hole in the wood to get to the water and plug it up when they were done. That was the source of the term fire plug.
Key dates:
– 1816: Incorporated on Feb. 23, 1816, serving about 35 homes via log pipes.
– 1851: First water main constructed under the Codorus Creek.
– 1899: Construction of first filtration plant on Grantley Hill.
– 1903: Reservoir Park opened to the public.
– 1913: Construction of Lake Williams.
– 1929: A new main office opens.
– 1967: Completion of Lake Redman. Both lakes hold more than 2 billion gallons.
– 1970: The magnificent ceiling, aging and in need of restoration, is hidden from sight by suspension tiles and fluorescent lighting.
– 1996: The 180th anniversary of the company, and the restoration and refurbishing of the ceiling. The cleaning process took nearly 1,400 man hours.
– 2006: The 190th anniversary of the company, which now serves more than 30 municipalities with a daily consumption of about 18 million gallons.
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These roses, part of the 1929 building’s artwork, are believed to be the first use of the white rose to be incorporated into the architecture of a building in York.

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Jeffrey Hines became the president and CEO of York Water Co. in 2008. Here, he sits in the building’s hall of presidents.

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About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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