Part II: Brewery’s tower helped shape York’s skyline

062011-sub-York-Brewing-Co.jpg
No, that’s not Helb’s Keystone Brewery in the above image, featured in the recent blog post Brewery’s tower helped shape York’s skyline. It’s York Brewery, which also no longer is part of the York, Pa., skyline. Both breweries were leading businesses in the early part of the 20th century, although both were out of business by 1940, according to Walter Ehrenfeld’s “York Factory Whistles.” By the way, York Brewery had a whistle; Keystone did not, Ehrenfeld noted. Also of interest: The ornate, but now-demolished York City Market House in living color and Railroad Borough: ‘Probably no other town in America has a horse heaven’ and Brewery profits produced landmark West York mansion.

A astute observer of the York County scene and I met at a table lined with books at WellSpan’s Auxiliary’s Book Nook on Sunday.
He was talking about all the events available in York County on any given summer weekend, including the massive book sale that was taking place around us.
He had just participated in the Made in America Factory Tours.
He had toured Painted Spring Alpacas Farm in Spring Grove. Last year, it was Family Heir-Loom Weavers in Adamsville.
Then he commented that the tour now features many, many breweries and wineries… .


I counted the offerings in those categories. Nine of them.
Three points on that.
What better reflects the change in York County than the evolution from red-brick manufacturing factories to the service sector’s tiny microbreweries?
We’ve gone from international companies to mom-and-pop brewers.
Second, microbreweries represent a throwback to the day when such things were common on farms around York County, as were distilleries – stills.
And lastly, many of the breweries of old were far from micro. They took up large chunks of city blocks – at least that was the case with Helb’s Keystone and York breweries in the city.
So brewing is a new/old trend in York County.
The York County Heritage Trust’s Microbrew Fest attracted about 1,000 people and 25 brewers to the Agricultural and Industrial Museum.
So the Factory Tour’s inclusion of the microbreweries is part of a back to the future wave:
Landmark razed
A recent post about the demolition of Helb’s Keystone Brewery drew the following informative exchange on my Facebook page:

Richard Bono: There clearly would be more opportunities for adaptive reuse…but it begs the question. The point is that these buildings represented vital businesses, and jobs, which formed the backbone of an active and vibrant local culture which shaped the region and nation. It’s the lack of business and workplaces downtown, that the current art and apartment focus will not be able to replace.
June Burk Lloyd: I just posted my Sunday News column on the Old York Post Office on my blog and Facebook. Other Federal Buildings by the same architect, Willoughby J. Edbrooke, have been adapted into Arts Centers, apartment complexes and city halls. Once they are torn down, they are gone and the town is poorer for that loss.
Diane Strobeck: I I agree June. I love the historical buildings and am sad when they destroy them and all teir history. Just spent time in Gettysburg with our grandsons and how great to see all the preservation of historical buildings and sites. The boys 8 and 11 live in Florida and they were just amazed I am sure civil war took on new meaning for them.

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Helb’s Keystone Brewery also has been razed.

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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