Then & Now in Lower Windsor: From 1740s Dritt House to 2013’s Zimmerman Center

082013-pmk-12 zimmerman.jpgLong Level’s Dritt House in history … .


The Dritt House, now the John and Kathryn Zimmerman Center for Heritage. Also of interest: Long Level’s Dritt burial place.

Structures on or around the grounds of Lower Windsor Township’s Zimmerman Center have been known by many names: Cresap’s Fort, Pleasant Gardens, the Dritt House.

For about a decade, the beautifully remodeled stone structure along the Susquehanna has taken on the name of the philanthropists who have made it so: John and Kathryn Zimmerman. And a recent groundbreaking launched a two-fold purpose for the old property as it goes forward: public recreation and heritage.

Which leads us to a bit of background about John Zimmerman and his wife, the late Kathryn Zimmerman.

John Zimmerman is seen at the recent groundbreaking of an expansion project at his namesake center. Check out this photo gallery of the groundbreaking event.

For years, John Zimmerman headed The Wolf Organization with his brother in law – Kathryn’s brother – Bill Wolf. The next generation of the family acquired the building supplies company from the brothers-in-law several decades ago. Tom Wolf, the best-known Wolf family member of that generation, still heads the company and has added another challenge to his vast resume. He is running for governor of Pennsylvania.

For decades up to the present, The Wolf Organization has been on a short list of philanthropists in York County. In fact, the William T. Wolf Center for Philanthropy operates on West Market Street in York.

John Zimmerman has a long history of enjoying, promoting and underwriting York County history projects. Perhaps it came with the neighborhood. He grew up across from historic Penn Park in York, and his family operated the Diehl Candy Company for years.

His list of unsung contributions to the York County history scene is endless – from investments in the renovation of the Schmidt House on South George Street to Central Market. Actually, this quiet philanthropist probably doesn’t keep such a list.

But the Zimmerman Center is different, a very public contribution to a heritage/recreational project that will draw people to York County from across the region.

So the John and Kathryn Zimmerman Center will duly remember the philanthropists whose contributions to the local history scene are so many and varied.

John Zimmerman and Mark Platts of the Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area, headquartered in the Zimmerman Center, explain the expansion project.

Also of interest:

Dritt Mansion, 4 other York County historic places tagged as authentic heritage sites.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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5 Responses to Then & Now in Lower Windsor: From 1740s Dritt House to 2013’s Zimmerman Center

  1. Jim … What an appropriate post, last night when I loaded my post about the 1865 proposed railway through Long Level, I thought, I bet the Dritt House would have been selected as the Long Level Railroad Station if the railway would have been built.

  2. phil klinedinst says:

    In the older picture are my great-grandfather and great-grandmother (Samuel R. and Christiana Knaub Leibhart) and many of their multitude of children (including my grandmother Emma Rebecca Keller) and grandchildren.
    Samuel and Christiana were the parents of Oscar and Byrd. Byrd, of course, once owned the Dritt Mansion and Oscar lived nearby — as did their parents and several other of their siblings.
    I’ve never been able to pin down who is who in the photo — other than my great grandparents.

  3. jane heller says:

    Nice that it was “saved”- too bad it was changed so much from it’s original look- when you compare the two houses you can see that what was likely the orignal construction, looks nothing like the rendition done most recently- the goal of preservation, while stressing continued used, or re-purpose, is to maintain the structure in as true to the original “look” as possible- while this later version is certainly attractive, one can see that the exterior and of course the interior were modified to suit a cetain agenda. For me, i would have preferred it to be kept as it was when built. and that might have saved the multi million dollar investment that was made- preservation does not necesarily need to cost a “fortune”- the property should be made usable, and archtectural repairs made, not changes. Keep it authentic, and make it usable but “overdone” is not necessary.

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