When it comes to preservation of York County buildings, how about unleashing our creativity?

This rendering shows the replacement for the Springettsbury Fire Hall, gathering place for all kind of events for 50 years. This new building is designed as the home of the York, Pa., Area United Fire and Rescue and the Springettsbury Volunteer Fire Company The then-empty lot on Commons Drive in Springettsbury Township is the new home for the $3.8 million fire station. Also of interest: Springettsbury Fire Hall not historic, but memorable.

Springettsbury Township seems to attract most recent preservationist/developer clashes.

The township is relatively new by York County standards – forming from Spring Garden in 1891 –  but its land is among the earliest settled. Major transportation routes cropped up on its soil.
The Springetts firehall is slated to come down to make way for development.

The Ettline property along the old Lincoln Highway is the most recent to be in dispute. British POW Camp Security land is the most noteworthy.

Not all the properties that have been in dispute are necessarily historically significant. One landmark – the old Springettsbury Township fire hall – is not even in dispute.

But it should be. Plans call for the 1950s building to be vacated, demolished and then its land developed. Another shopping center is bound to crop up.

Can’t we be more creative than that?

Springettsbury’s leaders did the right thing recently in holding a preservation meeting to discuss such things.

Grass-roots preservationists, who have protested demolition of the Meadowbrook barn, Ettline property and other projects, should be encouraged with that event.

The collective volume of their individual voices is loud enough that they’re being heard.

And township officials must continue to listen.

Our old buildings – historically significant or not – help preserve York County’s community. Let’s not let our fabric fray into a land of sprawl and nondescript shopping centers.

Not all old buildings can be saved.

But how about a little outside-the-box thinking? For example, turn the old fire hall into commercial booths or units. Maybe its community hall can remain such.

York County marketers are touting our creativity. How about unleashing it?


The old Springettsbury Fire Hall has been used for many things. Here, it’s the late Harry McLaughlin’s estate sale. Dave Gulden, who has written much about York County history, looks at antique collectibles from the estate.

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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3 Responses to When it comes to preservation of York County buildings, how about unleashing our creativity?

  1. jane heller says:

    Let me undestand this plan- now the old fire hall will be demolished, and a new structure built there and another structure will be build to house the fire company off Concord Rd.- is that one demo and two new buildings> A nice idea would be to re-purpose the old fire hall into something else, maybe add on and not demo, but that seems unlikely- the twp, for now is hell bent on a tear-it-down, rebuild new elsewhere and adding MORE car parts businesses, etc in a small shopping center east of Home Depot seems to be the plan- and seriously, why even bother with an odd looking “pretend” old building. it’s not- just own up to it here- forget the odd design and save us money with adaptive-reuse of the existng fire company.
    hard to see why the twp taxpayers are getting stuck with a multi-million dollar new fire company, and a substantial addition couldn’t have been added to the old one- there is space- it survived and worked for 50 years- why now? again, more commercial dollars for the township. and when the Livingston and Myers historic properties “go down”, again that will bring money to the twp- but not any “creds” for saving historic properties for re-use. NEW IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER.

  2. Terrence Downs says:

    We are fortunate that York and surrounding townships, boroughs and major thoroughfares have a vast stock of structures to redevelop. The wish is to get support ‘From The Top’ – meaning County Legislators, House Reps, Senator and craft legislation that embraces this with incentives where possible. Also a local municipality should not be enabled to allow further development where a surplus orglut of comparable space exists and older and noteworthy sites/properties may be jeopardized. Again local municipalities should look to remove blight not by obliteration. Think hard to what Greater York has lost and learn from that! You need not go back too far in time.

    Time is also present to have Realtors, Developers, promoters and the like that CAN make YORK to rival places that surround Philadelphia (Manyunk), Baltimore (Fells Point), Lancaster (James Street). I urge our cadre of legislators, local civic leaders to work proactively to forge a county-wide charette to this cause and see what incentives, legislation can be created. Development is what we’ve made it up to this point – now lets make it work in York’s image, not a vanilla ring bedroom community alike any travel on any Interstate highway.

    Lastly those that hold this idiom of preserving York’s visible and cultural identity in place work in professional manners, protocol and esteem, and not wave their saber wildly; for voices welled-over with enthusiasm with all good intentions but sound caustic will in fact deter the cause. Now is the time York also ‘Salvage Proactivity’ as well as creativity. The good work will follow.

    • jane heller says:

      Nice idea, but maybe you hadn’t noticed that all the protest, because the event was covered over, could not save the 1939 Long Barn, ( falsely listed as a reproduction built in the 50’s and with no historic or social value, by the twp). here it was done quickly and quietly so there could be no public protest. and all the gentle words would have never saved it- just as they did nothing to save the Ettline house- The twp knew the plans of Dollar General early in the game, probably in April- that only became public knowledge months after when an active effort was then made to stop the D.G.’s plan- the twp had no plan to stop the company- there are no legal methods in place in the twp to do so, at this time. and none was planned at that time. so let’s not be naive- sweet and gentle might work in some situations, but not always and not when a huge corporation is determiend to act. What actually moved the D.G. away from doing the deal, along with the public outrage,was a renewed contact with another, more suitable location, with NO public anger as an issue.

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