At the start of 2021, SoWe acquired a vacant lot on the corner of Filbert and Fremont Sts. in the heart of the Cabbage Hill neighborhood in SoWe. You may remember this site because it housed a large billboard. SoWe first requested the removal of the billboard from the owner as it was beginning to fall. The billboard was unsightly in a dense residential neighborhood. After negotiations Lamar Advertising agreed to remove the billboard and donate the lot to the neighborhood.
The Southwest Revitalization Strategy for parks and public realm calls for creating additional open space amenities for the neighborhood. The SoWe Parks Committee has been diligently working to identify potential open space areas since its inception in 2016. The committee is excited to work with the community to create a small pocket park on this lot.
SoWe Parks Committee worked to engage the neighborhood to gather feedback on the space. The committee held a community engagement session in June of 2021 and gathered residents to hear feedback and watch films that celebrated Black filmmakers in honor of Juneteenth. Additionally, SoWe engaged residents and partners with experience with urban landscape design to act as a steering committee to guide the plan. The community envisioned a space that would be a healing place for reflection, provide additional green space and plantings, and public art.
We are excited to announce that we are ready to ‘break ground’ this April. The first phase of the plan is landscaping. On April 22nd, we are inviting community members for a volunteer workday to plant and spread mulch. We hope that you will join us to establish this pocket park as a healing garden and celebrate as a community. We will be joined by our partners the City of Lancaster, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Penn State Master Gardeners. Following the planting day, we will continue to engage residents and a local artist to explore public art opportunities.
Installation of the Artful Intersection planned for the top of Cabbage Hill will commence on Sept. 11, followed by a Community Paint Day on Sept. 18. Motorists should be advised of street closures in the area on both days.
September 11 | 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
– W. Vine St. at E. Filbert St.
– W. Strawberry St. between Vine St. and St. Joseph St.
September 18 | 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
– W. Vine St. at E. Filbert St., and between St. Joseph St. to W. Strawberry St./Mulberry St. intersection
– W. Strawberry St. at High St., and between Vine St. and St. Joseph St.
– S. Mulberry St. at King St.
Residents living on W. Vine St. may use the St. Joseph’s Church parking lot as a detour thru to St. Joseph St. between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on both days of closure. All motorists should follow posted detours on both days of closure.
A street mural created by artist Fern Dannis in partnership with Peter Barber of Two Dudes Painting Company using input from the community will help improve pedestrian safety and enhance public space at the intersection of W. Strawberry St., W. Vine St. and S. Mulberry St.
This five-way intersection is a sometimes-confusing space integral to neighborhood and city-wide traffic circulation. The artful intersection is expected to expand the perceived public space to encompass the street; increase awareness and safety of alternative forms of transportation, and boost community development.
The project team welcomes the community to attend the Community Paint Day on September 18. Those wishing to volunteer can sign up at here.
Dannis and Barber were selected by a project team, including site neighbors, arts professionals and a Public Art Advisory Board (PAAB) member.
This project is part of the Bloomberg Foundation’s Asphalt Art Initiative grant program, which embraces art as an effective and relatively low-cost strategy to activate their streets. The City of Lancaster is one of 16 cities to receive this grant, in partnership with SoWe, a resident-led community initiative of Tenfold (formerly Tabor/LHOP).
For more information about Artful Intersections and the project process, visit engage.cityoflancasterpa.com/en/projects/artful-intersections-cabbage-hill.
The City of Lancaster is working with local artist, Fern Dannis, along with Two Dudes Painting Company to create an artful intersection at the Strawberry Hill intersection. This project is part of the Bloomberg Foundation’s Asphalt Art Initiative to create street murals and other creative interventions to improve pedestrian safety and enhance public spaces.
The intersection of West Strawberry Street, West Vine Street, and South Mulberry Street sits at the top of Cabbage Hill. This five-way intersection is a confusing space for pedestrians and vehicles and is integral to the neighborhood and city-wide traffic circulation. Public engagement is beginning June 3rd, with the artwork being designed over the summer. The final application of paint-to-asphalt is set for September 11, 2021.
Cant make the community events but still want to provide feedback? Fill out this survey.
What is an artful intersection? Artful Intersections connect artists and neighbors to work together to create street murals in their neighborhoods. The street murals serve as a reflection of the life and culture of the neighborhood; it is expected to expand the perceived public space to encompass the street; increase awareness and safety of alternative forms of transportation, and boost community development.
To learn more about the project, please visit https://engage.cityoflancasterpa.com. We are asking residents to respond to a community survey to provide input on pedestrian safety and the artwork for the intersection.
They were once
the dominant style of house on Cabbage Hill, but now they are far outnumbered
by Victorian rowhouses and duplexes. Most have been torn down, and many of the
ones that remain have been remodeled and disguised to the point that it’s hard
to recognize them anymore. Nevertheless, if you pay attention, you can still
see good examples of the original house style of old Cabbage Hill—the small one-story
house (also sometimes known as the one-and-a-half-story house).
what would eventually become known as Cabbage Hill had only a few scattered
houses and farm buildings, constructed mostly of hand-hewn logs. By 1800, a
cluster of houses had been built in Bethelstown—the first two blocks of Manor
and High Streets—while the rest of the Hill was still undeveloped. In
Bethelstown, in 1800, the number of houses was only about 20, with some made of
brick but still mostly of log, and nearly all one-story.
Bethelstown had grown to nearly 100 houses, with a few two-story houses
appearing but still with mostly one-story houses. Brick was fast becoming the
most popular construction material. Shortly after 1850, the rest of the Hill
began to be developed, with a mixture of two-story and one-story houses being
built, mostly with bricks. By 1875, brick houses were being built by the
hundreds all over the Hill, and nearly all of them were larger and of two or
three stories. The era of small one-story houses was mostly over, and as they began
to age, many were torn down and replaced with the larger, multi-story houses
that dominate the Hill today.
When the era
of small one-story houses ended about 1875, there were about 150 of them on
Cabbage Hill, as defined by the area bounded by Manor, West Strawberry,
Fremont, and Fairview. By the early 1900s, that number had been reduced to
about 120 as some were replaced with larger houses. Today, there are only 57
one-story houses left on the Hill. High Street and Manor Street, which include
what used to be old Bethelstown, have the most, with 26 and 16, respectively.
St. Joseph (5), Poplar (3), Lafayette (3), Fremont (2), Fairview (1), and West
Strawberry (1) don’t have nearly as many. Of the one-story houses that remain, 36
are brick and 21are wood frame.
of the 57 remaining one-story houses were built before the Civil War, with 31
of them being built in the 1850s and the other seven in the 1840s or earlier.
The great majority of the 38 houses built before the Civil War are in the first
two blocks of Manor and High. Another 11 of the remaining one-story houses were
built in the 1860s, and eight were built after 1870, including a few as late as
the 1880s and 1890s. The great majority of the one-story houses built in the
1860s and later are not on Manor and High, but in surrounding blocks where
development was spreading after the Civil War.
the remaining 57 one-story houses are relatively small, they are not all the
same size. The smaller houses have just two bays (a door and one window on the
front), with the smallest two-bay houses measuring only about 11 feet wide
(412, 545-547, and 549-551 Manor). The larger houses have four bays (a door and
three windows on the front), with the largest of these approaching 20 feet wide
(416, 539 High). All are at least as deep as they are wide, and some have
additions attached to the rear of the house, some of which are original. Square
footage ranges from less than 500 to more than 1,000 square feet. Most have two
to four rooms on the first floor and one to two rooms in the attic. Even though
many families were large, houses did not have to be big in the mid-1800s. Working-class
families did not own much furniture or have many personal belongings, and for
many, houses were mainly protection from the weather.
interesting feature of the one-story houses on the Hill is the fact that many
of them were built as pairs. Twenty-two of the remaining 57 houses are combined
in 11 pairs. In most of these pairs, the two houses are symmetrical pairs
(mirror images), where the house on each side is the same size but reversed in
terms of the location of the front door. In a couple of the pairs, one side is
bigger than the other, which makes them asymmetrical. In addition to the 11
pairs, there is one grouping where four houses are grouped into a connected row
(548-554 Manor). There are also several instances where one side of an original
pair has been converted into a two-story house, in which case the two-story
house has not been counted among the 57 remaining houses.
Most of the
one-story houses have first floors that were raised above street and sidewalk
level. Many are about two feet above street level, and some are three feet or
more above. There may be several reasons for this: (1) To minimize excavation;
(2) to allow the first floor at the rear of the house to be level with the higher
backyard; and (3) to elevate the front door above the dirt roads that would
frequently flood and get muddy when it rained.
of the remaining 57one-story houses have
been altered over the years. Some have had dormers added and some have had
their original dormers enlarged. Some of the brick houses have had their brick
painted. Many of the houses, both brick and frame, have been sheathed in
aluminum or vinyl siding, and a fair number have had form-stone installed on
their front sides. Most have had their original doors and windows replaced, and
some have had front porches added. Nearly all of them have had their original
roofs—wood or slate shingles—replaced with composition shingles or metal. Despite
the alterations to most of the houses, several have retained most of their
original character and no doubt look much the same as they did a century or
remaining one-story houses on Cabbage Hill are the survivors of a much larger population
of such houses on the Hill. Most of the survivors have seen more than ten
owners and dozens of different tenants, and some have undergone numerous and
sometimes major alterations, both externally and internally. But even with all
the changes, it is still possible to look at these houses today and imagine how
the Hill must have looked in its very early years, when only widely-spaced houses
like these were present. These early one-story houses are valuable in a
historic sense, and they deserve to be respected by their landlords and
tenants. It is important to make sure these old houses continue to survive as
picturesque reminders of old Cabbage Hill.
Note: Once research facilities open up
again, I will nail down a few loose ends and post a complete list of all 57
one-story houses on the Hill, along with dates of construction, builders’
names, and primary early owners.
A quiz for
Cabbage Hill residents: Which of the following five street names were actual
street names on Cabbage Hill in the nineteenth century? (1) Buttonwood Alley,
(2) Roberts Street, (3) West Washington Street, (4) Williams Lane, and (5) Slab
to the quiz: All five were actual street names on the Hill. OK, maybe the
question is a little unfair, even for old-timers. You would have to be well
over 100 years old to have any in-person
memory of some of the street names in the quiz.
The point is
that the names of many of the streets on the Hill have changed over the past
200 years. Specifically, there are 12 main streets in the historic core of
Cabbage Hill, which is bounded by Manor, West Strawberry, Fremont, and Fairview.
Those 12 streets have had more than 30 different names.
Street, the oldest street on the Hill, was already a well-traveled Native
American trading trail when Lancaster was founded in 1729. It was known as the
Blue Rock Road in the mid to late 1700s, because it led to an early ferry
across the Susquehanna at Blue Rock just south of Washington Boro. In the early
1800s, the southwestern stretch of the street was often called the Manor
Turnpike, because of the toll levied on travelers as they crossed the
southwestern city limits. Finally, in the mid-1800s, the street became known as
Strawberry Street is the second oldest street on the Hill, having been a dirt cowpath
that marked the southwest edge of central Lancaster when James Hamilton laid
out his building lots in 1729. It was known as Slab Alley as late as the 1840s
and then in the early 1850s, it became West Strawberry, to distinguish it from
its continuation known as East Strawberry on the other side of South Queen
On the opposite
end of the historic core of the Hill, Fairview Avenue has been around a long
time as a connecting road to South Prince and South Queen at Engleside. From
the mid-1800s to 1915, it was called Love Lane, and it has been Fairview Avenue
since then. The change of name to Fairview makes sense because it runs along a
ridge from which expansive views were possible. I can find no explanation for
its first, more amorous, name.
originated with the founding of Bethelstown in 1762 when building lots were
laid out on either side of its first two blocks (400 and 500 blocks). By the
1850s, High had been extended southwest to Love Lane, bridging the small stream
at the bottom of the hill where New Dorwart is today. Presumably it was called
High because of the location of the 400 block on a high point known as Dinah’s
Street has a complicated naming history. The 400 block of St. Joseph was
established in 1850 when St. Joseph Catholic Church was built. At the time the
church was built, the street it fronted was called Union Street (not to be
confused with today’s Union a few blocks to the southeast, which didn’t exist
yet). Then, in the early 1850s, just to make things even more confusing, the
street was sometimes referred to as Poplar Street (before today’s Poplar a
block over was established). Finally, by the end of the 1850s, the 400 and 500
blocks were renamed St. Joseph. However, at that time, St. Joseph did not
extend beyond what is now New Dorwart, and in the meantime the 700 block
between Fairview and Laurel had been laid out, and the street there was known
as West Washington Street. In the late 1850s, when the two streets were
connected by the building of a bridge over the small stream at the future New
Dorwart, the entire street became known as St. Joseph.
we’ve brought up Poplar Street……When St. Joseph Church was built in 1850, the
small alley behind the church with no houses on it had no name. In the late
1850s, it became Poplar and it was extended to the stream at the bottom of the
hill at about the same time the future 700 block of Poplar was laid out on the
far side of the stream. In 1870, building lots were laid out on the east side
of the 400 block of Poplar. A year later, on the other side of the stream, the
700 block was named Poplar Alley. In the late 1870s, the street was connected
with a bridge over the stream, and the whole street was named Poplar Street.
farther east, Fremont Street was established in the late 1850s, starting with
the 700 block between Fairview and Laurel. In 1870, when the building lots were
laid out along the 400 block of Poplar, so too were building lots on both sides
of the 400 block of Fremont. In the early 1870s, the two ends of Fremont were
connected by completing the street in between them. Like Love Lane, I don’t know
the origin of the name of Fremont Street, although when the street was first
laid out in the 1850s, John C. Fremont was a popular national personality who
had been an explorer of the West and then the Republican opponent of James
Buchanan in the 1856 presidential election.
Now heading back
to the west……West Vine Street started as a narrow alley behind the
Bethelstown lots that fronted on the southeast side of High in 1762. The first
inkling of the street that would become West Vine was born between Fairview and
Laurel, where Buttonwood Alley was established in the late 1850s. When the
blocks to the northwest up to West Strawberry were established by the 1880s,
they were called Buttonwood Street. Buttonwood was renamed West Vine in 1890 as
the southwestern continuation of the older West Vine on the other side of West
Next, to a
street that cuts across the Hill from the northwest to the southeast—Laurel
Street. It was first named in the early 1850s when it was a private lane
providing access to the 25-acre property of John Williams between Manor and St.
Joseph, and naturally enough it was called Williams Lane. In the 1860s, it was briefly
known as New German Street, and then just New Street, and by about 1870, it
became known as Laurel Alley, possibly named for local vegetation. From about 1885
to today, it has been Laurel Street.
northwest-southeast street is Filbert Street. From the establishment of
Bethelstown in 1762, there had always been an alley where the first block of
Filbert is now. In the late 1850s to early 1860s, it was known locally as
Gougler’s Alley, so named because of the house of Jacob and Rebecca Gougler at
its intersection with Manor. But it wasn’t until 1871, when the city named or
renamed all its alleys, that it became Filbert Alley. About 1890, Filbert Alley
was promoted to Filbert Street. Because of irregular property boundaries near
the old St. Joseph Cemetery, Filbert had to be offset slightly at St. Joseph
alley that eventually grew up to be a street is Lafayette Street. In old
Bethelstown, the lots on the southeast side of Manor extended back to meet the
lots on the northwest side of High. They met at a narrow alley that would
eventually become Lafayette Alley. In the late 1850s, houses had started to be
built fronting the alley and the 400 block of the alley was widened to become
Lafayette Street. At the same time, the 700 block of Lafayette was established,
with a gap in the street where the 500 and 600 blocks would soon be. By about
1890, the two developed ends of the street met in the middle, making one
continuous Lafayette Street. The street may have been named for the Lafayette Hotel,
which existed on Manor in the 1840s and 1850s, and backed to the alley that
would become Lafayette.
streets that run from West Strawberry to Fairview had to contend with the small
stream that used to run where New Dorwart is today. For most of those streets,
the last segments to be built (the 500 and 600 blocks) were the ones nearest
the stream. In the 1860s, it appears that a rough path that ran along the
stream valley was known as Roberts Lane, likely named for Anthony Roberts who
owned land nearby. In the 1880s, the city placed a 6-foot-high brick sewer
under the stream, diverted the stream into it, and built New Dorwart on top of
it. New Dorwart was first named South Dorwart, a name that faded gradually over
time and was finally replaced with New Dorwart about the 1920s. New Dorwart had
to be offset at Lafayette, and again at High, because of bends in the
now-vanished stream around which early houses had to be built.
Now, if your
eyes have not yet completely glazed over with all these street names………In honor
of this month’s Valentine’s Day, if anybody has any ideas on why Fairview
Avenue was originally called Love Lane, please comment with your ideas!
We are hiring! We are seeking a dedicated community member to serve as a Housing Location Specialist. The Housing Location Specialist will develop and maintain working relationships with Lancaster landlords and property managers for the purpose of locating and securing housing for residents residing in Southern Lancaster City
Housing Location Specialist (part of the SoWe program)
Tabor Community Services, a
non-profit community benefit organization providing programs and
services to foster housing and financial stability in Lancaster County,
PA, is seeking qualified candidates for a
full-time Housing Location Specialist employed and supervised by
Tabor/LHOP as part of the SoWe program.
The Housing Location Specialist
will develop and maintain working relationships with Lancaster
landlords and property managers for the purpose of locating and securing
housing for residents residing in Southern Lancaster City. For the full
list of functions, please read the full job description.
Key Qualifications include:
2 years of post-secondary education required; Bachelor’s degree preferred.
One year of relevant experience required; two or more years preferred. Experience working in rental housing field preferred.
Commitment to housing as a human right.
Negotiation and sales skills are essential.
Ability to understand the
interests and concerns of landlords/property managers, and develop
effective working relationships with them.
Knowledge of available affordable rental housing in the County, building codes and safety standards for rental housing.
Knowledge/understanding of tenant’s rights and responsibilities
Excellent communication skills especially in listening and mediation.
Strong organizational skills with ability to meet a demanding workload.
Detail-orientated to complete requirements of files and contract compliance.
Ability to speak, write, and understand English is required; fluency in Spanish preferred.
Proficiency using computers and Microsoft Office.
Sensitivity to cultural and socio-economic characteristics of population served.
The ability to establish and maintain respectful relationships and healthy boundaries with residents.
The ability to work collaboratively with other personnel and/or service providers.
Valid driver’s license, a car, and willingness to travel in the community
One of the better-preserved
one-story houses in Lancaster is the blue house with the red door at 434 West
King Street. This four-bay, center-chimney, Germanic-style house is typical of
the many hundreds of such houses, also sometimes known as one-and-a-half-story
houses, that once dominated the architecture of the city during the Federal
period of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The 550-square-foot
house is located on the very northern edge of the SoWe project area, less than
a block outside of Cabbage Hill.
How old is
the house? Who built it? Who owned it over the years? There is not much
information available to answer these questions, and what little exists is somewhat
contradictory. Real-estate websites date the house as early as the 1790s and as
late as 1880. A 1985 survey by the Historic Preservation Trust and a 1995
report by the City of Lancaster both refer to the property as the Geise House
and date it to about 1840. But an old map and tax records show that a Barbara Geiss
owned the house next door instead. To try to resolve these conflicts and answer
the questions above, extensive research into historic deed, tax, directory,
newspaper, and other sources was undertaken.
of that research indicates that 434 West King has an interesting and fairly
complicated history. Construction of this venerable old one-story frame house probably
was completed in 1817. The lot where the house is located was originally 64
feet wide along the south side of West King and 245 feet deep to what would
eventually become Campbell Alley. The house’s early history is closely tied to
the Eberman family, a prominent family in Lancaster in the late 1700s.
III (1776-1846) probably began building the house at 434 in late 1816. John III,
a cashier and bank treasurer, was the son of John Eberman, Jr. (1749-1835), a
famous clockmaker whose clocks are highly valued today. John, Jr. also was a
prominent Lancaster citizen who served as Chief Burgess and Justice of the
Peace, and as a sergeant in the Revolutionary War. John, Jr. made and installed
the four-dial clock in the steeple of the second courthouse in the square about
1785. John, Jr.’s father, John Eberman, Sr. (1722-1805), was a soap boiler and
tallow chandler who immigrated to Lancaster from Germany in the mid-1740s. The
Ebermans were a prolific family: John, Sr. had 12 children, John, Jr. 13, and
John III 10.
members of the extended Eberman family owned 434 from 1816 to 1838. Before John
III had even completed the house, his first tenant moved in. Tax records show
that John III rented the house “unfinished to P. Shugar’s” in 1817. (Presumably
John III and/or Shugar completed the house shortly thereafter.) Peter Shugar
was related to John III through marriage; he had married John III’s aunt,
Elizabeth Eberman, in 1796. Upon marrying into the Eberman family, Shugar took
over the aging John, Sr.’s soap and chandler business. The Shugars had six
Peter Shugar, whose surname was later anglicized to Schucker, died a couple
years after moving into 434. Immediately after Peter’s death, his wife
Elizabeth bought the house, which was valued at $250, from her nephew, John
III. A few years later, in 1823 or 1824, Elizabeth divided the lot into two,
keeping 434 on the western half of the lot for herself and selling the vacant eastern
half of the lot back to her nephew, John III. By 1829, John III had built a
one-story frame house on the eastern half of the lot, the house number for
which would eventually be 430. (This house, which had a brick front and was a
little larger than 434, was torn down around 1900 and replaced with the three-story
building that now stands to the east of 434.)
In 1830 or
1831, the ownership of 434 became more complicated. Elizabeth Shugar sold the
house to Jacob Eberman, a shoemaker who was Elizabeth’s nephew, the son of her
older brother Philip. Jacob was also Elizabeth’s son-in-law. He had married his
first cousin, Peter and Elizabeth’s daughter Sarah Shugar, in 1824. Jacob’s
ownership of 434 did not last very long. By 1832, Jacob and Sarah and their
children had moved to Wooster, Ohio, selling 434 to Jacob’s cousin William
Eberman, the son of John, Jr., the clockmaker, and the younger brother of John
III. (Jacob and Sarah would return to Lancaster about a year later, and live in
a one-story house on West King across from 434.) William Eberman, who bought
434 from Jacob, was a tinsmith and an innkeeper. William also bought the house
at 430 at the same time.
Eberman owned 434 and 430 until 1838 when he apparently ran into financial
trouble and was forced to sell the two houses to pay off his debts. Dr. Charles
Herbst, a pharmacist, bought both houses at a public sale in September 1838. In
a newspaper advertisement for the sale, the houses were described as “two one
story frame dwelling houses, one of which has a brick front a wood shed etc.”
on a “full lot of ground on the south side of West King Street.”
Herbst sold both houses on April 1, 1840. The house at 430 was sold to Barbara
Geiss, a widow with a young son, for $475. The house at 434 was sold for $425
to Margaret Gantz, a widow who had two children. At about the same time widow
Gantz bought 434, she remarried, to Joseph Kunkle. Joseph Kunkle was a peddler,
and he and Margaret had four more children together over the next decade.
died in the mid-1860s. His wife Margaret continued living in 434 until her
death in 1890. Margaret’s will stipulated that her daughters Mary and Rose were
to continue to live in 434 as long as they wished. The two sisters lived there
following Margaret’s death for five years until Rose came down from the attic
level one day to discover her sister Mary dead in the summer kitchen.
Rose Kunkle continued
living in 434 until she married Leo Myers in 1909 and moved with him to St.
Joseph Street, where Leo ran a grocery store. (Leo Myers’ grocery was located
in the recently-painted light green house on the corner of Filbert and St.
Joseph Streets, with “Welcome to Cabbage Hill” painted on its side.) When Leo
died in 1913, Rose moved back to 434, living there alone until her death in
death, the administrator for Margaret Kunkle’s estate sold the house at public
sale to Sarah and Jack Winkoff, who paid $4,380 for the house and half lot. An
advertisement for the public sale stated that the “Lot fronts 33 feet on the
south side of West King street…” and “The improvements consist of a 1 ½ story
frame house, with six rooms.”
rented out 434 until 1965, when they sold it to Ronald Cook, who lived there
until 1973, when he sold it to Carol Miller, who lived there into the 1980s. The
current owner is David Aviles Morales, who has maintained it without changing
its basic historical appearance. The house is now available for booking as an
answer the earlier questions: 434 West King was built about 1817 by John
Eberman III. For a 203-year-old house, it has not had very many owners, with
the Eberman, Kunkle, and Minkoff families accounting for nearly 150 of those years.
A good name for the house might be the Eberman-Kunkle House, in honor of its
builder and the family that owned it the longest.
survivor from an earlier time in Lancaster’s history, 434 West King reminds us
of what much of Lancaster used to look like. Hopefully, it will continue to
have owners dedicated to its preservation, and serve as a reminder of our
history for many years to come.
Support SoWe and Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership during the 2020 Extra Give on Friday, November 20th. Since 2016, Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership has been intentionally working with the residents of South West Lancaster City. The goal of the SoWe initiative is to stem the tide of disinvestment and create a neighborhood that is safe, attractive to economic investment, full of opportunities for residents, and welcoming to visitors. This has been a challenging year for neighborhood residents due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SoWe has worked hard with our collaborative partners to ensure residents have the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.
SoWe is excited to the announce the opening of Culliton Park on November 20th to the public. Donate during the Extra Give to support our community! Just put a note with your online gift: SoWe (your gift will be designated to SoWe).
has been home to many successful businesses over the past 150 years, some of
which have succeeded over several generations. Kunzler & Company, Inc. may
be one of the first to come to mind. But not all successful Hill businesses
lasted that long. One of the most successful businesses was the Helvetia
Leather Company, which is largely forgotten today. However, in the latter half
of the nineteenth century, working out of a large lot on Poplar Street, the
company achieved nationwide recognition for its unique products, but it was in
business for only about 30 years.
mid-1870s, Albert Wetter, a Swiss immigrant living on West Strawberry near
South Water, began experimenting with a new way to make leather. By 1879, he
had patented his new method, which used hot air instead of tannin to make
leather from animal hides. Soon Wetter’s new method attracted several investors
and together they started to manufacture “Helvetia leather”, a tough but
pliable leather that was well suited to manufacturing applications. (Helvetia
was the Roman name for Switzerland, Albert Wetter’s native country.)
venture, known by the names of its largest investors, Potts, Locher, & Dickey,
needed a place to conduct its business. In 1879, Wetter purchased a large lot
on the southeast side of the 500 block of Poplar, where the houses at 520-538
are located today. The lot extended 202 feet along Poplar, and 87 feet to an
alley that is now South Arch. Later, the company would purchase another lot
adjacent to the first, this one fronting on Fremont 100 feet and extending 85
feet to the same alley from the opposite direction.
his partners built a large two-story brick factory and associated frame and
brick buildings in which they started producing leather using Wetter’s new method.
The factory was powered by a steam engine using coal as its fuel source. Wetter
purchased the house next door at 518 Poplar in 1880 and he, his wife Lizzie,
and their son Robert moved in beside the factory. In 1882, Wetter enlisted the
noted Lancaster inventor, Anthony Iske, to design machinery that would make the
hot-air method of producing leather more efficient, and together they patented
that machinery. The company began to make a name for itself in the heavy-duty
its founding in 1729, Lancaster had always had numerous tanneries. Tanning
leather was a difficult and messy process. Fresh animal hides had to be
purchased from butcher shops and farms, and they had to be cleaned, de-haired,
cured, and dried for several weeks before they were ready to be tanned. Tanning
usually was accomplished through the use of tannin, which was obtained from
tree bark through a time-consuming process, but with Wetter’s new hot-air
method, that part of the process could be avoided.
Even so, the
tanning that took place on Poplar must have been a dirty, noisy, smelly
activity, becoming especially bothersome as that block of Poplar was built out with
houses in the 1880s. Also, tanning no doubt resulted in some nasty waste
products that were drained off downhill into the small stream that ran where
New Dorwart is located today. Following the burial of that small stream in a
sewer under New Dorwart by the late 1890s, the company built their own sewer to
connect to the one under New Dorwart, and discharged their waste that way.
due mostly to bad management, the first incarnation of Wetter’s business failed
after a few years. Wetter and his partners were forced to sell the Potts,
Locher, & Dickey business in 1882. The business was bought by a different
group of investors headed by John Holman and Philip Snyder. After a few years
of gradual success under its new management team, the business went public on
September 7, 1886, sold shares, and became a corporation called the Helvetia
Leather Company. (Wetter was not part of the newly incorporated business; in
fact, he seems to have left Lancaster.) The growing company, chartered for the
purpose of “tanning and manufacturing leather by patented or other process”,
soon became famous for its leather, which was ideal for belts in machinery,
laces for boots and shoes, industrial aprons, and similar uses.
nationwide recognition of the company was mainly due to its belt leather, that
is, belts used to run heavy-duty machinery in sawmills, cotton mills, silk
mills, printing plants, iron forges, railroad shops, and similar factories.
Helvetia leather was made only from the high-quality centers of the animal
hides, with the edges being cut off and sold to other manufacturers of different
leather products. The company’s leather belts were said to be strong yet
pliable, no matter their thickness, and they could run machinery with less
tension required than with other types of leather belts. The company’s belts
performed equally well in cold and hot temperatures, and did not slip as much
Leather Company made heavy-duty leather belts for factories as far west as
South Dakota, as far south as the Carolinas, and as far north as Massachusetts.
Companies such as the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, the Nonotuck Silk Mills,
the Lancaster New Era, and the Clark Mile End Spool Cotton Company installed
belts made by the Helvetia Leather Company. In fact, the Clark Mile End Spool
Cotton Company in Massachusetts used nearly two miles of Helvetia belting in
its factory, with one single belt being more than 2,100 feet long, a record for
the 1880s and the 1890s, the Helvetia Leather Company on Poplar flourished
under the leadership of John Holman and Philip Snyder, as well as several other
prominent Lancaster businessmen. Robert Houston was President for most of those
years, and local businessmen Allan Herr, Abraham Rohrer, Charles Landis, Elmer
Steigerwalt, and Benjamin Atlee played important roles in officer positions.
Gustavus Groezinger, owner of Groezinger’s Tannery at the foot of West
Strawberry, also was an investor and officer. For many years, John Zercher was
the factory superintendent, until he died suddenly at his desk one morning in
By the first
decade of the twentieth century, Helvetia Leather Company had trouble paying
its shareholders their annual dividends because of high prices for raw
materials. By the end of the decade, the company struggled to meet expenses, no
doubt partly because of the rising popularity of rubber belting. As a result,
the company was put up for public sale in 1909, but the reserve amount was not
met. It was finally sold in 1910 to Henry Schneider, and its buildings were almost
immediately razed to make room for new houses. Within two years, eight two-story
brick houses had been built at 520-534 Poplar.
unusual houses at 536-538 Poplar are all
that remain of the Helvetia Leather Company’s complex of buildings; these two
houses used to mark the southwestern extent of the tannery property. Looking at
the row of eight tidy houses just uphill from 536-538 now, it is difficult to imagine
that, in their place, a large, busy, noisy tannery once produced machinery
belts and other products that helped run factories all around the country.
Today, the Helvetia Leather Company is just another ghost of Cabbage Hill past.
In the mid-19th
to early 20th centuries, Cabbage Hill boasted numerous hotels. Most
didn’t look like the typical hotels of today, but instead looked like larger
houses, with saloons on the first floor and rooms for rent in a rear wing. The
proprietor and his family usually lived on the second floor above the saloon. Often
hotels had a main front door for the saloon and hotel, and a second door off to
one side for the proprietor’s upstairs living quarters. Most old hotels were on
corners at intersections.
By far the
earliest (1745) hotel near Cabbage Hill was the Golden Plough (later the Plow
Tavern) at West King and Charlotte, just north of the Hill proper (razed in
1928). Probably the earliest hotel actually on the Hill was the Lafayette Hotel
operated by George Hinkle in the 400 block of Manor Street in the mid-1840s (no
longer there). After the Lafayette went out of business in the early 1850s,
there were no more hotels on the Hill until after the Civil War, although there
were always a couple saloons.
Civil War and the beginning of the 20th century, eight iconic hotels
were established in the historic core of the Hill, bounded by Manor, West
Strawberry, Fremont, and Fairview. Each of these eight hotels flourished at
least until the back-to-back challenges of Prohibition and the Great Depression,
which put several of them out of the hotel business. The saloon part of their
business, however, persisted through Prohibition, with many of them becoming
speak-easies and occasionally running afoul of the Volstead Act. After World
War II, many of the saloons in the old hotels were transformed into cafes,
taverns, and bars through the late 1900s. Although none of the eight iconic
hotels is a hotel anymore, all eight hotel buildings survive, and some still
house successful businesses.
In their heyday,
the eight hotels were the hubs of many Hill activities. Political meetings,
speeches, and rallies often took place in the hotels, sometimes drawing
hundreds of people. Many of the hotels served as polling places as well.
Special events and celebrations often took place at the hotels, and music and
dancing were common on weekends. Athletic, shooting, and other competitions
between different hotel were frequently arranged. And, of course, Hill
residents spent many a night gathered around the long bars drinking locally
brewed beers. Occasionally, fights would break out and the police would be
iconic Hill hotels are briefly described next, starting with the oldest:
Hotel, 128 West Strawberry—Established by Samuel Erisman in 1865, and named in 1876 during the
Nation’s 100th birthday, the Centennial started out as a saloon in a
one-story frame building. In 1892, the old building was replaced with a 3-story
brick one (the current building) with 15 rooms, one bath, and a large bar room.
Edward Kirchner ran the hotel and saloon during the challenging Prohibition
years. Obie Miller’s Steak House operated in the building from the mid-1940s to
the mid-1980s, and then Strawberry Hill Restaurant from the mid-1980s to 2012.
The scars of two large saloon windows remain near the angled front door.
Hotel, 450-452 High—In
1865, Christian Diehl built a 2-story frame building and opened a saloon in it.
When he died in 1877, his wife Victoria took over running the saloon, added a
hotel component, and named it Victoria Hotel. She replaced the frame building
with the current brick one about 1890. Joseph Fritsch ran the hotel and saloon
until Prohibition in 1920. The hotel business closed in 1937, and Ziegler’s
Café operated here in the 1940s. The outline of the old hotel entrance is still
visible in the brick pattern on the façade.
House, 476 Poplar—Martin
Kempf built the current building and opened it as a saloon in 1873. After
Kempf’s death, John Snyder took over in the 1880s and 1890s and added the hotel
business, calling it La Pierre House. Lancaster brewer Charles Wacker bought
the hotel and saloon in 1900 and Charles A. Kirchner ran it for him until 1930.
At that time, the hotel business closed, and Albert Karch ran Fibber’s Café in
the old saloon until 1953. Since then, it has been Danz Café, Brau House,
Farrell’s Café, and My Linda’s Tavern, which closed in 1992.
Horse Hotel, 653-657 Manor—Albert Kohlhaas opened a saloon at this location in 1874, and built the
current building as the White Horse Hotel about 1880. He sold the hotel to
Frank Rieker of Rieker’s Brewery in 1899. John Kirchner ran the hotel for Rieker for
about 20 years, followed by Thomas Goodhart for 15 more. Since the 1940s, the hotel
has been closed, but numerous drinking and eating establishments have used the
building—Noden’s Café, Bishop’s Café, Bartnichak’s Café, and most recently,
O’Henry’s, which closed in the 1980s. Kunzler’s now uses the old hotel as its
corporate offices. Multi-colored formstone now covers the original brick
Hotel, 464-466 Manor—Started
as Charles Vogt’s saloon in 1874, the original building became William
Schneider’s Manor Street Hotel in the 1880s and 1890s. John Stumpf built a new
hotel (the current building) on the site in 1902, with 16 rooms, hot and cold
running water, and a huge cherry bar. Stumpf ran his hotel until 1937. After
Stumpf’s Hotel closed, a series of owners operated cafes, taverns, and bars
there, including Pat & Denze Café, Manor Bar, Gold Brick Tavern, Manor
Tavern, and Cosmos Bar & Grill, which closed in 2011.
Ward Hotel, 552-554 St. Joseph—Alexander Gerz built the current building about 1874 as the
new Green Cottage Hotel. Gerz’ heirs sold the hotel to Lucas Fritz, who ran it
as the Eighth Ward Hotel until the late 1880s, when it was taken over by Fritz’
son Charles until about 1900. William Hoenninger, Jr., ran the hotel and saloon
until about 1915. During Prohibition, Albert Hall sold soft drinks (at least) out
of the dormant saloon. The hotel part of the business closed during the Great
Depression. John Lermer and his wife Fannie ran Lermer’s Café from about 1940
to 1970, and from the late 1970s to 2012, it was the Starting Gate Inn. Formstone
now disguises any covered-up doors and windows from the old building.
Hotel, 764-766 High—In
1894, Frank Schwarz bought a relatively new store and house on the corner of
High and Fairview and a few years later he opened the Hotel Schwarz. Next, Casper
Kirchner ran the hotel until 1910, naming it the Fair View Hotel. Matthew
Miller, Carl Koenig, and Albert Bishop were the main proprietors of the Fair View
for the next 30 years. From 1947 to 1990, William Steinbaecher took over,
naming it Steinbaecher’s Hotel and expanding it farther along High. From the
early 1990s to today, it has been O’Halloran’s Irish Pub. Formstone covers up
any remnants of doors and windows from the old hotel and saloon.
Hotel, 558 High—The
current building was built in the early 1890s as a grocery store for John Kaetz.
By 1903, it was the Glen Hotel licensed to George Kirchner, and one owner
later, William Kirchner was the proprietor until 1909. Several different men
operated the Glen from 1909 into the 1930s, when the hotel closed and a series
of cafes and taverns and other businesses took over, including Hammel’s Café, Koenig’s
Café, Armand’s Tavern, the Glen Tavern, Tan Hoa Grocery, Peniel Church, and
currently Sunshine Nursery Daycare Center.
age of Cabbage Hill hotels is long past, but the buildings remain to remind us
of how important they were to the social lives of Hill residents. Now the rooms
in the old hotel buildings are apartments, as are many of the proprietor’s
quarters on the second floor. But many of the old first-floor saloons have been
converted for businesses, which is key to maintaining some of the neighborhood atmosphere
of the old days on today’s Hill.
thing: Did anybody notice while you were reading this how many of the hotel proprietors
were Kirchners? Edward, Charles, John, Casper, George, William—the Kirchners
must have had the hospitality business in their genes!