The City of Lancaster has been awarded a $25,000 national grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with the SoWe Neighborhood Group and the Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership to create a street mural at the intersection of West Strawberry, South Mulberry, and West Vine Streets in the Cabbage Hill neighborhood. Support is also being provided by Sherwin Williams. This project is supported by a grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Asphalt Art Initiative which helps cities use art and community engagement to improve street safety and revitalize public space. The focus of the initiative is asphalt art: visual interventions on roadways, pedestrian spaces, and vertical infrastructure. Lancaster is one of 16 cities to receive the grant.
“To achieve the goals and programs outlined in our Ten-Year Plan for Public Art, we rely on grants like this. The support allows us to work directly with community members to create projects in their neighborhoods. An exciting part of this project is how it puts artists and neighbors together to solve design problems while working together with planners and engineers in our Department of Public Works. ” said Joanna Davis, City of Lancaster Public Art Manager.
The project is in its early stages and set to develop through the summer of 2021 with the goal to install in early fall. A steering committee consisting of Cabbage Hill residents, arts professionals and a member of the Public Art Advisory Board has begun to meet. The steering committee will help to move the project along by assisting in community outreach efforts, artist selection, and design review.
“Public art has many useful definitions, but for our Lancaster community it needs to involve the public. This intersection [project] at Vine, Mulberry and Strawberry is about the decisions and process through which the art will come to be. It’s an exciting time–so get involved and make your voice heard!” said Mimi Shapiro, City of Lancaster resident, artist, and Steering Committee member.
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.