Cabbage Hill History Talk – May 5

(Aerial View of Historic Cabbage Hill Neighborhood)

Due to the popularity of this event, Jim will be sharing his presentation again! Join us on Sunday, May 5 from 4 to 5:30pm in the Parish Hall of St. Joseph Catholic Church (410 St. Joseph St.). Admission is FREE, and parking is available in the lot across the street from the church.

SoWe is hosting a talk by Jim Gerhart (author of “History on the Hill”) about a dynamic era in Cabbage Hill’s history. In an illustrated presentation, Jim will chronicle the growth of Cabbage Hill from a small settlement in the mid-1700s to the bustling working-class neighborhood of 1870-1970.

This 90 minute talk will focus on the people, institutions, businesses, and buildings that helped make Cabbage Hill such a close-knit, self-sufficient neighborhood. Along the way, Jim will discuss how the Hill’s Golden Century was made possible by several growth catalysts, including the establishment of St. Joseph Church, which is celebrating its 175th anniversary this spring.

The talk will conclude with a summary of some of the challenges facing the Hill since 1970, and how recent activities are making inroads against some of these challenges.

SoWe Store Stories: 568 Manor Street, Philip Schum (1852)

The building at 568 Manor Street is one of the oldest surviving buildings on Manor Street, having been built in 1852. Like most old stores on Cabbage Hill, it holds a special place in the memory of today’s older Hillians, with many neighborhood old-timers fondly recalling it as the Manor Street 5&10. But it also has an interesting history that goes back way beyond living memory.

Philip Schum, a German immigrant, built the double, two-and-a-half-story, brick house on the southeast side of Manor Street, just across from where Old Dorwart Street intersected Manor from the west. New Dorwart Street would not be opened for another few decades; instead, a stream ran past Schum’s new house, in the middle of what would later become New Dorwart. The double house had two front doors and was divided into two houses by a wall running through the middle of the building. The address of the house, according to the 1857 directory, was “Manor nr the Bridge”, referring to the bridge that had been built to carry Manor Street over the stream.

Schum ran a grocery store out of his new house, and soon added coverlets he made to his store inventory. The coverlets turned out to be very popular, so much so that he soon moved his store to Water Street, and focused exclusively on coverlets, becoming a wealthy, successful merchant. Schum and his wife would be killed near Salunga in 1880 when their carriage was hit by a train.

In 1857, when Schum moved to Water Street, he sold the double brick house on Manor to Jacob Shindel, the son of his neighbor, Peter Shindel, who lived in a log house along the stream next to Schum’s property. Jacob Shindel then sold the house to Adam Finger, a German immigrant, in 1860, for $3,000. Finger, his wife, and their four children lived on the second floor, and ran a grocery and dry goods store on the first floor of one side of the building. Over the forty years that Finger lived and worked there, he added more store and storage space to the rear of the house. He also sold the back of his lot for the building of houses facing New Dorwart in the 1880s, and then sold the land he owned on the northeast side of the next block of New Dorwart for more houses in the 1890s.

After Finger’s death, his son Philip sold the house and store to Philip Fellman for $2,500. Fellman and his brother Louis ran a hardware store out of the first floor, and lived above it. In the 1910s, the Fellmans added a three-story brick shop and warehouse behind the house along New Dorwart, where they added metal-working to their resume. For a brief spell in 1922-24, the store was leased to S.S.S. Stores of New York City.

In 1934, the house and store, as well as the warehouse and shop behind it, were sold for $2,705 at a Sheriff’s sale to Leonard Horst of Philadelphia. Horst never came to Lancaster but leased the store to American Stores Co, Inc., a grocery chain, and rented out the second floor as a residence.

In 1944, after Horst’s death, Joseph Martin of Dauphin County bought the property for $6,500. Martin also was a landlord who continued to lease the store, this time to Acme Supermarkets, renting out the second-floor residence. Martin also converted the warehouse and shop behind the house into apartments, which they have been since.

In the late 1940s, Martin leased the store as the Manor Street 5&10 Cents Store, which it remained into the mid-1970s. The store advertised frequently in the local newspapers, especially for special sales for Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, and Back-To-School days. In 1970, a fire in the attic was extinguished by the city fire department before any significant smoke or water damage could occur.

Santos Rodriguez bought the house, store, and apartment building in 1972 for $12,500. He completely renovated the apartments over a couple of years and then in 1976 sold the property to Charles Rettew of Lititz for $45,000. Rettew flipped the property that same year for $57,500, selling it to Michael Mastros of Lancaster. Mastros continued leasing the store and renting the apartments until he died in 2012 in a car accident.

For several years starting in the mid-1970s, the store was occupied by Playland and then Denny’s Game Room. The store was vacant throughout most of the 1980s. From 1991 to 2007, the store was occupied by De Jesus Mini Market, and from 2008 to 2011, J&A Mini Market. For the last twelve years, Sunshine Market has operated out of the store. The second floor and three-story rear attachment are still rented as apartments. The nearly 175-year-old building at 568 Manor has seen several modifications and additions. It started as a double house, serving as a store and residence, which it was until the first few years of the 1900s. At that point, the entire first floor was reconfigured as a store with a storefront, including two five-by-twelve-foot show windows (now covered); a cornice that spanned the entire front of the store, supported by large brick columns; and a recessed entrance. Added to the rear, also in the 1910s, was a three-story warehouse and shop that has been an apartment building for the last one hundred years. It started out as a house and store on a dirt road near a bridge over a stream, and ended up as the home of some of the key businesses in “downtown” Cabbage Hill.

Support SoWe During ExtraGive

If you’re participating in this year’s ExtraGive, please consider including SoWe in your giving. Your support helps your neighbors and our neighborhood! We use donations to:

  • Fund several neighborhood events every year, including our Earth Day Celebration, Annual Block Party, and our Halloween Trick or Treat. These events connect neighbors to each other and give us a chance to celebrate our wonderful neighborhood!
  • Support low-income homeowners with grants to make critical repairs to their homes. Our Affordable Home Repair Program helps our neighbors maintain safe, quality housing.
  • Keep our parks clean through our partnership with Lancaster County Food Hub’s Hand Up Partners Initiative. This project provides stipends to our homeless neighbors to clean Culliton and Brandon Parks, providing both critical support to neighbors and ensuring our parks are able to be enjoyed by SoWe families and households!

You can donate directly to SoWe on November 17th using this link.

SoWe Store Stories: 23 New Dorwart St., John Funk (1899)

This article is part of a series of posts from SoWe Volunteer Historian Jim Gerhart about the stories behind the stores on Old Cabbage Hill.

The origin of the corner store at 23 New Dorwart Street, which most people will remember as King’s Confectionery, begins with the building of a sewer. In the early 1880s, a small stream called the Run, which ran along what is now New Dorwart, was diverted into an arched brick sewer buried beneath the street. This opened the door for further building of houses along New Dorwart, and within a couple of decades, the street would be fully built out.

Before the sewer was installed, the empty lot on which 23 New Dorwart would be built was owned by Adam Finger. Finger was a wealthy, German-immigrant grocer and landlord who operated the grocery store at 568 Manor, and owned various other properties in the vicinity. In 1892, Finger sold a twenty-foot strip of his land between Lafayette and High to the city so that South Dorwart could be widened on its northeast side so that houses could be built (New Dorwart was named South Dorwart in its early years).

Finger sold his land along New Dorwart between Lafayette and High to the Home Building & Loan Association in 1894. The HBLA, a development company, built the row of twelve two-and-a-half-story houses on the northeast side of New Dorwart in the mid-1890s. The house at 23 New Dorwart was located on a lot with sixteen feet of frontage on New Dorwart, extending eighty-three feet along Lafayette. It had a store on its first floor and a residence on its second floor. There were six rooms, a bathroom, and a two-story frame back building. Later, two other houses would be built on the lot along Lafayette.

There was a storefront for the first-floor store, much of which remains today. The doorway to the store was canted at forty-five degrees to face the intersection. Facing New Dorwart, there was a large display window with transoms above it, which remains today. Separating the storefront from the residence above was a cornice that also remains. Old maps indicate that for most of the first half of the twentieth century, there was a wooden frame with an awning that extended on both sides of the entrance, overhanging the sidewalk in front of the store.

In 1899, the HBLA sold the house and store it had built on the corner of New Dorwart and Lafayette to John B. Funk for $1,375. Funk also ran a grocery store at 401 West Walnut that he called Model Cash Grocery. In 1899, he opened a new branch of his West Walnut grocery in the building he had just bought at 23 New Dorwart. Funk enlisted his twenty-five-year-old son, Clifford A. Funk, to run the new branch store. Clifford continued living at home on West Walnut while running the new branch of Model Cash Grocery at 23 New Dorwart.

In 1903, John Funk sold his branch store on New Dorwart to Jacob Kohr, who eighteen months later, sold it to John W. Wenger for $2,200. Wenger opened his own grocery in the store, and operated it until 1910, when he sold it to William P. Ostermayer for $2,800. Ostermayer moved his family into the second floor of the building and ran a grocery in the store for about five years. Ostermayer went bankrupt and in early 1916, the Union Trust Company purchased the store for $4,110.

The store was vacant for a couple of years, but then Union Trust Company leased it to Lena Ansel and her daughter Pearl, who opened L & PS Ansel Grocery in the store. Lena was the fifty-five-year-old wife of Lazarus Ansel, a clothier. Lazarus and Lena were both Russian immigrants who lived on Hebrank. The Ansels ran their grocery for a couple of years, but in 1922, the Union Trust Company sold the store to Walter D. King for $4,200.

Walter King, who had served in the Army in WWI, opened King’s Confectionery in the store. He later added a restaurant to the candy store. King’s would be in business for the next seventy years, and become a favorite in the close-knit Cabbage Hill community. King was twenty-six when he opened the store, and he operated it until his death forty years later. King and his family lived above the store, and then in the house facing Lafayette behind the store. After King’s death, his widowed third wife, Pauline, some twenty-five years younger than him, sold the store to Harry R. Martin for $18,000.

Martin, a WWII veteran who ran a similar store at 401 East King, would retain the name of King’s Confectionery for his store at 23 New Dorwart, and would own the store until his death in 1990. Martin covered the building’s brick with form-stone and rented the second floor to tenants. When Martin died, his wife Marion sold the store to BJ Properties, a property management company and landlord, for $70,000.

 In 1993, BJ Properties leased the store to three brothers—Jim, George, and Leo Bournelis—who opened a restaurant they named The Steak-Out, and later Steak Attack, which they ran in the store into the late 1990s.

Next, BJ Properties leased the store to LeGrant Williams, who opened Premier Cuts and Styling, a men’s barbershop. In 2002, Williams bought the store from BJ Properties. In 2016, Williams sold the store, and now two owners later, it remains a barbershop, but now it is known as Century 21 Cuts.

SoWe Store Stories: 705 High Street, Abraham Ansel’s Grocery (1923)

This article is part of a series of posts from SoWe Volunteer Historian Jim Gerhart about the stories behind the stores on Old Cabbage Hill.

Not every store on Cabbage Hill was owned by German immigrants. The brick house and store at 705 High Street was built by a Russian immigrant of the Jewish faith.

Abraham Ansel arrived in Lancaster in 1880 and took up residence in the Southeast Ward where he began working as a junk dealer. He and his first wife Rebecca soon entered the grocery business at the corner of Mercer and Locust Streets. In 1908, Rebecca died at the age of forty-three, leaving Abraham with their young son Myer.

Abraham remarried and he and his second wife Sarah had five children. Following a tragic accident in their house in which their two-year-old child lost his life, Abraham and Sarah moved from the Southeast Ward to the Southwest Ward, buying a house and store at the corner of High and Laurel Streets. He bought the house and store from Conrad Zimmerman, who had been running a grocery in the store.

The house was a two-story frame house and the store was a one-story frame building attached to the house. The house and store were on a large corner lot that ran all the way to Lafayette Street, and contained four other adjacent frame houses facing Laurel, and two larger brick houses facing Laurel at the intersection with Lafayette. The lot also contained the house and store at 705 and an adjacent house at 707, both facing High. Abraham rented out the other houses while living in 705 High and running the grocery store there.

The store must have been successful, because, ten years later, in 1923, he replaced the frame house with attached store with a three-story brick house and store. He also built four other connected two-story brick houses along High south of the corner store. Ansel and his family lived in 707 and ran the now larger grocery store on the first floor of 705. They rented out the upper floors of 705 as apartments. The buildings he built a hundred years ago in 1923 are the same ones present today.

Abraham Ansel retired from the grocery business in 1936, and lived the rest of his long life of ninety-eight years on Chestnut Street. When he retired in 1936, his son Walter and his wife Sarah took over the store at 705 High. Walter then bought the house and store at 705 from his father in 1946, and continued operating the grocery there for another forty years. In 1985, Ansel sold the house and store to Kyoo Shik and Young Im Cho, who reopened the store as the Y&C Grocery, a business that lasted about twenty-five years. The next and present owner, Yoangel Plata-Cabrera, took over in 2016 and continues to operate the store as the V&Y Mini Market 2.

The storefront that Ansel built in 1923 is still largely present. The cornice can be seen extending past both sides of the large modern canopy and signage, and the large display windows with transoms, although mostly covered now, can still be seen on either side of the canted doorway with its sidelights. The doorway sits five steps up from the sidewalk, and like many storefronts built after 1900, there are no bulkheads below the display windows.

SoWe Store Stories: 502 High St, Ernst Roehm’s grocery (1895)

This article is part of a series of posts from SoWe Volunteer Historian Jim Gerhart about the stories behind the stores on Old Cabbage Hill

Many people will remember 502 High as the Hi-Fi Café, and indeed that is what it was for some 20 years. But fewer people know that 502’s early days were spent as a grocery store, and like many stores on old Cabbage Hill, its builder and its early proprietors were German immigrants.

The building that stands today at 502 High was built over 125 years ago, but as old as it is, it was not the first 502 High on the site. The first 502 High also was a 2-story brick building, but its location on the northeastern edge of the lot proved problematic. The city had to remove the house in the fall of 1890 when the original 14-foot-wide Filbert Alley was widened to make East Filbert Street. After the widening, the lot that remained was only 14 feet, 7 inches wide along High.

In 1891, Ernst Roehm, who immigrated here in 1881, bought the then-empty lot from which the first 502 High had been removed. He also bought a 2-story brick building at 506 High, which is no longer there, and that’s where Roehm and his family moved, and where he opened a grocery store. After a few years, in 1895, Roehm built the house and store that became the second, and current, 502 High. He designed it as a long, necessarily narrow, house with a first-floor store, and he moved his family from 506 High into the upstairs of 502 High, and moved his grocery store into the first floor of his new building.

The store was built with its entrance canted at 45 degrees so that it faced the intersection rather than either of the two streets forming the intersection. Roehm eschewed the elaborate Victorian storefront features that had been popular for the previous several decades, settling instead on a more modest storefront with two display windows on either side of the entrance. Instead of heavy cornices over the two windows, he went with subtle arches in the brickwork.

Today, the old storefront looks different than it did originally. A small green roof has been placed over the door, the transom has been covered, the front door and display windows have been replaced, and concrete steps have been added.

Roehm did not stay long at 502 High, but it remained a grocery store under several different owners into the 1930s. The grocer who had the longest tenure in 502 High was Leo Huegel, who ran a grocery there for about 25 years. After Huegel’s grocery closed in the late 1930s, George and Marie Ziegler opened Ziegler’s Café in the first floor.

When the property changed hands in 1960, the Zieglers retired and the building’s new owner, Carl Bermel, opened the Hi-Fi Café there with his brother August. The Hi-Fi became a popular fixture on the Hill for the next 20 years. From 1967 to 1973, it was run by Erma Jaggers and was known as Erma’s Hi-Fi Café. When the Bermel family sold it in 1973, the new owner, Harry Martin, hired Charles Null to run the Hi-Fi, which he did until it closed in 1980. After it closed, the building and its first-floor store/café became a residence, which it has been over the past 40 years, under 8 different owners.

                                                                                                Jim Gerhart, April 2023

The Rise and Fall of Cabbage Hill’s Movie Theater

Jim Gerhart, March 2020

Movies, or moving pictures as they were first known, were invented in the 1890s. Within ten years, theaters devoted to showing movies began to proliferate. The first four large movie theaters in Lancaster were built between 1911 and 1914. They were the Colonial, Hippodrome, and Grand on North Queen Street, and the Kuhn on Manor Street. The three downtown theaters were more opulent and charged higher prices than the Kuhn, which was established to serve the working-class southwest Lancaster neighborhood.

The Kuhn Theatre, also sometimes known as Kuhn’s Theatre, opened in March 1911. Adam Kuhn was a German immigrant who attended St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and who for many years, ran a successful bakery on East Chestnut Street. After much of his bakery was destroyed in a fire, he decided to retire from the baking business and venture into the new movie-theater business. He sold the damaged bakery in September 1910 and a month later he used the proceeds to buy a large lot in the 600 block of Manor Street for $1,950 (the lot was actually purchased in the name of Mary, his wife). On that lot, Kuhn built the Kuhn Theatre, which would eventually become the Strand Theatre and continue showing movies until 1962.

The Kuhn was located at 605-609 Manor on a large lot that extended to Reiker Avenue, and it stood nearly alone on that part of the block when it was first built. The brick theater had 40 feet of frontage on Manor, widening to 70 feet where the screen and stage were at the rear of the building. The building was 205 feet long, with a two-and-a-half-story brick house attached to the rear of the theater, in which the Kuhn family lived. The original theater, which could seat 400 people, was heated by steam and had both gas and electric lights. (The former site of the now demolished theater is a parking lot next to B&M Sunshine Laundry.)

Adam Kuhn’s new career in the movie-theater business did not last very long. He died in the fall of 1912. Edward J. Kuhn, Adam’s son, took over ownership of the theater. Like most movie theaters in the early days, it not only offered movies, but also offered other types of entertainment such as vaudeville acts and band music. Kuhn also rented out the theater for use by others; one example was the Salvation Army for evangelistic services in 1914.

The movies shown at the Kuhn were quite primitive, black-and-white, silent movies that featured exaggerated acting and were usually about 15-45 minutes long. Each movie consisted of one to three reels of film; if there was more than one reel, the projectionist had to rewind and change the reels while the audience waited. The movies were accompanied by live piano music. Kuhn charged a nickel for most movies, and a dime for special events.

Edward Kuhn operated the theater through 1913, but in early 1914, he put the theater up for sale at auction. The advertisement for the public sale, held in the theater in February 1914, noted that the theater had been “a good money maker”. The highest bid was $15,000, but that was less than Kuhn thought it was worth, so the theater was withdrawn from sale. Kuhn tried again two weeks later, but again the theater was withdrawn from sale. Six months later, in August 1914, the theater was seized and sold to cover Kuhn’s debts. The Northern Trust Company bought the theater for $7,300. A couple months later, in October 1914, the Northern Trust Company sold it to two theater operators from Philadelphia for $8,300.

The two new owners, Peter Oletzky and Michael Lessy, changed the name of the theater to the Lancaster Theatre, and continued to offer movies and other forms of entertainment while remodeling the theater and increasing the seating capacity to about 900. By January 1916, a new theater manager had been brought on from Philadelphia. While movies were still the theater’s mainstay, other large events were held to augment the theater’s income. One such event was an April 1916 show put on by the Eighth Ward Minstrels accompanied by the St. Joseph’s Church orchestra and choir that attracted more than 1,000 people.

A big change in the program of the Lancaster Theatre was the addition of boxing matches. A boxing ring was set up on the stage for these events, and well-known local and regional boxers would stage matches that attracted packed houses. One example was a bout between Cabbage Hill’s own Leo Houck and Dummy Ketchell of Baltimore.

The Lancaster Theatre got another new manager in October 1916, and he announced a new policy of “musical comedy playlets of the higher class and unexcelled photoplays”. The opening act under this new policy was Rowe and Kusel’s Big Girlie Musical Review, an act that may have indeed been a change for the family-oriented audiences of the Hill. Prices were 5, 10, or 15 cents, depending on the seats. On the downside, because of competition from other attractions in the summer months, the Lancaster Theatre closed down for the entire summer in 1917.

By the spring of 1919, the theater had changed hands again, and was doing business under the name of the Manor Theatre. Movies and boxing matches continued to be the two main draws. Movies had become much more sophisticated in the eight years since the theater had opened. They were still silent, but they had become longer, with more natural performances, and instead of anonymous actors, they now had recognizable stars who drew people to their movies. They also were now being made in Hollywood, California, instead of New York and New Jersey.

Other attractions drew crowds as well, such as a 7-foot eel caught by George Schaller, a neighborhood cigarmaker, in January 1920. Schaller put the eel in his backyard to freeze it solid, and then put it on display in the Manor Theatre. However, a monster eel was apparently not enough to meet the Manor’s profit expectations, and the theater was sold again in the spring of 1920, this time to George Bennethum of Philadelphia for $15,000. He remodeled the theater, updated its projection equipment, and changed the name of the theater to the Strand, a name it would keep until it closed 40 years later. Movies were still the staple, but boxing and other events also were staged. For instance, in the winter of 1921-22, the Duquesne Boxing Club leased the theater for its winter season of matches.

In 1928, the Strand Theatre was sold to Harry Chertkoff, a Latvian immigrant who would own it until he died in 1960. Chertkoff went on to own numerous other theaters in Lancaster County, including the King Theater and the Sky-Vue and Comet drive-ins. His first infrastructure improvement at the Strand was to outfit it for sound to accommodate the industry’s switch to movies with soundtracks. Chertkoff also made major renovations to the Strand in 1933 with the addition of improved acoustics and speakers, and again in 1939 with air conditioning and new seats. He also continued the practice of keeping prices as low as possible. In 1948, when Lancaster City instituted a 10% amusement tax, Chertkoff upped his prices to a still modest 37 cents for adults and 15 cents for children.

After Chertkoff’s death in 1960, his son-in-law Morton Brodsky took over his business interests. The Strand had been losing money for several years, probably related at least partly to the rising popularity of television. In 1962, the theater stopped showing movies, and Brodsky decided to sell the property. While searching for someone to buy the lot and building, Brodsky proceeded to sell the seats, projection equipment, and screen. When the theater building didn’t sell, he decided to just tear it down, and in November 1964, the Strand was demolished. Brodsky stated that he was exploring several options for the site, but in the short term it would be graded and used for parking, which turned out to be the long-term plan as well, as the site is still a parking lot today.

The Kuhn/Lancaster/Manor/Strand Theatre was Lancaster’s only neighborhood theater; all the others were downtown. It was the entertainment center of the Hill, providing movies and other amusements at reasonable prices to Hill residents for more than 50 years. Many a child had his or her early movie experience in the theater, including yours truly in the early 1960s. The 1964 demolition of the last incarnation of the theater, the Strand, not only left a physical gap in the 600 block of Manor, but also a gap in the social and cultural environment on the Hill.

Lancaster City’s Love Your Block Grant!

Applications are now open for Lancaster City’s Love Your Block, Park Adoption Mini-Grants, and the Neighborhood Leaders Academy!

Want to clean up your stretch of road? Have a project idea on how to fix a local issue? Love Your Block provides funds of $500-$2000 for community-led projects addressing issues surround litter, urban blight, and façade improvements. The projects must affect the whole block and require a coalition of at least 5 neighbors from 3 different households. Americorps VISTAS, Renee and Christian, will assist with project management, scheduling, budgeting and implementation, so don’t worry about needing experience. Find more information about Love Your Block, along with an online application here.

Additionally, Lancaster has a Park Adoption grant that also provides $500-$2000 for projects improving and expanding the usability of local parks or green spaces. Find more information about Park Adoption, along with an online application here.

Applications for both grants are due by March 20, 2020. They can be submitted online or, physical versions can be mailed to City Hall at 120 N. Duke Street, Lancaster, PA.

The Neighborhood Leaders Academy is open for applications as well! The program is a six-month training and grant program for community leaders to imagine, develop, test and realize projects that build community and provide positive outcomes. The program will empower leaders in all Lancaster neighborhoods to encourage one another, identify problems, plan projects to beautify the neighborhood and remedy issues, and celebrate the community and each other. Applications are due March 27th, 2020. For more information click here.

If you have any questions or need any assistance, please reach out to Christian at or 717-869-2140 or Renee at or 717-869-2144.

The Largest Celebration in the History of Cabbage Hill

Jim Gerhart

August 1, 2019

The greatest expression of civic pride ever to take place on Cabbage Hill in the Eighth Ward of Lancaster occurred on June 15-16, 1923. On the evenings of those two days, a huge festival drew close to 10,000 people to Manor Street to celebrate the long-awaited completion of the paving of the street. More than $6,000 (about $84,000 in today’s dollars) was raised to benefit Rodney Park, a new city park on a triangle of land between Third, Rodney, and Crystal Streets.

The surface of Manor Street had been in terrible condition for many years. Finally, in early August 1922, work crews began the process of excavating the street so it could be paved with concrete. The city’s contractor, Swanger-Fackler Construction Company of Lebanon, was responsible for the overall project and the paving of most of the street, and Conestoga Traction Company was responsible for moving the trolley tracks from the edge of the street to the middle, and paving the street around the trolley tracks. The work proceeded slowly, as the crews ran into several unexpected complications as they excavated 150 years’ worth of old street surfaces.

When cold weather set in during the late fall and concrete could no longer be poured, work was halted for the winter, leaving some sections of the street torn up and virtually impassable. Fortunately, by the first week of April in the spring of 1923, the weather was good enough for the crews to get back to work. Progress was steady throughout April and May, and by late May the residents of the Eighth Ward were hopeful that the work would finally be completed by mid-June.

The Eighth Ward Community Association met on May 25, May 31, and June 7 to develop plans for a festival to celebrate the opening of the newly paved Manor Street. The festival was scheduled for June 15-16, 1923, and the Association decided to dedicate the proceeds of the festival to outfitting Rodney Park—acquired by the city just two months earlier—with playground equipment and a surrounding sidewalk for roller-skating.

Advertisement for festival in Examiner & New Era, June 15, 1923

In late May, the Association canvassed door to door in the Eighth Ward to gauge the level of interest and ask for donations to support the festival. The canvassing generated much enthusiasm and many donations; in fact, the level of interest was so high that the Association decided to expand the scope of the event from just a Manor Street opening  to “A Cabbage Hill Celebration and Festival”. One of the leaders of the Association said that “this is the first time in the history of the city that such a celebration has been held” and that “it is for all the people”.

To plan the festival, twenty-six committees were established, with each committee having a chairman and three to five other men as members. The women had their own committees, most of which corresponded in topic with the men’s committees, and the two sets of committees worked together to prepare for the festival. Committee chairs were selected for their expertise in the area of the committee’s topic. For example, Christ Kunzler of Kunzler’s Meat Market was the chair of the Hot Frankfurter committee, and Leo Houck of boxing fame was the chair of the Sports committee.

The committees included: Program, Publicity, Music, Decorations, Amusement, Sports, Dancing, Candy, Prizes, Hot Frankfurters, Soft Drinks, Popcorn, Flowers, Ice Cream, Fruit, Truck, Ice, Printing, Cigars, Equipment, Lumber/Chairs/Tables, Public safety, Tags, Cakes, Novelties, and Fancy Work. Probably to many people’s chagrin, there was no Beer committee—at least not officially—because the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) had gone into effect a few years earlier.

Advertisement for festival in Intelligence Journal, June 15, 1923

In the days leading up to the festival, several items were donated to be used as prizes. Congressman William Griest donated a new Ruud water heater that was put on display in the window of Louis Fellman’s hardware store (568 Manor Street) to help ratchet up interest. The Conestoga Traction Company donated a new Clark Jewel gas range, which was also displayed at Fellman’s store. The Friends of the Eighth Ward Community Association donated a $550 mahogany bedroom suite that was displayed at Hoffmeier’s furniture store on East King Street near the square.

Cash donations also were made. Christ Kunzler took up a collection of $87 at an Elks Club dinner held the week before the festival, and he also paid for the first hour of music by a band at the festival. Hamilton Watch Factory and Armstrong Linoleum Company each gave $50, as did the Fraim-Slaymaker Lock Company. The Select Council also presented a cash donation. In addition, the Intelligencer Journal and the Examiner-New Era newspapers would supply Rodney Park with a drinking fountain and a flagpole.

To the relief of all the committees, the paving of Manor Street was completed on time, and by the afternoon of Friday, June 15, the final preparations for the festival were underway. Two large banners were strung across the street at the ends of Manor Street—one at the crest of the hill near West King Street and one near South West End Avenue. American flags and bunting were displayed along the street and on many of the houses (Flag Day was the previous day), and colored electric lights were strung along and across Manor Street from West King Street to Fairview Avenue. Dozens of booths that had been built by the residents and decorated with flowers lined the street on both sides.

It was partly cloudy and about 80 degrees when the festival kicked off at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening. At that time, the leaders of the Eighth Ward Community Association, the American Legion Band, and some 500 school children of the Eighth Ward departed in a parade from the intersection of Manor and Dorwart Streets. They marched to City Hall, where they met Mayor Frank Musser and other city officials and escorted them back in the parade to the intersection of Manor and West King Streets, where a fence barrier had been erected across Manor Street.

At the barrier, the mayor was presented with a new axe, and with one stroke he broke through the ceremonial barrier, officially opening the newly paved street.  Immediately after the barrier was broken, a chorus of children sang a welcoming song, and a switch was flipped, lighting all the colored electric lights along the street. The Star Spangled Banner was played, followed by a short speech by the mayor. At the end of the ceremony, the whole group of officials, school children, and the American Legion Band paraded the length of Manor Street to great cheering. The festival was officially underway.

Photo of the ceremonial breaking of a barrier to open the newly paver Manor Street on June 15, 1923. The barrier is in front of 412-414 Manor St. Mayor Frank Musser stands in front of the barrier to the left. The banner reads, “Welcome to the Manor Street Opening, Friday & Saturday, June 15 & 16, A Cabbage Hill Celebration and Festival”.

For the festival, Manor Street was divided into three segments, each with a distinct focus—dancing, boxing, and amusements. Four bands, including the American Legion Band, the Iroquois Band, and the City Band, participated over the two nights, and each one was stationed at a different segment. The segments were linked together by the strings of colored lights that extended along the entire stretch of the street, and by 33 booths that lined the streets between the segments, offering the Eighth Ward’s best food, drinks, clothing, novelties, and hand-made items for sale.

The block of Manor Street between Laurel Street and Fairview Avenue was set aside for street dancing, with the music supplied by the American Legion Band. Rousing Roaring Twenties music was no doubt on the program, and the young people of the Eighth Ward danced until the festival closed each night. At one point during the dancing, the lights briefly went out, and the newspaper slyly reported that this unexpected feature was much appreciated by the young revelers.

The intersection of Manor and Dorwart Streets was designated for exhibition boxing matches, and a ring was set up in the street. Each night, there were five, three-round exhibition matches arranged by Leo Houck, the Eighth Ward’s own boxing hero. One match was for the championship of the Fraim-Slaymaker Lock Company (Young Biddy vs. Willie Bloom) and another was for the 125-pound title of Manor Street (Battling Fuzzy vs. Kid Carney). The final, much anticipated match was Leo Houck, who had fought many of the world’s best boxers in the previous two decades, facing off against his long-time sparring partner, Jule Ritchie. Unfortunately, Ritchie was late and the feature bout had to be replaced with a quickly arranged one between two different boxers.

The intersection of Manor and Third Streets was set up for amusements. Eddie Fisher, a well-known local clown, was in charge of the program at this location. Each night, the YMCA provided a gymnastics and stunts exhibition, and Fisher and a troupe of clowns performed. A little farther down the hill, the Strand Theater in the 600 block of Manor Street provided a free showing of a silent movie, and Brinkman’s Metropolitan Four sang a selection of songs. On Saturday night the Strand hosted a public wedding of a couple from Columbia, officiated by a pastor from Marietta.

An unusual feature of the festival that must have served as a good ice breaker was the Miss Rodney Park contest. Each evening, in three different hour-long time slots, a secretly selected young woman was designated as Miss Rodney Park for that hour. She went out among the crowd incognito and the first person who approached her with “You are Miss Rodney Park”, would be the prize winner for that hour. No doubt many young women were approached by many young men, but Miss Rodney Park was only correctly identified three times.

By the time midnight rolled around on Saturday night and the festival was over, it was clear to everyone that it had been a much bigger success than anyone had imagined. The crowds had been huge (almost 10,000 over two nights), the booths were almost completely sold out of their merchandise, and every featured event on the program had been a big hit. Over the next couple of days, as cleanup took place, the Eighth Ward Community Association counted up the proceeds and decided on the distribution of prizes, which were then awarded on Tuesday night, June 19, at Fellman’s hardware store. The amount of money raised exceeded $6,000, and on the night of June 20, again at Fellman’s store, the Community Association met with the City Parks Committee to discuss how to best use the money for Rodney Park.

The Eighth Ward had done itself proud. For two nights, the residents had channeled their abundant civic pride into accomplishing the largest festival ever seen on Cabbage Hill. The people of other parts of Lancaster who had joined in the festivities left with “a lot of respect for the manner in which the Eighth Ward does things”, as one of the newspaper articles put it. It was hoped that the paving of the street and the successful festival might end the long held opinion that Cabbage Hill was not treated like a fully accepted part of the city. In fact, one of the newspaper articles stated that the reconstruction of the street was “the first thing worth while the Hill has ever gotten from a city administration”. At least for two nights, on June 15-16, 1923, Cabbage Hill had finally gotten its due.

The City of Lancaster and SoWe are committed to promoting the same kind of neighborhood pride that made the 1923 celebration such a success. The city has installed pedestrian-style streetlights along Manor Street and part of West King Street, and has started the process of planting trees along the street as well. And SoWe, with its many partners, is working on numerous initiatives to build neighborhood pride, including a cost-sharing program to improve building façades on Manor Street, especially those that once had storefronts. It is hoped that all these efforts will help rekindle some of the proud neighborhood spirit of the past.