Only in York County

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Ask Joan: Going to Philadelphia edition

More travels are in store for our family this week – as part of Sarah’s early 13th birthday present, we’re going to the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s museum in Philadelphia. (Yes, really – that’s a huge interest of Sarah’s!)

Pray or cross your fingers for good weather!

What’s inside

1. More details on river house
2. and 3. Memories of York Narrow, Coastal Tank, United Dye

1. Late last summer, we talked briefly about a large house overlooking the Susquehanna River, visible from Marietta and nearby points.

I heard from a few people with details on it. As I mentioned before, this is a private home, so while it’s notable thanks to its visibility, I’m specifically asking you please NOT to go try to get an up-close look!

Michael Laucks writes, “I believe the mansion is ‘Roundtop,’ once owned by the Phillip Geiselman Loucks family. If the photo is Roundtop, it was originally built by a Lancaster County businessman who could only approach it by boat from the Lancaster County shore. A daughter of Mr. Loucks, Dr. June Loucks Evans, who is the mother of the famous artist Rob Evans, resides near Wrightsville, as does her son. Dr. Evans is an archaeologist who lectures frequently on York and Lancaster County historical matters. She and her son are also active in the Lancaster-York Heritage Region, headquartered at the Zimmerman mansion on Long Level Road near Wrightsville.”

A man named Joe Fauth wrote to me on behalf of his grandfather, Nelson Gromling. He said he was “writing for my grandpa who insists that I tell you that the picture … is a place he remembers well, Round Top that sits above Accomac. He remembers vividly playing there in the area as a child of 8 or 9 since his home (where 19 children) were raised was just below that.”

And finally, I heard from Gordon Freireich, a fellow fan of all things York, who shared, “A former owner of Roundtop, who does not wish to be identified, asked me to send these newspaper clippings to you in response to your column and to answer some of the questions you raised.”

I’m sharing those clips here; you can click on any image to enlarge it in a new window or tab!

2. We have talked a BUNCH about some of the former businesses on Grantley Road, including in the same column we talked about the river house!

Since then, I have heard from several more readers. Sandy Brown shared these photos of a sign from the former York Narrow Fabrics on Grantley Road that she has in her home. She found the sign in a West York-area antique store. “I am an avid sewer/quilter/teacher and am drawn to anything related,” she wrote. “I was so surprised to read your column related to something that I enjoy every day.”

Sandy, thanks for sharing that!

Scott Buchart wrote, “York Narrow Fabrics is now the Kinsley Engineering Center. Carlton Stauffer owned York Narrow. Coastal Tank Lines was owned by a man named Moul. I believe it was sometime in the late 1970s or early ’80s that he sold it to Matlack, another tanker company which was absorbed by someone else – I’m guessing it was Bulkmatic, but that is only a guess. Ziebart Rustproofing was in the same area. It was a booming business until auto manufacturers began rustproofing their own vehicles.”

Back to York Narrow Fabrics, Betsy Baird wrote, “I remember that the Betsy Ross School on Pattison St. had, in back on it, the National Biscuit Co. Seems to me that was burned out. And, all I really remember of the York Narrow Fabrics was, Scott Buchart is correct, it was owned by Carlton H. Stauffer. His son, Carlton Hoff “Hoffy” Stauffer Jr. worked with his dad. But I don’t remember how long after college. He & I were in the same grade.” She added about some other businesses in the area, “I just remembered a major business on Grantley Road, Weaver’s Meat Market, where the pizza place now stands (if it is still that). They had some of the best meat you could find. They and Sechrist’s Colonial Food Market on S. George St. If you were looking for a really good cut of fresh meat, you headed to one on those two stores. Plus they had foods of other good quality.”

Other memories came from Marion Trimmer, who writes, “Thanks for all the data about York Narrow Fabrics and Coastal Tank Lines. McKay Chain is another company no longer in existence on Grantley Road. I worked there during WWII. When the war ended the office staff was notified our jobs were being transferred to the main plant in McKees Rock, Pa. The plant continued to operate for many years. Now there is a big sign outside the office building reading “York College Campus.” Apparently York College bought out that whole area. They built a big stadium in back of the plant area a couple of years ago.”

From Marty Jacobs, I heard, “About 20 years ago I painted for a gentleman who was in his early 80s. He told me that Henry Ford was going to be in the plant that now houses Johnson Controls on Grantley Road. Yes a Ford Motor Co. division for York. He said it was all but a done deal but the local chamber of commerce blocked it with the help of the company who controlled the railroad that was next to the building. Since Ford was paying his workers well ($5.00 a day) the local businessmen who were on the chamber of commerce feared they would lose a lot of their workers so they had the railroad deny a siding to the proposed Ford plant that would enable the autos to be properly loaded on to the train cars. I would like to know if any of your readers have any additional input to this story. I am sure that the gentleman was not spinning some yarn when he told me about the story. This incident in time would have partially coincided with the auto industry heyday of York (circa early 1900s to late 1920s). My name is Marty Jacobs and I am a retired American History/Civics teacher from Northeastern. I tried to incorporate as much local history into my lessons as possible despite some administrators who disliked that idea. I really appreciate your attention to this especially with the possible move of Johnson Controls.”

I would LOVE to hear more on that story, so please do share if you are familiar! (And Marty, thanks for being willing to share local history!)

Lisa Strine said she’d love to see pictures of the old Grantley school on Grantley Road and of Weaver’s, which Betsy had mentioned, so if you have any of those to share, please do. Lisa said she grew up on Jackson Street in the ’60s.

And going back to Coastal Tank Lines, I heard from Cynthia Garry, who writes, “You recently wrote about Coastal Tank Lines. I am the daughter of the founder and President, Harold Moul.” Cynthia connected with some of the people who previously shared memories and who’d worked for her father, which I thought was awesome! She added one really interesting historical detail: “It may be interesting for you to note that my father met with the original Jimmy Hoffa for days on end but Hoffa was never successful in breaking down my father; hence, the Teamster’s Union was unable to create a stronghold at that time.”

3. So, speaking of more Grantley businesses, there was also United Dye.

Of that business, Gary Lauer shared this newspaper clipping after a fire at United Piece Dye Works on Grantley Road in the 1970s.

He noted, “Joan, this is one of the last fires to occur at this building, weakening it to the point that it was finally torn down. All that remained after this was a large concrete area that was the original foundation, the three dye settling ponds, and the main water pond. In the background, (looking East) is an assist unit from Springettsbury and the garage/warehouse of the York Water Co.”

Gary continued, “The property was leveled and under the watchful eye of DEP the dye basins were filled in with the construction waste and local fill ground waste from various projects. These basins were originally filled with process water from the operation. The ponds were covered with Styrofoam and the water was allowed to leach back into Mill creek, leaving behind the dye color and harmful elements. This all had to be removed as DEP lead the cleanup project. This never deterred the youth that claimed this area as their playground, and the residents who wanted to take a walk in nature.”

“This property was the United Piece Dye Company as long as I can remember hearing of it. The company closed in 1959 as I was told, so the main portion of the building sat vacant. There were several attempts by Mr Fire to rent out the warehouse portion of the property, but those all failed. There was a large holding pond on the property to provide the necessary amount of water for the process, that provided excellent fishing for those interested, but alas, it also became the magnet that drew the uncontrolled city youth to the area and they began the cycle of destruction that caused the property to be uninhabitable to renters.”

Finally, Gary concludes, “Several years ago a speculator came to town and was going to build a large hotel, convention center and a shopping center on the property. Unfortunately this was just a dream of a person with big ideas and no money. He succeeded in obtaining the property, but that is as far as it got. There are a myriad of items to deal with, such as the extremely high power, transmission electric lines traversing the property, checking that the clean-up was done properly, and the road access to the property. So the project was doomed to fail. Spring Garden Township took possession of the land and that is when the large fence along Mt Rose Ave was installed in an attempt to maintain some type of security. They still are planning on a Township facility complex and recreation areas at last check.”

Gary, MANY thanks for those details!

I also heard from Joyce McMaster Moul, who shared this photo and pay stub from United Dye Works.

Joyce writes, “I am enclosing a picture that I believe to be my paternal grandmother, Lilly M. McMaster Kidd (nee Rudisille) standing outside of United Piece Dye Works (possibly Nina Dye at that time). My late father, Vernon McMaster, retired from there in 1983 as finishing room foreman after 36 years. I am also enclosing his pay stub from 1955. The business went from Nina Dye Works to United Piece Dye Works and then, sometime before my dad retired, moved to Mechanicsburg and became Chloe Enterprises.”

A neat story came from Richard “Dick” Wilson, who writes, “In 1948 I went off to school in New Haven. A few weeks after arriving a girl said to me, ‘I understand you’re from York, PA.’ (She was from New York City.) I told her I am. She then told me that she has been in York many times because her father owns a plant in York, one of many, his name was Goldburg. He named all his plants after his children and the facility in York he named after his daughter … thus the Nena Dye Works. I believe that that this was the facility that later became United Dye.” I’m not sure about the spelling of Nena vs. Nina, but I am sure that’s the place, Dick!

And finally, Joyce M. Rode of Mount Wolf writes, “I don’t have a photo of United Dye, but other info if Richard is interested. My first job was there after high school graduation in 1952. I think we called it Nina Dyeworks at the time. I know it’s the same place. Living in Mt. Wolf, I rode the York bus to the square – walked to the post office on S. George St. where a station wagon picked us up (5 girls) and took us to Mt. Rose Ave. We had to pack a lunch every day because there were no restaurants, K-mart or I-83 at the time. When we arrived there we walked through a small shed to punch a time clock. Then we walked a long way to an old red brick building. My office job was using an adding machine – not electric. I also took orders on the phone from Burlington Mills in New York. I met a lot of nice people working there. About every 6 months we could pick out material to make a dress or something. After work we were dropped off at the post office. My salary was $30 weekly – take home pay $27. There wasn’t too much left after bus fare and $5 weekly board. Those were the good old days, my friend. I thought they would never end. Actually I only worked there about 9 months. Then I moved to Maryland to live with my husband who was in the Navy. I know York Water Co. is in the vicinity and also a day care for children was there in the early 1990s, when I picked up my granddaughter.” That location doesn’t seem to match up with where I’m thinking of for United Dye, but is it possible Nina Dyeworks moved at some point before becoming United?

Got any questions? Ask Joan using the form at right. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future “Ask Joan” column on this blog. I get a large volume, but I will feature three each week and answer as many as possible!

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