Universal York

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Half of the landmarks that replaced these York landmarks are also gone.

Thomas Hartley house by Lewis Miller
Thomas Hartley house by Lewis Miller

We are not the only generation to denounce the destruction of landmarks once they are gone. Half a dozen recently demolished homes are listed in the April 17, 1866 York Gazette. I have transcribed and annotated the article to give an idea of what is now on those sites.

OLD LANDMARKS GONE.—The old white house on East Market Street, in the rear of which the new German Reformed Church has recently been built, was taken down last week. The house was built upwards of one hundred years ago, was occupied during the Revolutionary War by the Hon. Thos. Hartley, who subsequently, for many years, represented York County in Congress. During the revolution and whilst the American Congress sat in this place, this house was the headquarters of Gen. Washington, in his official visits to York. In later years it was for a long time occupied as the Post Office and afterwards was uses for various occupations.

[Colonel Thomas Hartley took an active part in the Revolutionary War and was the first U.S. Congressman from York County (including present-day Adams County) under the U.S. Constitution. The “new” German Reformed Church built in back of the Hartley residence still stands. It is now Trinity United Church of Christ, and the Hartley home site is the church lawn with the stone cross fountain.]

The old buildings formerly belonging to the Frey estate, on the South East corner of Market and Duke Streets, were also recently taken down to give place to a new private residence, now being erected by Mr. John H. Small.

[John Small’s residence must have been replaced at some time, as the present building on this site is somewhat newer. It still has “Guardian Trust Company” above the door, but now houses the Barley Snyder law firm.]

The old house, a few doors east of the Frey corner, adjoining the residence of Judge Fisher, and lately occupied by Mr. Thomas Holland as a tobacco factory, has also been removed, and a new private dwelling is to be erected in its place for Mr. William Smith, (Druggist).

[Smith’s dwelling is probably gone too. I think this refers to the site occupied by the 20th century former AAA building.]

The old white house on the lot adjoining the Presbyterian burying ground on East Market Street has also been removed, and workmen are engaged in erecting in its place, a private residence for Mr. Chas. Billmeyer.

[The imposing Billmeyer house still stands, restored by First Presbyterian Church, even though it was threatened with demolition in the 1970s.]

The old wooden house formerly belonging to the Jones estate on North George Street, a few doors north of the corner of Philadelphia Street, has also been removed by Alex. J. Frey., Esq., who intends to erect in its place a private dwelling house.

[Jones is shown on the east side of George Street on the 1850 Sidney/Moody York map. There is a patch of lawn presently on the site, but no buildings.]

The two story brick house and back buildings, recently occupied by Mr. David E. Small, on the north side of East Market Street, and a few doors west of the Presbyterian Church, are also soon to be taken down, to give room for a private residence for that gentleman.

[David E. Small’s brownstone mansion is now incorporated into Martin Memorial Library.]

A century and a half later, three of the six “new” buildings in the article are still there, although just the front façade and possibly the west wall are probably all that remains of the original D.E. Small house. We can regret the loss of the other three 1866 buildings, which might have been equally architecturally significant. But we can also be grateful for the ones that remain and keep on advocating the preservation of our historical architecture whenever we can.