York’s City Market House Was Built with Cathedral-like Beams
Trusses and hammer beams supporting City Market roof.
My recent post chronicled the relatively short life (84 years) of York’s grand City Market House. I followed that up a few days later by posting photos of the imposing exterior.
Several photos also survive of the interior of the City Market House. These photos, some of which are shown here, are now in the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives. Some were taken by a local professional photographer, Paul Galbreath, and others by Gazette and Daily staff photographers.. They show that the interior was built with as much care and was as impressive as the exterior.
City Market structual braces and balcony.
In 1962, F[rederick] G. Dempwolf signed a typed description of City Market House, which would be torn down at the end of the next year. In it he gives some detail (see below) on the trusses and beams. He refers to a drawing of the trusses, probably the one below drawn by his associate, C. William Dize.
F. G. Dempwolf was the son of J. A. Dempwolf, architect of City Market House, and he carried on the Dempwolf architectural firm many years after his father and his uncle, Reinhart Dempwolf, were gone.
Drawing by C.W. Dize described below by F.G. Dempwolf
Frederick Dempwolf’s 1962 description, the original of which is in the archives of York County Heritage Trust, reads in part:
The interior is a remarkable piece of wooden construction and the truss work in the roof is a beautiful example of engineering skill. The diagrams of the trusses were published in Kidders Hand book in the 1880s and Mr. [J. A.] Dempwolf received many laudatory comments from architects and engineers from all over the country regarding it.
The members of the trusses as well as the 12″ x 12″ posts supporting some of the truss work were made out of Georgia long leaf pine. The shapes of the trusses are known as Hammer beam trusses, and are Gothic in style….
The Hammer beam trusses in the east and west winds are true Gothic style as mentioned above. The trusses in the north and south wings are a modified version of the truss. This was brought about by the quasi-Mansard roof on these two wings. The enclosed diagrams of the truss work and floor plans explains the location of the trusses.
On a bright sunny day the sunshine passing the upper windows makes a beautiful light, diffused by the motes in the upper air.
[Signed] F. G. Dempwolf.
Lights from high windows and market stands
According to another description in a previous post, the interior roof, probably including the beams and trusses, was oiled and the chamfers (bevels on the edges of the timbers) painted “Indian red.” The interior brick walls of the market were also painted, probably white, which would have beautifully set off the timbers.