York’s Dempwolf architects didn’t just stick to York County
It all started with a small piece in the June 28, 1887 York Gazette that read:
A YORK ARCHITECT IN FREDERICK
The Frederick City Daily News says: “Mr. J. A. Dempwolf, of York Pa., the architect, arrived in Frederick, Monday evening with the remainer of the plans for the new building for the Old Mutual Insurance Company, N. Market street. Mr. Dempwolf’s plans are now completed and he has left word with Mr. Frazier as to just how to proceed with the erection of the building. Work will be commenced in a few days, it is thought. Mr. Dempwolf departed for York, Tuesday.”
I knew there were several Frederick, Md. building plans included in the wonderful collection of Dempwolf Architectural Drawings at York County Heritage Trust, and that images of them are now online on the YCHT website. There are three sheets for this building: one showing elevations for all four sides, one of plans of the foundations and all four floors and one of details of structural iron work.
A Google search for Mutual Insurance Company, North Market Street and Frederick turned up a historic sites survey form for 112-114 North Market Street. Google street view shows a somewhat later building at that address (now occupied by Yaneth Reyes Jewelry Design) with Mutual Insurance Company on the façade, and it doesn’t match the Dempwolf drawings. The historic sites survey form also indicates that the building it describes was built after 1900.
Remembering numerous Dempwolf-looking buildings in downtown Frederick, and hoping that the insurance company had just moved instead of tearing down the sturdy building, I Goggled myself down the street. In the preceding block, I found a restaurant, Isabella’s Taverna & Tapis Bar, at 44 North Market Street, unmistakably the 1887 Dempwolf building.
On an historical day trip to Frederick a few years ago, I had a nice lunch at the restaurant, wondering if it might be a Dempwolf building. Now I’ll have to go back, for the architecture as well as the food.
The Mutual Insurance Company, now Frederick Mutual Insurance and tracing their origins back to 1843, is still in business. They now occupy a larger and newer structure just north of Frederick off US 15, which would be their fourth building at least.
The historical moral of this story is to not assume that a business, or a family, stayed on the same site for decades. We more around, and so did our predecessors. Sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper.