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Dallastown Furniture Factory was WWI Army supplier

Then & Now photos of Dallastown Furniture Factory (ca. 1920 photo from York County History Center; arrangement by S. H. Smith, 2017)

“Then & Now” photos show the buildings originally built in 1911 as the Dallastown Furniture Factory in Dallastown, York County, PA. The Dallastown Furniture Company produced driver seats for WWI army wagons within these buildings.

The “Then” photo is circa 1920; at that time, the factory could be located as being on the northeast corner of North Park Street and the Ma & Pa Railroad 1.2-mile branch into Dallastown. The boxcar sits on the furniture factory rail siding.

The railroad tracks were removed years ago. “Now” the former furniture factory buildings can be located via the northeast corner of North Park Street and East Locust Street in Dallastown.

The April 2, 1918 issue of The York Daily reported: “The Dallastown Furniture Company today received specification and prints covering contracts for fifteen hundred driver seats for army wagons. These specifications and prints were received from the war service committee. Just as soon as the material is received work will be started on this large contract.”

History of the Dallastown Furniture Factory

The charter for the Dallastown Furniture Company was issued on January 31, 1911; “For the purpose of manufacturing and selling all kinds and descriptions of household and office furniture and all other articles of a cognate character, from wood and metal or from either wood or metal.” Alvin F. Fix was the founding company president.

Charles Williams, of Jacobus, was selected as architect and superintendent for the construction of the new factory on a lot purchased at the northeast corner of North Park Street and the Ma & Pa Railroad in Dallastown. Godfred Druck, J. H. Myers and Allen Bupp served on the building committee. Fravel Seitz, J. C. Heckert, Charles Kohler and L. Tarbet were the members of the equipment committee; selecting the machinery to fill the factory.

The factory was is full operation by September of 1911. With business good and the factory at full capacity, in October of 1915, company president A. F. Fix announced they plan “to construct an addition, 100 x 120 ft., two stories, of brick construction, which will double its capacity.” When this addition was completed in 1916, the factory employment reached 100 men. The factory workers earned between 12 and 25 cents per hour, depending upon their skill level.

The 1916 addition appears at the right side of the “Then & Now” photos. I’ve utilized elements on Sheet 10 from the July 1929 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Dallastown, PA, to assemble a continuous single plan view of the factory while annotating the Ma & Pa Railroad tracks in the area. The Sanborn map section is from Penn State Libraries on-line digital collection of older Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.

Assembled from Sheet 10 of the July 1929 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Dallastown, PA (Source: Penn State Libraries on-line digital collections; Annotated by S. H. Smith, 2017)

The smokestack at the Dallastown Furniture Factory was 90-feet tall. Coal and scrap wood were burned to fire a boiler, which in turn powered a stationary steam engine that drove the line shafts throughout the factory.

During the Great Depression, people and businesses made due with their old furniture, for longer and longer periods of time. The Dallastown Furniture Company was one of the casualties; and in 1937 the company elected to dissolve voluntarily and wind up the company’s affairs. These over one-hundred-year-old factory buildings in Dallastown still stand and continue to be utilized by other businesses.

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