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History of YORK’s Grantley Plant, Part 2; Sequence of Seven Industrial Owners on this parcel prior to YORK (Johnson Controls)

1908 Topographic Map Segment Showing Southwest York, PA and Adjacent Area of Spring Garden Township, Map Surveyed in 1908 and Printed in 1910 (Road Names added in Red and Yellow Highlighting by S. H. Smith)

When I was first employed as a YORK Engineer in 1972, YORK’s Grantley Plant consisted of all the property bounded by Grantley Road on the east, Richland Avenue on the west, Codorus Creek on the north and Kings Mill Road on the south.  The size of this property is 91-acres.

This post examines the sequence of seven industrial owners on this parcel prior to YORK and is the second in a series delving into the history of the Grantley Plant.  Other posts in this series or related posts include:


The current owners of the 91-acres bounded by Grantley Road, Richland Avenue, Codorus Creek and Kings Mill Road are Patriot Equities and D & D Distribution Services.  Johnson Controls is currently leasing back about two-thirds of the Patriot Tech Center’s building space on the property.  In chronological order, here is the sequence of seven industrial owners on these 91-acres up to the ownership by YORK (Johnson Controls).

1902    York Bridge Company

The first industrial owner within these 91-acres was the York Bridge Company, which was incorporated in 1901.  In 1902 Chauncy F. Black sold off a parcel for industrial use within his property called Black’s Addition.  Chauncy Black had originally set up Black’s Addition as a residential subdivision with several streets and acreage on all four corners at the Richland Avenue and Kings Mill Road intersection.

The 1902 sale was to the York Bridge Company; they thus became the first industrial firm within these 91-acres.  On the 1908 Topographic Map, the York Bridge Company is the large building shown at the northeast corner of Richland Avenue and Kings Mill Road.  By 1908, the bridge company had purchased all of Chauncy Black’s 11-acres on the northeast corner of this intersection.  Also by 1908, the General Roofing Manufacturing Company (eventually called Certain-Teed Products) is located on the northwest corner of this intersection.

1916    Boston Iron & Metal Company

In 1916, the Boston Iron & Metal Company purchased the assets of the York Bridge Company, which went out of business in 1915.  The Boston Iron & Metal Company was a company incorporated in Maryland; their principal offices were in Baltimore, Maryland.  Morris Schapiro was President and William B. Booz was Secretary and Treasurer of The Boston Iron & Metal Company.

1919    Cochrane Brass Foundry

On April 1st 1919, John H. Cochrane, doing business as Cochrane Brass Foundry purchased the 11-acre property which had belonged to Boston Iron & Metal Company.  In 1921, John H. Cochrane, individually and trading as the Cochrane Brass Foundry, filled for Bankruptcy.  This 11-acre site was sold to pay creditors, however John H. Cochrane would go on to successfully re-established the Cochrane Brass Foundry.  This business produced bronze, brass, copper & aluminum castings; it thrived at Ogontz and Prospect Streets in another area of Spring Garden Township.

1919    York Steel Corporation

On June 26th 1919, Alice J. Miller sold the 80-acre estate of her late husband William H. Miller to York Steel Corporation.  The 80-acre estate encompassed all acreage bounded by Grantley Road, Richland Avenue, Codorus Creek and Kings Mill Road; less the 11-acres on the northeast corner of Richland Avenue and Kings Mill Road.  The estate gatehouse along Kings Mill Road and their main house in the center of the property can be seen on the 1908 Topographic Map.

1922    York Corrugating Company

On February 28 1922, the York Corrugating Company purchased the 80-acre property from the York Steel Corporation.  York Corrugating Company was incorporated in 1902; with their business located on South Adams Street at the Western Maryland Railroad in West York.  Early on they advertised “sheet metal work of every description.”  Nothing has been found that indicates either the York Steel Corporation or the York Corrugating Company ever built on the 80-acre property during their few years of ownership.

1922    McGann Manufacturing Company

On September 21st 1922, the McGann Manufacturing Company purchased the 11-acre property, which had belonged to Cochrane Brass Foundry.  McGann produced chemical equipment, dryers, hydrators, sugar machinery, dam & lock gates, condensers, tanks, boilers and various kinds of heavy special machinery.  During WWII, the company did subcontract War Production Work and added prime contract work for the U. S. Army.  My Dad, Harold L. Smith, worked at McGann for several weeks prior to being drafted in WWII; that will be the subject of a future post.  A fire destroyed half of the McGann Plant in 1947.  The McGann Manufacturing Company ended up filling for Bankruptcy.

1923    York Manufacturing Company

On August 25th 1923, the York Manufacturing Company purchased the 80-acre property from the York Corrugating Company.  YORK’s sales of refrigeration equipment were outgrowing the manufacturing capacity of their 19-acre west York plant.  Part of their new property near the creek was swampy; 129,500 cubic yards of earth and stone fill were required before building in this area of the Grantley Plant could begin.

September 1925 the first building was completed at YORK’s Grantley Plant.  This building housed the Ice Can and Sheet Metal Departments and was located on the northwest corner of Grantley Road and Kings Mill Road; in current building numbering this is Building 7.

1948    Bowen & McLaughlin-York

The court-appointed trustee from the McGann Bankruptcy elected to lease the partially rebuilt plant and 11-acre property at northeast corner of Richland Avenue and Kings Mill Road.  This property was leased to Bowen & McLaughlin.  The firm Bowen & McLaughlin goes back to the year 1943 in Phoenix, Arizona when it was engaged by the San Francisco Ordnance District to overhaul and rebuild 3,869 Military Vehicles.

The first announcement that the firm was moving to York, Pennsylvania was via an article in the York Dispatch; issue of 20 November 1948.  Bowen & McLaughlin leased the McGann Plant at 955 Kings Mill Road.  This company had a contract to recondition 1,300 M4A3 tanks.  York was selected because it was close to the source of the tanks, Letterkenny Army Depot, a good shipping infrastructure existed, a host of subcontractors were in the area and York was known as a home of craftsmen who had taken an important role in manufacturing during World War II.

Bowen & McLaughlin-York continued to operate at the 11-acre Kings Mill Road site until 1965.  Construction of a larger BMY plant on Bairs Road in West Manchester Township was announced in 1960.  Primary production operations were moved to the Bairs Road plant in 1964, while final operations at the Kings Mill Road plant ceased in 1965.  Bowen & McLaughlin-York became a division of Harsco Corporation, then United Defense and is now BAE Systems.

1967    York Division of Borg-Warner Corporation

In 1967, York Division of Borg-Warner Corporation purchased the 11-acre site formerly leased by Bowen & McLaughlin-York at the corner of Richland Avenue and Kings Mill Road.  The long high-bay factory was designated YORK’s Building 60.  The office building near Kings Mill Road was designated Building 50 and all the other buildings on the 11-acre site were numbered between 50 and 60.

This is my 110th post. An inventory of the general topics and locations that have been the subjects of my first 100 posts are presented in a 100-tile mosaic that breaks down these posts into seven general categories.

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts