Stewartstown Mystery involved a Dempwolf Mansion in York
Jim McClure did a post on June 7th 2016, where he asked the question: Did this York home pick up & move to Stewartstown? A question from Stewartstown Historical Society’s Doug Winemiller to Jim McClure prompted that post, in which June Lloyd and myself also provided our thoughts.
We were attempting to solve a Stewartstown mystery involving a York mansion repurposed in building Stewartstown’s Hartenstein Funeral Home during 1948. Jim Hartenstein thought the mansion in question was located on the corner of Beaver and Market Streets in York. Solving the mystery came about by expanding the search and discovering the mansion was not on that corner. The mansion was near that corner.
I’ve noticed many “Mansion Type” structures on Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps have distinctive plan views. Penn State Libraries On-Line Collections provide Internet access to 1887 and 1908 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of York, PA. The Library/Archives of the York County History Center also contains original Sanborn Maps for those and additional years.
The section of the 1908 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map illustrates the northwest corner of North Beaver Street and West Market Street in York. I’ve placed an arrow, pointing to a “Mansion Type” structure, at 109 West Market Street. If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.
With the “109 West Market Street” clue in hand, Doug Winemiller provided an additional clue. J. Ross McGinnis remembered the name of the building in York; the Kurtz Mansion. I did a newspaper search using these two clues, while bracketing on few years just prior to 1948. That search resulted in the following find in the November 7, 1946 issue of The Gazette and Daily.
OLD KURTZ HOME TO BE RAZED FOR PARKING LOT. Work on razing the imposing three-story town residence, brownstone and brick construction, located at 109 West Market Street, to make way for a parking lot was started yesterday. The site of the property has been in the Kurtz family for more than a century. It was first owned by Attorney Kurtz’s great uncle, William H. Kurtz; who was born in 1804 and was admitted to the York County Bar, January 7, 1829. He served as a representative in Congress from this district.
The Gazette and Daily article, coupled with the clues and memories, proves the location and name of the mystery mansion in York that was used in building Stewartstown’s Hartenstein Funeral Home during 1948. Further Stewartstown area memories, and Jim Hartenstein’s recent discovery of photos, taken during the demolition of the York mansion, indicate items from the mansion were repurposed; i.e. the whole mansion was not moved.
Pieces of the Kurtz Mansion were removed just prior to the late-1946 demolition and were moved to Stewartstown where they were repurposed in building a funeral home. Repurposed items include: woodwork, staircases, mantels, windows, doors, lights, stained glass windows, flooring, some bricks and other materials. Three of the more elaborate repurposed items are shown in photographs submitted by Jim Hartenstein: a Staircase & Seating Alcove, a Music Room Chandelier, and an Ornate Fireplace & Mantel.
This photo shows a staircase that is wrapped beside and behind a seating alcove in the Kurtz Mansion at 109 West Market Street, York, PA. Photograph, submitted by Jim Hartenstein, was taken prior to its removal during demolition of the mansion in 1946. The staircase was repurposed in building Stewartstown’s Hartenstein Funeral Home during 1948.
This photo shows a chandelier, which was hung in the music room of the Kurtz Mansion at 109 West Market Street, York, PA. Photograph, submitted by Jim Hartenstein, was taken prior to its removal during demolition of the mansion in 1946. This chandelier was repurposed in building Stewartstown’s Hartenstein Funeral Home during 1948.
Last week, while volunteering at the York County History Center, I was showing a visitor how to use the Newspapers.com newspaper search software available at the Library/Archives. One of her searches brought up the front page of the September 3, 1887, issue of The York Daily. Near the article that she was interested in was an article that caught my eye; entitled “Ancient Coins.” The first sentence of the article indicated the coins “were dug out of the cellar that Mr. W. H. Kurtz is having excavated next to the York National Bank.” The two coins with readable dates were dated 1721 and 1746; which were considered “ancient” in the eyes of the person finding them.
That 1887 clue, associated with excavating for a W. H. Kurtz building, next to the Bank, resulted in the discovery of the following article; found in the August 9, 1887, issue of The York Daily:
Yesterday workmen commenced tearing down the old building, known as the Kurtz property, West Market Street, adjoining the York National Bank, preparatory to erecting a two-story building with mansard roof on the site of the old building. The owner of the property, Mr. W. H. Kurtz, will have one of the most desirable and handsome private dwellings in this city. Mr. J. A. Dempwolf is the architect and Nathaniel Weigle the contractor.
It is interesting to note that local Architect John A. Dempwolf and contractor Nathaniel Weigle had only recently teamed up to complete The York Collegiate Institute building earlier in 1887. I searched the Dempwolf collection in the PastPerfect catalog at the York County History Center and discovered they had several of John A. Dempwolf’s original drawings for the Kurtz residence. The following illustration contains Dempwolf’s 1887 drawings of the south (front) elevation and east (side) elevation of the residence for W. H. Kurtz, Esq.
Besides this printout from PastPerfect, I also reviewed all of the original Dempwolf drawings. Comparing the photo of the ornate fireplace to the plan drawing, leads one to conclude this fireplace was located in the Library of the Kurtz Mansion. The Library, on the first floor, contained the semi-circular, windowed wall; not all that different from the same design element used by Dempwolf in the York Collegiate Institute building. J. A. Dempwolf specified the use of cherry woodwork in the Library.
I know that John A. Dempwolf designed the altars in some of the churches he designed. It is possible the ornate fireplace in the Library was a Dempwolf design. In any case, an 1887 date can definitely be placed on the repurposed items from the razed Kurtz Mansion that still survive in the funeral home in Stewartstown.
This photo shows the ornate fireplace and mantel, which was located in the first floor Library of the Kurtz Mansion at 109 West Market Street, York, PA. Photograph, submitted by Jim Hartenstein, was taken prior to its removal during demolition of the mansion in 1946. This fireplace and mantel was repurposed in building Stewartstown’s Hartenstein Funeral Home during 1948.
The Stewartstown Historical Society has a neat upcoming program on the restoration of the old Hyson School and on other one-room schools in East Hopewell Township. This program will be presented on Wednesday September 7th, 2016, at 7:30 PM, at the Hopewell Presbyterian Church, 8426 Church Road, Felton, PA 17322.
Related John A. Dempwolf links include:
- Highland Inn, 1893 by J. A. Dempwolf; Where was it located near York?
- The Kurtz Mansion at 109 West Market Street
- Dempwolf building stood next to Bonham House
- Malt, Castings and Turbine-Waterwheels
- Residence of Martin Library namesake built in 1895
- Haines Building on North George Street
- Western Maryland Railway Freight Offices
- Unlocking the Mystery of Baltimore Factory of York Safe & Lock Co.