York County Tourist Information Center and Avalong
In this sketch, Cliff Satterthwaite captures the energetic Grand Opening of the York County Tourist Information Center along Mt. Zion Road; across from Avalong Farms Dairy Bar. The opening occurred on April 15, 1973 and in the first four months 16,000 visitors had passed through the doors.
The center’s placement along the newly constructed four-lane Route 30 by-pass and having several television crews on hand for the opening created nice exposure for York as a tourist destination. Cliff’s sketch even captures the Channel 2 detail on the camera for the television crew from Baltimore.
Some of Cliff’s cutout murals also graced the entrance lobby, as seen in this submitted photo. From left to right: Marquis de Lafayette toast that likely saved General Washington’s command; John Elgar’s First Iron Steamboat; Earliest Balloon Ascensions; Phineas Davis’ First Practical Coal Burning Locomotive; and List of a few York First’s. Do any of my readers know where these murals are now located? Another view of the murals can be seen in this post: James Mills soars over York County in 1835.
Here is a zoomed-in view of the list showing a few of the firsts for York, Pennsylvania. The April 26, 1972, issue of the York Daily Record contained an article about the York County Visitors and Tourist Bureau signing contracts for the new tourist center: “The Colonial style information center, which adjoins Mt. Zion Road interchange and the by-pass, will be erected on a one acre track which has been leased to the bureau for 50 years at $1 a year by Clyde and Joanne Long, owners of Avalong Dairy.”
“Designed by H. B. Stultz, Jr., registered architect of York, the 2400-square feet building will feature a 49-seat theater in which 10-minute films of York County tourist attractions will be shown. The large entrance lobby will house exhibits of York industrial products and displays showing the historic highlights of the York area. The building will also house offices of the bureau as well as public facilities. The parking lot has space for 47 cars plus tourist buses. Access to the lot will be from Mt. Zion Road and exit will be to School Road.”
The road fronting York County’s Tourist Information Center was then known as School Road; so named after Springettsbury Township School which sat east of the center. This road is now an eastward extension of Whiteford Road, forming the southern boundary of Springettsbury Township Park.
Years later, the number of visitors at the Mt. Zion Road tourist information center dropped off and Harley Davidson offered to consolidate the York County tourist information function within their visitor center. The Mt. Zion Road building passed onto new owners until Springettsbury Township purchased the building in 2007.
Since 2008, the building on the corner of Mt. Zion and Whiteford Roads has been used as the Headquarters for York Area United Fire & Rescue until they moved into quarters within the new firehouse on Commons Drive last year. Since then the building at 3321 Whiteford Road has been used for firefighter training; such was the case at the time of the following top photo, from March of this year. When I drove by the building May 1st, it had been demolished; bottom photo.
I wonder how the 50-year lease for land, which the building sat upon, figures into all the transactions? Fifty-years takes one from 1972 to 2022; which is seven years from now.
I checked for other newspaper articles about the 50-year lease and found the July 3, 1971 issue of the York Daily Record, which reported: “Plans for the construction of a new tourist information center by York County Visitors and Tourist Bureau advanced a step Thursday night when subdivision plans for the project were approved by the Springettsbury Township Board of Supervisors. The site for the building, a one-acre tract of land, is being leased to the tourist organization for 50 years at $1 per year by Clyde and Joanne Long, owners of Avalong Dairy, who are members of the bureau.”
Related posts include:
- Parade of Vintage Cars in Springettsbury Township
- Avalong Dairy drawn by Cliff Satterthwaite
- Third Avalong Barn captured by Cliff Satterthwaite
- Locations of five One-Room Schoolhouses that closed in 1952; and The Avalong Connection