York Town Square

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Avalong barn family member: ‘This is an opportunity to create … not demolish a part of the past’

This scene of Avalong Farms comes from undated letterhead secured by York Daily Record/Sunday News’ Lauren Boyer from family members. The Avalong Mansion remains, known as Christmas Tree Hill, today. And the rear barn, left, center, later became a Pfaltzgraff pottery store. The barn stands today but its days are numbered. A bank is looking to demolish it and  build on its footprint. Also of interest: Doomed Avalong barn indicative of York County’s eroding sense of place.

Planned demolition of the old Avalong Farm barn, architectually called a ‘Wisconsin Barn,’ has prompted intense public sentiment against that decision.

But Karen Long, a member of the family that owned the barn for decades, joins other relatives in believing it will be pulled down next week: Avalong Barn’s age in dispute, but family believes it’s a goner.

She wrote in a letter to the York Daily Record/Sunday News that Susquehanna Bank is seeking to place the barn’s cupola with an original weathervane in the new bank building planned for that site.

“This is an opportunity to create a unique location for a bank branch,” she wrote, “not demolish a part of the past.”

In coverage of this spate of demolitions – including the former Gettysburg Cyclorama building and Spring Valley Peacock Farm – an official used this criteria for making such decisions. The market will determine the best use for a particular piece of real estate.

So the market must decide.

That’s an unfortunate view, one taken in the 1960s when many historic buildings in York area were pulled down – the York County Academy, York City Market, the Helb Mansion and the Children’s Home of York.

You can just about hear echoes of the city fathers talking about the market in the 1960s:  The market is calling for parking lots. We’re losing our shirts to suburban shopping centers. We need more parking lots for our struggling downtown, and if it costs us some old buildings, that’s the price we’ll pay.

Well, the market is often short-sighted and sees little but the immediate need. Imagine today the added potential in the city if the City Market were still standing. Perhaps HACC would be meeting in the old York Collegiate Institute today and the downtown would have the advantages of a college.

It’s interesting that we now have a structure, the Avalong barn, facing demolition in a struggling suburban shopping center. The market is always calling, to be sure. But that call does not always ring true and sound in the best long-term interests of a community.

Next up:

The Springettsbury Fire House – not historic perhaps,  but five decades old – is slated to come down next year to make way for commercial  use. Emergency operations are moving to a new building.

The farm operated a dairy store across Whiteford Road, known locally as Avalong’s. A Rutter’s Restaurant replaced it and today a Metro Bank building stands there. This photograph from Avalong letterhead appears to have provided the basis for a mural inside the bank, visible from the road. Also of interest: Avalong’s Restaurant once sat across the road from the barn and Meadowbrook estate.

Also of interest:

From Meadowbrook Mansion to York County farmhouse

Ever hear of the Meadowbrook Guest House?

About Avalong’s and Melvin’s: ‘I am some what familiar with the history of the area’

Mother Goose teaches York County history lessons

To see contemporary interior photographs of the old Avalong barn, check out this LMS Commercial Real Estate listing. (Notice the Pfaltzgraff logo is still evident in one of the interior frames.)

Please comment below
Avalong Farm family members believe the old landmark barn, most recently the Pfaltzgraff pottery outlet store, will come down soon to make way for a bank. What is your view of this transaction: A landmark for a bank? Do you expect to drop by Whiteford and Mount Zion roads for one last look?