Buildings reveal a bit about York
John Hartman’s skyscraper, home of Futer Bros. Jewelers for years, has caused revealing conversations in York since its completion in 1850.
As outlined in the last post, Hartman built a six-story building about three years after former former slave William C. Goodridge completed his five-story Centre Square structure.
John Vincent Jezierski, who wrote the authoritative “Enterprising Images, The Goodridge Brothers, African American Photographers, 1847-1922,” indicates that Goodridge purchased property from Hartman in 1845.
So, the two businessmen did business with each other. But perhaps the relationship soured… .
After Hartman’s building went up, the buzz around town was that the owner was trying to outdo Goodridge.
Jezierski cited a 1897 newspaper article by historian George Prowell addressing the Goodridge building: “It was the first four-story building in York and attracted wide attention, because it was built by a mulatto.”
James A. Kell, in a little-known 1927 letter to Prowell, told of family conversations about the prosperous Goodridge and his building. Kell wrote:
“I don’t know how he accumulated money enough to put up such a house. Well, ‘Johnny’ Hartman declared he would not let a – – – colored man (but he used a more common word)” put up a higher building.
Kell noted that the Hartman building had an observatory or cupola on top.
Over the years, that cupola and the top three stories were removed.
In drawings and photographs, the Goodridge building appears to have actually stood about 4 ½ stories. The fifth story consisted of a level with prominent dormer windows.