Dempwolf’s Old Man Winter in York: ‘It should last another hundred years’
The face of ‘Old Man Winter’ on the side of famed York, Pa., architect John Augustus Dempwolf’s own house was so deteriorated that it could not be saved. So, Mark Dehrig, sculptor, and Ken Oatman, mason, created a replica. Background posts: Dempwolf windmill graced north bank of York’s Codorus Creek in 1870s and Fawn Township’s magnificent Centre Presbyterian Church worthy of a looksee and Dempwolf architects built York’s skyline, history.
John Augustus Dempwolf designed his own home on South George Street in York in 1886.
Historian and fellow blogger Scott Butcher wrote in “York, America’s Historic Crossroads” the he also designed several other homes occupied by neighbors.
“Designed in the Queen Anne Style, one of the most notable features of the building is the ornamental facade featuring ‘Old Man Winter,’ he wrote.
Well, “Old Man Winter” has suffered frostbite on many occasion since, and he was very long of tooth… .
Historic York Inc. honored Ken Oatman, left, and Mark Dehrig for restoring the face of ‘Old Man Winter,’ seen above in the triangle at the top of John Dempwolf’s former house in York.
Craftsmen sit to work on the deteriorating architectural feature, and the result is that the Old Man should age even more.
“It should last another hundred years,” one of the craftsmen said.
A York Daily Record/Sunday News story (May 15, 2009) tells about the restoration:
The face of “Old Man Winter” was crumbling, buried under an inch of paint left from previous touch-up jobs.
The face is sculpted on the east peak of an 1886 home at 701 S. George St., once the home of York architect John Dempwolf.
The face and other carvings of Roman and Greek gods on the property are believed to have been sculpted by John’s younger brother, Reinhardt Dempwolf, said Mike Johnson of York Preservation Partners.
But the face was “literally coming off the wall,” said sculptor Mark Dehrig, who is also a glass technician with Rudy Art Glass.
Dehrig was contacted by Ken Oatman, of Oatman Masonry, about restoring the face for a project with York Preservation Partners. But the level of damage meant the face had to be replaced.
“We weren’t able to save it. It was such a shame,” Dehrig said. “We would’ve been fixing it every year, forever.”
So Dehrig made a reproduction of the face, “the old-fashioned way.” He did some excavating of the old paint, took pictures, made a set of molds and reproduced the sculpted face. Oatman’s company worked on the façade, replacing other items that were falling off, Dehrig said
“It should last another hundred years,” he said.
Johnson — who said he called the face “Old Man Winter” but isn’t sure who the sculpture depicts — gave credit to Oatman and Dehrig for making the project happen.
“It’s an exact replica of what was there,” he said.