How Hanover’s Eichelberger school morphed into ‘The Eich’
Hanover’s Eichelberger Performing Arts Center is the heir to Eichelberger Senior High School. Background posts:Historical marker may soon point to Jefferson square’s famous visitors and York freedman Aquilla Howard chosen to honor slain Abraham Lincoln and Abandoned Codorus railroad not just any abandoned railroad.
This is a story with many connections, centering around a southwestern York County businessman by the name of Eichelberger and how history has considerably shortened his name.
Hanover Junction, about 10 miles south of York, is so named because the rail line to Hanover met the Northern Central Railroad there.
The Hanover Branch was the line Abraham Lincoln took on his way to and from Gettysburg where he delivered his famous address.
A force behind the Hanover Branch for many years was Abdiel W. Eichelberger, who some believed looked like Lincoln.
By the way, with a name like Abdiel, you can see why Eichelberger went by A.W… .
An interior view of The Eich’s renovated auditorium.
Eichelberger built a private school on a rise in Hanover in 1896. He named it Eichelberg Academy, knocking off the “er.” It stood high on the rise, a bit like an iceberg. Still does.
The academy changed into Eichelberger Senior High School, a function it served for much of the 20th century.
In the 1990s, it was transformed into the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center.
It markets itself as The Eich.
A.W.’s last name probably won’t get much shorter.
Here’s a bit more information about this York County landmark, from an upcoming issue of Spaces magazine:
Although the building no longer functions as a school, the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center in Hanover, York County, continues to be used to educate children.
Abdiel W. Eichelberger donated the building for public use in 1900 with the wish that it would remain an educational institution.
Today, the center not only functions as a live entertainment venue, but also as a place for children to act, sing, dance and learn the mechanical aspects of producing a show.
“The building is still being used to bring special gifts to the area,” said Deb Levy, Eichelberger Performing Art Center’s executive director.
Even though it brings acts such as the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, the Eichelberger is still often remembered as a school.
Merle Whisler, a volunteer set builder at the center, said he feels at home in the building because he attended high school there, graduating in 1950.
While many residents remember the building as the Eichelberger Senior High School, it also functioned as a public elementary and middle school between 1900 and 1991.
Eichelberger built the central part of the institution in 1896 when it was used as a private school, the Eichelberg Academy.
The original brick building was colonial in style with Indiana limestone trimmings and a cupola.
In 1931, two L-shaped wings were added that included a theater, gymnasium and additional classroom space. These wings more than tripled the size of the original building to an excess of 65,000 square feet, according to the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center Web site.
After closing its doors as a public educational institution in 1991, the Eichelberger building sat vacant for about three years, according to Levy, until a developer purchased the building, renovated it and turned it into professional condominiums.
Brothers Andrew and Michael Hoffman purchased the remaining unsold condominium space, including the theater, in 1997.
After $2 million in renovations, the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center opened for its first performance in October 1998.
ABOUT THE CENTER
Eichelberger Performing Arts Center
195 Stock St., Suite 200, Hanover
For details: 717-637-7086 or visit www.theeich.org for more information.The building that houses the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center and office condos is on the National Register of Historic Places.
What does that mean?
“This is the United States’ official list of cultural resources that are considered worthy of preservation and is part of a national program administered by the National Park Service,” according to the center’s Web site.