York Safe & Lock’s Forry Laucks, Lauxmont sparked debates
Forry Laucks, the original owner of Lauxmont farms now part of a park controversy, was himself controversial.
The contrarian owner of York Safe & Lock was a Democrat in the 1920s and 1930s when many York County factory owners were Republican. He was a pioneer at getting government contracts for defense work during buildup to World War II, but it took W.S. Shipley from York Ice Machinery and York Corporation, to mold such collaborative efforts into the York Plan.
He was at home on the farm and factory. He had a downtown residence as well as his Lauxmont mansion.
He loved York, but spent much time in New York.
Fortune published a profile, “Up to Lauxmont,” shortly before Laucks’ death in 1942, which captured a bit of the Laucks’ legend. An excerpt follows: …
Forry Laucks was growing older and richer. The richer he got, the faster he bought out one after another of the non-Laucks stockholders, until finally he owned all but a few shares belonging to his sisters. He began to cultivate his hobbies. He bought half a dozen adjoining farms on the rolling hills overlooking the Susquehanna and turned them into “Lauxmont Farms.” On one knoll he built a $250,000 dairy, complete with bottling equipment, milking parlors, maternity wards, bull stables, and a glass-walled circular restaurant where he sells milk drinks, ice cream, and candy to his York neighbors. His blooded Holsteins won grand prizes at agricultural shows from New York to Iowa, as did his blooded Duroc swine, which had a tract of their own farther down the road, and his blooded White Holland turkeys, on another farm.
He bought big cars, and a 100-foot seagoing yacht, christened Lauxmont, in which he cruised the southern coastal waters. He built a magnificent French Provincial chateau on the highest rise of his farmland overlooking the broad and gentle Susquehanna, filled it with expensive antiques, and surrounded it with gardens, a swimming pool, vineyards, and orchards. There was no one to share it, for his wife had died in 1925. He hired a crew of servants to maintain it, a gardener to care for his orchids and other hothouse flowers. He entertained sumptuously at Lauxmont and gave big stag parties whose echoes still rock the Lutheran piety of York.
Selected York Safe & Lock links:
– New Freedom station houses alien safe
– York Safe & Lock worker recalls chat with Hedy Lamarr
– Hedy Lamarr’s visit to York long remembered
– From Bofors to Bikes, Harley plant top hog
– Forry Laucks, Lauxmont sparked debates
– York-made safes spotted in post-war Tokyo
– York Safe restoration ‘once in a lifetime’ project.
– York Safe faltered after owner’s death.
All York Safe & Lock posts from the start.
(For multiple posts on York County’s industrial prowess, see this blog’s Made in York category.)