York’s Lafayette Club: ‘It’s not your father’s club … It’s historic. But it’s not prehistoric’
This mural in the Lafayette Club shows York, Pa., soon after the Marquis de Lafayette visited the town in 1825. Lafayette returned to York about 50 years after his first visit, when he publicly supported George Washington during trying military and political times for the commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolution. This photo, capturing a scene adapted from engraver/artist William Wagner’s work, is part of a story about the club in an upcoming edition of ‘Spaces’ magazine. Update, 9/25/15: The club shut down in 2012, and York College has since acquired the venerable building. not Also of interest:10 years ago, York’s exclusive Lafayette Club became less exclusive, Part I, Part II and Marquis de Lafayette captivates folks even today.
For a club that has long been private and mysterious, York’s Lafayette Club – and particularly the townhouse where it operates – has seen much history.
P.A. Small, York’s leading businessman of the 19th century, lived here.
Gen. John B. Gordon stopped there to give a speech touting the gallantry of the Confederates then invading York in June 1863.
The deed for the townhouse was lost on the Titanic… .
Lafayette and his commanding general George Washington were friends during the American Revolution. For a closeup of a Lafayette mural hanging in the Lafayette Club, click here.
And now the club is seeking to break away from the exclusiveness that characterized it for most of its 100-plus-year-old history. In that regard, it is reflecting many key parts of the York community in opening their doors. In 1998, for example, the Lafayette Club accepted its first black member.
The club recently gave access to a York Daily Record/Sunday News photographer shooting a photo spread for ‘Spaces’ magazine.
The story and photos, in an upcoming issue of the magazine is headlined: ‘No longer a mystery,’ and ‘The Lafayette Club has established a more distinct presence in the community.’
Here’s an excerpts from the ‘Spaces’ story:
The Lafayette Club might look mysterious from the outside.
A green awning hovers over a heavy wooden door that seals the 111-year-old club off from the hustle and bustle at the corner of Market and Duke streets in York. The exterior of the building, built in 1839, is a smooth, nondescript red brick.
“This place wasn’t really exposed,” general manager Ed Lincoln Jr. said. “It was word of mouth. We never really advertised. They were private and very exclusive.”
Lincoln is trying to change that. During a four-month span this year, 80 new members joined the club, mostly people from York County.
Social events populate the club’s calendar, such as Wednesday night happy hours, poker tournaments and murder-mystery dinners.
The club has also established a more distinct presence in the community, providing catering to members and nonmembers alike.
“It’s not your father’s club, like the way it used to be,” Lincoln said. “It’s historic. But it’s not prehistoric.”
Above all, though, the place retains its classy, distinct charm.
The people, however, are what make the club great, Lincoln said.
“They welcome pretty much everybody,” Lincoln said, “with open arms.”
The decorations in this first-floor dining room match the seasons.