York Town Square

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Public getting views of Cookes House, the 1761 stone house in York, Pa.

The Cookes house, one of York County’s oldest structures, is shown in a photograph from about 1890 to 1900. New owner Michael Helfrich is laboring to learn more about the history of the historic house, on the bank of the Codorus Creek in York City. Also of interest: Two hundred years after Thomas Paine’s death, the pamphleteer is due a marker in York and Worker saved key historical surveys from Glatfelter pulping machine and York’s housing stock not that revolutionary.

A major mystery surrounds the Cookes House, the 1761 stone structure that is easily overlooked to the rear of Martin Luther King Jr. Park in the western part of York.
Did Thomas Paine live and work there when the Continental Congress met in York in 1777-78? … .

Michael Helfrich shows off the ribes Cookes House large walk-in fireplace. The house was originally owned by Johannes Guckes in 1761 — later known as John Cookes.
The new owner of the Cookes House, Michael Helfrich, is out to get to the bottom of that question, and we’ll make his findings public as they come available. The short answer, at this point, is that only tradition links pamphleteer Paine to the house. However, there is no controversy about Paine being in York. Some correspondence and his publications are placed here.
For now, Helfrich, who works as the Susquehanna riverkeeper, recently opened his house to the public and plans to do so in the future, perhaps in May in connection with the anniversary of the Continental Congress’ ratification of treaties with France that brought that ally into the American Revolution against the British.
That open house brought in more than 100 people in three hours, the first public view of the house in memory.
Helfrich served more than three gallons of venison stew cooked on the fireplace in a Revolutionary War Dutch oven.
“We’ll do it again,” he wrote in an e-mail.
For a recent York Daily Record/Sunday New story on the house, visit: Historic York home dates to 1761.