York Town Square

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Those old brick, Victorian-era factories? Housing proposed for another big York-area complex

Developers are eyeing the Martin-Parry Corporation complex in West York, Pa., later occupied by Keystone Weaving Mills, for revitalization projects. This photograph comes from former West York Mayor Charles A. Slenker’s “Remembrances of West York Borough.” (See additional photo below.) Also of interest: Did York Silk ever operate a silkmaking factory in West York? and How one spot in York County, Pa., tells much about what’s going on around there and York factory’s lines ranged from Moneybak black silk to boys pajamas and Is this a York County farm truck or is it just a wagon with a motor?.

The complex of brick buildings on West York’s south side has shipped everything from trucks to textiles.
And now, like so many other former factory buildings in the York area, some of those buildings might be converted into apartment houses or condos.
The complex, orginally the Milton D. Martin Carriage Works along the York-Gettysburg Turnpike, made horse-drawn conveyances in the 1890s.
That name Martin might sound familiar. That’s the same M.D. Martin of Martin Library fame… .

This old carriage gets an overhaul at Martin-Parry. (Photograph courtesy of “Remembrances of West York.”
The name of the road changed to the Lincoln Highway – now Route 462 or West Market Street – as motorized vehicles replaced horse-drawn carriages and carts. And Martin Carriage Works changed its product line accordingly as did other York County wagonmakers, eventually combining in 1919 with Parry Manufacturing Company of Indianapolis to become known as the Martin-Parry Corporation.
“Martin’s most important model was the Atlas truck, a 1-ton stake body truck,” Georg Sheets wrote in “Made in York.” “Only two or three of these truck models have survived.”
Martin-Parry made truck and other vehicle bodies through the 1930s in West York and other locations.
Later, Keystone Weaving Mills occupied the complex, Charles A. Slenker wrote in “Remembrances of West York Borough.”
Now developers are interested in demolishing some buildings and rehabbing others into housing and commercial offices, similar to plans for the Codo complex on North George Street and the Northwest Triangle project. Community leaders are banking on many of these housing projects to bring people back to formerly blighted parts of the York area.
A York Daily Record/Sunday News story (1/28/2010) about the project began this way:

York County’s planning commission has proposed to work with two developers to redevelop the old Keystone Weaving Mills manufacturing complex on West Market Street in West York, according to the commission.
The commission and the developers, The Ingerman Group and PFG Capital, plan to demolish all but four buildings on the site, said Chris Rafferty, the commission’s administrator of housing and community development. They plan to redevelop one building into an 80-unit apartment building, Rafferty said, and the other buildings into commercial and office space.
The new buildings would revitalize West York and boost its tax revenue, said Brian Wilson, president of the borough’s council.
“It is very good for West York,” Wilson said. “It is something that we need.”

For a detailed history of Martin-Parry Corporation with photos of advertisements showing the company’s truck bodies and other products, click here.