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Papermaker scores 150th: Why Glatfelter doors are red and other Spring Grove stories

The Glatfelter Story

Glatfelter has produced this nicely done and informative 45-minute video as part of its 150th-anniversary celebration. Glatfelter started as a single Spring Grove mill in 1863 and now is a sprawling, international company. ‘When I first came to Spring Grove,’ Amanda Glatfelter is quoted at the video’s beginning, ‘the mill was standing where the Western Maryland Railroad crosses my front lawn. A dozen houses, most of them built of logs, comprised the village … .’ We’ll hear from the wife of P.H. Glatfelter at the end of this post, where you can view the video, courtesy of YouTube. Also of interest: Casper Glattfelder’s legacy: Glatfelters, Gladfelters, Glotfeltys, Clodfelters and Clotfelters – and more.

“The Glatfelter Story” carved the company’s 150-year history into four eras. And the video has a bonus at the end. Why all Glatfelter buildings have red doors.

Here’s that’s story within the story:

The use of red paint looks back to the days in which doors on Lutheran churches had red doors to signal the entrance into a holy sanctuary where all who enter would be protected from physical and spiritual harm. In the Civil War, it was said that red doors offered sanctuary to those who entered through there and stayed there.

After the war, Amanda Glatfelter, wife of P.H. Glatfelter, asked that all mill doors be painted red as a sign of welcome, and they remain so today to convey this message to employees, the community, customers and all who enter.

The following are 6 of my favorite images from York Daily Record and Evening Sun files explaining the Glatfelter story:



This often-used drawing captures the mill site early on. Remember what you’re seeing here when you take in the photos below.



I just like this photo, showing the Spring Grove community at play, circa 1895. This photo is courtesy York County Heritage Trust.



Spring Grove grew up around the mill. This image comes from a quiz put forth by the Evening Sun in Hanover about Glatfelter.


glat7An interesting thing about Spring Grove: It’s a tidy town today, all the more impressive given the fact that heavy industry in the form of the paper mill always looms. 
Spring Grove High School’s sports teams are named the Rockets, but they play at Papermakers Stadium. Here is practice at the old stadium. Today, the football team plays at a stadium on the Roth’s Church Road campus.


Glatfelter’s influence, of course, extends outside the boundaries of Spring Grove. Lake Marburg at Codorus State Park came as a public/private partnership. Glatfelter provided the private part, seeking a large body of water for the papermaking process.



This photograph of everyday life in Spring Grove and beyond is significant because it is so everyday. Trucks bearing trees are seen around York County on their way to Glatfelter.


At the beginning of ‘The Glatfelter Story,’ Amanda Glatfelter continues on: ‘Later a new mill was built on the present site, and from my window, I have watched it grow and grow, and I often wonder what developments will take place in the coming years.’