York Town Square

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The Avenues stand at the center of York County’s universe

(Editor’s note: These brief items are representative of topics discussed in the Retro York Facebook Group, facebook.com/groups/retroyork.)

With the recent news that UPMC Memorial Hospital will open this summer in West Manchester Township, patients know where to head for care.

But where have Memorial’s patients gone before?

This image, from the book “Northwest York,” provides an early view of that neighborhood. The Avenues grew with the advent of the trolley, and it also had the advantage of rail service and three good roads – Roosevelt and Carlisle avenues and West Market Street.

Many people know that Memorial has been at its Spring Garden Township campus near Interstate 83 since 1962.

Some might even remember the hospital’s site before that when it operated as West Side Osteopathic Hospital on West Market Street next to the York Expo Center.

But relatively few know Dr. Edmund Meisenhelder opened the earliest forerunner to Memorial Hospital in 1913 – in the Avenues.

Yes, a hospital in that tree-lined area – so named because its streets are mostly labeled “avenues” – that grew up around the trolley lines.

The informative  booklet “Northwest York” indicates that the earliest locations of what later became West Side Sanitarium had 301 and 303 N. Hartley St. addresses.  The first patient, Estelle Spangler, lived on North Hartley.

The hospital immediately grew, and an annex opened at 720 Roosevelt Ave. in 1914.

The annex was believed to have been relocated to houses opposite the original site, 308-310 North Hartley.

After World War I, the hospital moved to West Market Street.

The booklet expresses pride about the accomplished people and iconic institutions that came from the Avenues.

And that pride is still there.

It’s news in The Avenues and, really, across the county when a restored mansion – the Lady Linden – is sold or when a big house – the former Lanius home place – is undergoing restoration.

Here’s another product of the Avenues that might surprise you.

The Out Door Country Club opened at 645 Madison Avenue in 1892.

It apparently was so named because it emphasized tennis, croquet, bicycling and hiking. It moved to the former location of the Country Club of York – now York College – in 1926 and to its current Manchester Township location in 1959.

The Out Door Country Club formed in The Avenues in 1892, one of several iconic institutions to come out of The Avenues. (Submitted to the YDR)

Venerable church learns about one-room schools

Earlier this month, I presented about one-room schools at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, as a wonderful stained glass window loomed in the background.

Members told me that it was transported from Good Shepherd’s former building at Salem Avenue and South Hartley Street in York when the congregation moved to its 2121 Roosevelt Avenue campus about 20 years ago.

Veteran members think it was made in Germany, and noted York artist J. Horace Rudy’s studio later re-leaded and cleaned it.

The Good Shepherd congregation formed in 1922 in the former Epworth Methodist Church building in York’s West End, according to Charles Glatfelter’s “York County Lutherans.”

The senior group I spoke to was really welcoming, engaged with the one-room school topic and was justifiably proud of that intricately made window.

The cellar at the William C. Goodridge Freedom Center on West Philadelphia Street in York with its newly fitted lights. This gives visitors to the museum a better idea of the conditions enslaved people faced when they were moving from station to station along the Underground Railroad. (Photo courtesy Goodridge Freedom Center).

Freedom Center works on exhibits

The William C. Goodridge Freedom Center has enhanced candle power, well, improved lighting, in its dirt cellar where the center’s namesake hid freedom seekers as part of the Underground Railroad before the Civil War.

It gives a better view particularly in daylight, although visitors no doubt understand that enslaved people hidden down there would have experienced cave-like darkness.

And no steps.

Over the years, the Goodridge Center has added exhibits: a pre-Civil War daguerreotype/photo studio, for example.

You can spend 90 minutes in this museum and still not take in everything.

Police, community partnership

The York community recently experienced a moment to compare and contrast.

The public, law enforcement members and other partners in the Group Violence Initiative met at the Appell Center, Crispus Attucks and Shiloh Baptist Church to review the three-year-old program targeting those who spark the vast majority of gun violence. Those are gangs and other groups.

It’s a positive benchmark that police and the community are engaged in such partnerships in a moment that marks the 50th anniversary of the York race riots.

Those revolts were catalyzed by a police department and mayor whose words and practices discriminated against the black community.


Civil War history for young and old

This new book tells the story of the Civil War Battle of Gettysbrg via military miniatures, wargames, dioramas, and scale model soldiers and battle scenes.

It follows that when young people and, actually, those of all ages get to know their local and national history, they more deeply appreciate their own community.

Author Scott Mingus views the Civil War as a leverage point for young people to engage with history, particularly through the use of miniatures. He draws on his own experience in learning about the war through these toy army men, with maps of battlefields and colorful scenery.

This interest continued as an adult, and it’s become multigenerational in his family.

So Scott and his grandson, Tristan, have teamed up to write a book on miniature wargaming: “Gettysburg in Miniature: A Battle Overview Illustrated With Model Soldiers and Dioramas,” available via Amazon. 

Scott Mingus wrote in a recent blog post about about engaging youngsters with history:

“We hope this new book will appeal to junior high and high school students, giving them a sweeping overview of the Gettysburg Campaign and the battle as they enjoy the 200+ black-and-white photos of miniatures. It is our small attempt to introduce Gettysburg to a new generation and keep the interest in the Civil War alive.”

Upcoming history presentation

Jamie Kinsley and I jointly moderate the quarterly York County Writers Round Table meeting in June. Writers’ Round Table is a group of writers, researchers and other members of the public with an interest in York County and regional history. 

Heather S. Tennies, director of Archival Services at Lancaster.org, will tell about some of connections between Lancaster and York counties at the next  meeting at 7 p.m., June 6, at the York County History Center, 250 E. Market St. York.

She also will discuss the holdings at this major historical organization in Lancaster County. The event is free and open to the public.