Englehart Melchinger House
The Englehart Melchinger House (5 North Main Street) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Englehart Melchinger House is located next to the square in Dover Borough, York County, Pennsylvania. The house is a brick, rectangular edifice that was built c.1852.[†] The primary facades are the south and west elevations. The south facade is highly visible to those heading north from the square, and the west facade faces North Main Street. The secondary facades are the north and the east elevations. The house has a number of features that reflect the Greek Revival style. Among these are the south attic window which features a classically-oriented lintel with dentils and the frieze windows located in the rear of the house. The most unusual Greek Revival feature are the window lintels, which show the early use of cast-iron in architectural ornamentation. The Italianate style is reflected in the heavy scroll brackets and panelled frieze located on the house and the front portico. The house's Italianate influence is limited to these wooden brackets. The house is in good condition and has good integrity.
The exterior of the Englehart Melchinger House features a brick foundation and walls. The walls are three brick layers thick with the principal west and south elevations being laid up in an exterior stretcher course, and the north and east elevations featuring a common bond pattern. Two of the most noteworthy features on the house are the heavy Italianate cornice and Doric entrance portico. The cornices feature heavy, scrolled brackets with a panelled frieze. The primary west facade is five bays wide with six-over-six double hung sashes.
The exterior window treatments are the Englehart Melchinger House's most significant feature. Windows on the west and south facade are decorated with cast-iron lintels that feature scrolled acanthus leaves. On the north and east elevations the windows have plain sills and lintels. As evidenced by earlier photographs, the house once had louvered shutters. The shutter pins around the beaded window casings are still present. Other windows include four attic frieze windows on the east elevation and two basement windows with brick lintels on the west elevation.
The central front door has four panels with scalloped corners, a glazed transom, and a wooden, shouldered surround. Other exterior features include a recessed two-story wooden porch on the east elevation, brick parapeted end chimneys, and a gable roof with slate shingle covering.
Calvary Lutheran Church has financed much exterior renovation since it purchased the Englehart Melchinger House in 1985. Fresh cement was laid to form a new porch floor and a new sidewalk. The four round columns on the front portico were rotting and were replaced with four similar Doric columns. The house was pressure-cleaned with a chemical solution in the summer of 1988 to remove the yellow paint from the bricks. The exterior of the house now more closely matches a turn-of-the-century photograph (Greater Dover Bicentennial Celebration, pg. 18) which shows unpainted bricks.
The original interior of the Englehart Melchinger House was described by Charles F. Kaufman in The History of Dover Township, York County, Pennsylvania. The house had a Georgian plan, two rooms deep, with an open stairway reaching from the first floor to the attic. There were three fireplaces, pine floors, plastered walls, and the attic was divided into two parts.
Since June of 1985, when the house was bought by Calvary Lutheran Church, several alterations have been made to the first floor. The area at the top of the stairs has been enclosed, in order to separate the second floor apartment from the first floor offices. A closet has been added under the stairway in what used to be the center hallway. The original baluster has turned spindles and a turned newel post. The stairway from the second floor to the attic is still open and retains its original handrail and spindles. The kitchen was given a new ceiling, and the southeast room on the first floor was replastered.
Inside the central door on the primary west facade is the southwest parlor. The south wall of what was once the center hallway has been removed to enlarge the parlor. The windows have wooden surrounds, and there are painted baseboards. The fireplace has been bricked in and sealed, but the mantel still remains. Also, the wall between the southwest parlor and the southeast room has been sealed. The original door frame remains, but it is only visible from the southeast room. Although some alterations have been made, the general plan of the house has been maintained. No change has been made that cannot be reversed.
There is a wooden, six-paneled door leading to the northwest parlor. The windows have wooden surrounds with painted decorative recessed panels below. Again, the fireplace has been bricked in and sealed, but the mantel remains. The painted baseboards match those of the southwest parlor.
The northeast room was originally the kitchen. This is evidenced by the walk-in fireplace on the north wall. The fireplace is not bricked in and sealed, as are the other four fireplaces. The wooden cupboard, which was later added, and the fireplace remain in excellent condition. There is a door with a three-light transom, which is no longer used, behind the sink on the north wall.
The southeast room has few remaining outstanding architectural features. The window frames are wooden, and there is a door on the east wall leading to the outside. This door was used when the southeast and southwest rooms housed the Dover National Bank. The sealed door frame, where French doors once hung, is evident from this room. The southeast and southwest rooms were most likely renovated to accommodate the Post Office and then the bank, but no specifications about these renovations are known.
There is a door in the enclosed stairway which leads to the second floor. The second floor originally had four rooms divided by a center hallway. Two smaller rooms, a bathroom and a laundry room, have been added by building a wall running north to south across the hallway between the northeast and southeast rooms, and another wall running east to west. This second wall cuts the middle window on the west facade in half. The addition of these two rooms does not affect the integrity of the house, as no original walls were altered, and the original structural walls are still in place.
While it has undergone some minor alterations, the second floor still retains its original four rooms. The northeast room is now the kitchen for the second floor apartment. There is a six-panelled wooden door with a three-light transom on the west wall, which leads to the recessed exterior porch. There is a closet with a six-panelled door on the north wall. There are plain, painted door and window surrounds and baseboards. There is a doorway leading to the center hall on the south wall.
The northwest room is the living room. On the north wall, there is a closet with a six-panelled door, and a fireplace mantel. The fireplace has been bricked in and sealed. The door and window surrounds have corner blocks decorated with bulls-eye lintels.
The southwest room is currently a bedroom. It has a bricked in and sealed fireplace on the south wall, with its original mantel. The painted door and window surrounds, decorated with corner blocks and bulls-eye lintels, match those in the northwest room.
The southeast bedroom has a door on the east wall, which leads to the porch. This room has plain, painted door and window surrounds. On the south wall there is a built-in closet with panelled doors, obviously of later construction.
Around the stairway in the attic is a baluster of turned spindles, which must have once been open the entire way around. At the top of the attic stairs is a closet with a six-panelled wooden door. The attic itself is divided into two rooms, with a wall running east to west. There is a doorway between the north and south rooms of the attic. Both the south and north rooms have panelled interior shutters and pine floors. The walls retain much of their original plaster.
The Englehart Melchinger House is one of the best, and one of the few remaining examples of mid-nineteenth century architecture in Dover. Constructed at a time when many in the borough were building in a traditional fashion, Englehart Melchinger introduced a high style of architecture that had not yet been seen in the rural community of Dover. The Englehart Melchinger House high style features, such as the cast-iron decorative lintels above the windows on the south and west elevations and the bracketed cornices, make it distinctive within the community. The use of the cast-iron lintels is the sole example of decorative cast-iron trim in Dover architecture. The classically influenced entrance portico is also an unusual additive to the architecture of the Dover area. Both the portico and the elaborate bracketed cornice are the products of local craftsman, Michael Link. The structure occupies a prominent spot in town, located next to the northeast corner of Dover Borough's square.
In 1762 Jacob Joner purchased 203 acres of land in south central Pennsylvania, which he laid out into the Borough of Dover two years later. In 1815, the first local Post Office was established. It was housed in Gerhart Graeff's tavern at 4 South Main Street on the southwest corner of the square, and Andrew Klein was the first Postmaster. The Borough's second Postmaster, Israel Melchinger, a Hessian soldier who settled in Dover after the close of the American Revolution, served from 1826 until his death in 1834. His general merchandise store at 5 North Main Street, on the northeast corner of the square, was designated the local Post Office. After his death, both the store and Post Office were taken over by his son, Englehart Melchinger. He served as Postmaster from 1834-1862.
From 1845-1851, Englehart Melchinger employed George N. Leckrone as the Assistant Postmaster. Prior to this, Leckrone had spent his childhood on his family's farm in Dover. It is apparent that, during the time the two men worked together, a strong bond formed between them. This is evidenced by the fact that Melchinger gave Leckrone power of attorney as he grew older. He also left Leckrone all of his real estate when he died, and made him an executor of his will.
Another, more important product of this relationship was the Englehart Melchinger House, which replaced a larger, whitewashed structure with double halls. It is probable that the construction was financed by Melchinger, a wealthy older man, and was supervised by Leckrone, a younger man more able to handle the rigorous activity of building a house.
The Englehart Melchinger House was built c.1852 by Washington Rodgers, a local brick mason. He erected a two and one-half story brick building with the main entrance on the west side. The structure had a simple Georgian plan, which was more formal than the Germanic buildings which dominated Dover at this time. The brick walls are three layers thick.
The Englehart Melchinger House is unique in Dover because of its ornate architecture and its integrity. Dover's architecture stretches back to the early and mid-nineteenth century. Many of Dover's buildings reflect the area's dominant Germanic origins, and most are simple, vernacular examples. The Englehart Melchinger House, however, displays far more stylistic decoration than most of Dover's buildings. The Metzler House, 19 North Main Street, the Yost House, 35 North Main Street, and the Weist House, 11 South Main Street, are all structures that were built contemporaneously with the Melchinger's. These houses, however, are remarkable more for their plainness and simplicity in form and design. The Metzler House is a two and one-half story common bond brick, gable-roofed house. It is four by two bays, with one central door, six-over-six windows, and a wooden porch with turned columns. It can best be described as a vernacular Pennsylvania German house. The Yost House is very similar to the Metzler House, being two and one-half stories, common bonded, with a gable roof. The house is four by two bays, with one central door, two-over-two windows, and a wooden porch with Tuscan columns. This is a vernacular Pennsylvania German home with Greek Revival trim. The Weist House is a two and one-half story, common bond brick, gable-roofed house. It is three by two bays, with an end door flanked by pilasters, a wooden porch with turned posts and balusters, scrolled brackets, pendants, and a spindled frieze. This is a vernacular Pennsylvania German house with Italianate influences.
Other houses such as the Meisenhelter House, 17 North Main Street and the Gerber House, 2 South Main Street, still stand, but have lost their integrity due to changes in ownership and inappropriate alterations. The Meisenhelter House is another vernacular Pennsylvania German house. The house is one and one-half stories, frame, and is gable roofed. It is four by two bays with a one story shed-roofed extension. The roof is covered with standing seam metal and the frame has been covered with asbestos siding. The Gerber House is also a vernacular Pennsylvania German style with a gable roof. It is four by two bays with a central door, and it has a two-story shallow gable-roofed rear extension. The exterior is covered with aluminum siding, and the porch is concrete with aluminum columns. When observing all of these houses, the Englehart Melchinger House stands out as the building which has best maintained its original condition and integrity.
The Englehart Melchinger House may have housed the borough's Post Office from 1852 to 1862. It was during this period that the house may have served as a stop on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves. In the time before the Civil War, York County was often the first sight of freedom for slaves coming north. Dover was part of the network which included other local communities such as Lewisberry, Wrightsville, Middletown, and Columbia. Dr. Robert Lewis was the best known Dover agent; and the Lewis and Melchinger Homes were said to have been used as stops.
In 1863, early arriving Confederate soldiers used the Englehart Melchinger Home as an office. Orderlies raided the cupboards, while the maids prepared the meals. On July 1, 1863, Confederate Cavalry Commander J.E.B. Stuart marched into Dover. The Confederates had fought at the Battle of Hanover the previous day, and they used Dover as a place to stop and rest. They spent two hours in Dover on the morning of July 1st. While Stuart ate breakfast at a tavern on the west side of Main Street, his officers met at the Englehart Melchinger House to discuss their march to Carlisle. Two servants at the home prepared a simple meal for their visitors.
When Melchinger died in 1880, he willed the house to Leckrone, who later became a farmer and prominent citizen of Dover. The southwest parlor and the southeast room on the first floor housed the borough's first financial institution, the Dover National Bank, from 1909-1924. The house remained in the Leckrone family until 1970; and in 1985 it was purchased by Calvary Lutheran Church in Dover. The northwest and southwest rooms on the first floor are used for Sunday School and Church Council meetings. The northeast and southeast rooms on the first floor serve as offices for the New Hope Ministries. The basement is used for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and the second floor is a private apartment.
Within the Borough of Dover, a community of vernacular Pennsylvania German homes, the Englehart Melchinger House stands alone with its distinct and intact architecture. Its use of decorative cast-iron and large Italianate brackets sets it apart from other mid-nineteenth century homes in Dover. The Englehart Melchinger House is the product of skilled craftsmen and men with the wealth and knowledge of architectural styles necessary to construct a house of this calibre.
[†] In 1852 construction date was cited in A History of Dover Township, York County, Pennsylvania, pages 167-168, 285, 523-524. However, a board in the attic of the Englehart Melchinger House shows "1861." Thus the exact date of construction is not known definitively.
Bashwill, Sue. Bloodroot VI. Dover, PA: Dover Area High School. 1981. Pgs.145-146.
Baughman, Nelson M. Interview. January 8, 1990.
Baughman, Nelson M. Greater Dover Bicentennial Celebration - 1764-1964. Pgs. 17-18.
Buckel, William H. Interview. February 5, 1990.
Frank, Dave, Greg Reich, and Bill Small. Bloodroot X. Dover, PA: Dover Area High School. 1985. Pgs.38-39.
Kaufman, Charles F. A History of Dover Township, York County, Pennsylvania. Volumes I-III. 1961. Pgs.167-168, 285, 523-524.
Little, Flossie. Interview. January 8, 1990.
Prowell, George. History of York County. Chicago: Beers and Company, 1907.
Yungel, Lisa. Bloodroot IV. Dover, PA: Dover Area High School, 1979. Pgs.30-32.