Hanover Historic District
The Hanover Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.
The Hanover Historic District, encompassing approximately 885 acres, is located within Hanover Borough, the second-largest community in York County, Pennsylvania. Five major thoroughfares (Baltimore Street, Broadway, Carlisle Street, Frederick Street and York Street) intersect in the heart of the Historic District, a configuration that has been in place since the town's inception. Two railroads pass through its northern section. A very large proportion of its 3,036 buildings, five sites, six structures and one object contribute to the Hanover Historic District in that they are fifty years or older, retain fairly good to excellent integrity and significantly add to the District's overall historic unity. The majority of these contributing buildings are residences but there are also some commercial and industrial buildings. The central downtown area is densely filled with two- to five-story buildings, many of them attached. Most of these buildings combine commercial and residential functions. Neighborhoods surrounding this downtown nucleus are slightly less cramped and are largely residential with 2-1/2-story single dwellings and duplexes. Some streets, mostly in the north-central sector, feature large Victorian-era residences on spacious lots. These often high-style homes are usually 2-1/2 stories tall. More modern neighborhoods of smaller-scale 1-1/2-to 2-1/2-story single dwellings are located around the outskirts of the Historic District. Industrial, commercial and railroad-related buildings are located along the railroad tracks in the northern half of the District. The majority of buildings in the Hanover Historic District are either frame or brick and the predominating architecture includes the Colonial Revival and Queen Anne styles, the Pennsylvania German vernacular design and the American Foursquare form. It is common for buildings of different ages and styles to be close neighbors. Over half of the buildings date from c. 1870 to c. 1919 when the town experienced an economic boom brought on by railroad activity. Slightly less than half were built between c. 1920 and c. 1946. Very few buildings from the town's initial period of growth exist today. The majority of buildings retain good integrity and are in good condition; there are few intrusions.
The Hanover Historic District lies entirely within the boundaries of Hanover Borough, which is located in southwestern York County. The borough is centrally situated along the western border of Penn Township where the township adjoins Adams County. The Hanover Historic District comprises a little less than half of the borough's total area. It is positioned in the southeast of the borough with one western and one northeastern branch.
Built upon a level plain without any major creeks or other distinguishing topographical features, Hanover Borough sits 601 feet above sea level. The Pigeon Hills rise to the northeast of it. Two railroads, the Penn Central (constructed in 1873) and the Western Maryland (1852 and 1877), pass through and merge in the borough and in the Historic District, running chiefly in a southwest/northeast direction. The nucleus of the District is Center Square, which is made up of the intersection of five major thoroughfares-Baltimore and Carlisle Streets (or State Route 941, Broadway and Frederick Street (or State Route 194) and York Street (or State Route 116). Streets and alleys, laid out in a fairly regularly spaced network, radiate out from this core.
The largely residential Hanover Historic District is made up of a dense concentration of 3,036 buildings. Most of these (2,632) have been determined contributing; that is, they are fifty years or older, retain fairly good to excellent architectural integrity and add to the historic character of the District through style, age and function. Contributing buildings include dwellings as well as commercial and industrial buildings. The 404 buildings determined non-contributing are either less than fifty years old or are older but have poor integrity (loss of most stylistic features, alteration of doors and windows, obtrusive additions, etc.) Non-contributing buildings are found scattered throughout all areas of the District. Some are modern stores or residences that may have replaced older buildings, some are older buildings that have been drastically altered, some are modern auxiliary industrial buildings and some are houses that are not quite fifty years old, mostly located in the twentieth-century neighborhoods around the District's outskirts. Because of the small percentage of non-contributing buildings and because these buildings are interspersed haphazardly throughout the area the negative effect on the District's integrity is negligible.
With very few exceptions outbuildings were not included in the Hanover Historic District's building count, either contributing or non-contributing. Those few that were included were counted as separate entities because of their size, style and/or function. For example, the two outbuildings mentioned below are both large 2-1/2-story brick buildings that share the associated house's Romanesque Revival style. Both have been converted into office buildings. This type of outbuilding is very unusual in the Hanover Historic District. Other outbuildings included in the building count are those that have a separate function from the associated house (such as a television repair shop or auto repair garage) and are substantial in size. A carriage house, small barn or garage that has been converted into a residence or shop would also be included. Well over half of the buildings in the Historic District have at least one outbuilding. The majority of these structures are freestanding frame, brick or concrete garages and sheds, some modern. A small percentage of buildings have integral or attached garages, a carport, a very small barn or a carriage house. Only 26 houses have a summer kitchen, seven have a smokehouse and four have an outhouse.
There are five Borough-owned parks within the Historic District. They are varied: one is an eighteenth-century cemetery on School Avenue in the eastern portion of the District (approximately 16,500 square feet), two are simply natural expanses of grass and trees (approximately 36,480 square feet -- located between Pleasant Street and Spring Avenue also in the east and another parcel -- approximately 129,000 square feet -- on Pleasant Avenue in the southeast), one is a playground with an asphalt surface and play equipment (approximately 26,250 square feet -- at the intersection of Baer and Terrace Avenues in the east), and one is a formal park with a central bandstand and radiating walkways. The latter, named Wirt Park, is located about two blocks to the west of Center Square at the intersection of High, Gail and Franklin Streets and Park Avenue (approximately 62,400 square feet). All of these parks except the playground have been listed as contributing sites. The cemetery displays slate and other stone markers dating from about 1783 to the mid-19th century; many headstones are decoratively carved and are in German. The two natural parks were determined contributing since they have been in place at least since 1917 according to the Sanborn Insurance Maps of Hanover. Wirt Park was created in 1890, the land having been donated by Louisa and Henry Wirt specifically for that purpose. The playground is clearly not fifty years old so is considered to be a non-contributing site.
Six structures, three contributing and three non-contributing, have been identified within the Hanover Historic District. Those that contribute are two small brick c. 1940 natural gas pumping stations (on Ridge Avenue in the northeastern portion of the District and on Pleasant Avenue in the southeast) and a 1922 B & O Railroad freight car (in the east). The latter is permanently lodged at 112 Fulton Street, not far from the railroad tracks upon which it once rode. Its integrity is excellent and it is in the process of being restored. The three non-contributing structures include the East Hanover (electrical) Substation in the northeast (approximately 18,000 square feet) at the intersection of East Walnut and Philadelphia Streets, a 150-foot water tower also in the northeast on Terrace Avenue, and a frame and metal natural gas pumping station on Conewago Avenue in the west. All three are less than fifty years old.
There is also one contributing object in the Historic District; it is located in Center Square. A short history of the Square is necessary in order to describe this object. In 1873 a large park-like traffic circle with an ornate fountain at its hub replaced the 1815 open-sided market house that stood in the center of the intersection; the name was accordingly changed from Market House Square to Fountain Square. In 1904 the fountain was removed to Wirt Park (it was later purchased and moved away from Pennsylvania). A bronze statue of a soldier on horseback commemorating the 1863 Battle of Hanover (which took place in the Square) was erected in place of the fountain and the name was changed to Center Square. The Picket, as the statue is called, was joined by displays of cannon and other Civil War memorabilia; there was also a metal statue of a dog. When the traffic circle was removed in 1968 these artifacts and the Picket were relocated, some of them more than once. The dog, called Big Mike, now stands with the Picket on the north corner of the Square. A display of cannon and other artifacts stands on the east corner. It was enclosed in a brick and Plexiglas gazebo in 1986. Another display of two cannons was located on the Square's south corner in 1988. One further artifact worthy of mention is a 1954 marble statue of the Virgin Mary associated with the St. Joseph's Parish School, Rectory and Convent located at 236, 244 and 252 Baltimore Street about three blocks to the southeast of the Square. The Picket has been counted as a contributing object because of its age and substantial size and because it was once a part of the Center Square traffic circle. The various artifacts mentioned above have not been included in the District's resource count.
The Hanover Historic District can be roughly divided into five different segments: the downtown Center Square area, the largely residential mid-section areas, two different types of residential neighborhoods around the District's outskirts -- one type Victorian and the other twentieth-century -- and the industrial area surrounding the railroads.
Although Center Square itself is a wide open area made even more visually spacious by the addition of parking lots, the buildings in the downtown sector are compactly positioned and are often attached to each other. Most sit with their facade elevations flush against the sidewalks. The tallest buildings in the Historic District are located in this Center Square area. Several of the "cornerstone" buildings are four and five stories tall while others are 2-1/2 and three stories. The older buildings in the District are generally found in and around this central nucleus where the town first put down roots. The heaviest concentration of commercial buildings is also found in this area. The majority of downtown buildings have stores and shops on the ground floor and residences on the upper floors. All types of services and goods have been offered for sale in Center Square almost since the town's inception. Medical and professional offices as well as a number of churches are also situated here.
Further away from the heart of town, building placement becomes slightly less cramped. The majority of buildings in these largely residential mid-section areas are 2-1/2-story single dwellings or duplexes with an occasional row house. They tend to sit fairly close to one another with their facade elevations flush against the sidewalk or set back from the sidewalk only a few feet; most have small rear yards with a garage accessed by an alley. Locust, McAllister, Middle, Pleasant and Walnut Streets (allocated in the east and southeast of the District) and Centennial, Ruth and Second Avenues (all located in the south) are examples of this type of residential area. One of the most frequently found types of dwelling in these neighborhoods is a rather narrow L- or T-shaped Colonial Revival and/or Queen Anne residence. American Foursquares and Pennsylvania German vernacular houses (four-bay 2-1/2-story houses with two central front doors) stand side-by-side with these Victorian-era dwellings. Churches, schools, small businesses and local shops are occasionally interspersed with the houses.
There are two different types of neighborhoods around the outer areas of the Hanover Historic District. Large often high-style Victorian-era single residences with spacious properties are located along streets such as Carlisle, Eichelberger, Fourth, Frederick, McCosh and Stock. Most of these neighborhoods are concentrated in the District's north-central area. Early twentieth-century neighborhoods with less ornate smaller-scale houses are also found around the outer limits. These usually single residences are often 1-1/2 stories tall, have moderately sized properties and are found on Baer (located in the east), Fleming (south), Meade (south) and Potomac (north) Avenues as well as Princess and South Streets (both west), Stephen Place (north) and Young Circle (west) among others. The Colonial Revival style in all of its variations is one of the most frequently used styles in these areas. As in the mid-section neighborhoods, houses in these outer neighborhoods usually have rear garages that are accessed by an alley. Medical and professional offices, churches and schools are also found in these neighborhoods; there are few commercial interruptions.
Industrial buildings are located for the most part along the two railroads in the northern half of the Historic District. Industries, light manufacturing plants, commercial enterprises and railroad-related buildings as well as some residences are located on Factory, High, North, Philadelphia and Railroad Streets among others. Industrial building's are also found along Carlisle Street and Broadway where these major thoroughfares intersect with the railroad tracks. The majority of these industrial buildings are brick and one to four stories tall; most are two stories.
Although densely filled with buildings the Hanover Historic District does have its share of greenery. Some of its main streets as well as portions of Center Square are lined with trees and many of the outer neighborhoods display a variety of lawns, gardens, trees and shrubbery. There are also a number of small Borough-owned parks around the area as discussed above.
The majority of contributing buildings in the Hanover Historic District are either frame or brick. The town of Hanover's initial period of growth produced log dwelling's but by about 1800 the majority of houses were brick. Even though frame houses now outnumber the brick ones the Hanover Historic District still has the appearance of being largely built of brick. Log houses are rare almost to the point of non-existence today, unlike many other parts of York County. Concrete and stone were used during the early twentieth century but not to any great extent. Some original slate roofs are still intact.
Approximately 4% of all contributing buildings located within the Hanover Historic District date before c. 1870. Many of these pre-1870 buildings are vernacular in design, having no particular style. Others are either English (Georgian or half-Georgian plans) or Germanic (Pennsylvania German vernacular). The latter is the most common vernacular design in York County, typically consisting of a four-bay 2-1/2-story house usually with two central front doors. There are also a very few buildings with Greek Revival features. Most of these earlier structures are fairly austere with regard to architectural detail and most are located close to the center of town.
More than half of the District's contributing buildings date from the Victorian era; that is, from about 1870 to about 1919. The three most prominent architectural designs or styles built during this time period in the Hanover Historic District are the Pennsylvania German vernacular design and the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles. Quite often the latter two are combined on a single building. The Gothic Revival, Italianate and Second Empire styles are also represented within the District although to a lesser degree. Other styles and types from this time period include Romanesque Revival, Shingle, rowhouses (three, four or six in a row), 2-1/2-story gable-front vernacular houses and vernacular I-houses. Many of these Victorian-era buildings display quite elaborate features including patterned slate roofs, ornate cornices, Palladian windows, stained glass, rounded towers, shingled gable ends and decorative porches. The Hanover Historic District's overall appearance is strongly influenced by Victorian-era architecture because of the abundance of these buildings and their wealth of outstanding stylistic details. Victorian-era buildings are located throughout the District except in the strictly twentieth-century developments around the outskirts.
The American Foursquare, sometimes with Colonial Revival features, was the most frequently used architectural form during the c. 1920 to c. 1946 time period in the Hanover Historic District. The Colonial Revival style with all of its variations was also much used. Other architectural styles and types from this time period that are well-represented in the area are a 1-1/2-story gable-front vernacular design, Minimal Traditional (as described in A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester, pages 476-478 -- see "Major Bibliographical References"), Craftsman, Tudor and Neoclassical. Lesser-used styles include Art Deco, Art Moderne, International, Prairie (other than the American Foursquare) and a one-story hip-roof vernacular design. While most of these styles are located toward the outskirts of the Historic District, many -- especially American Foursquares -- are found in the mid-section residential neighborhoods as well.
It is not uncommon to see a streetscape in the Historic District that includes buildings from several different time periods and/or representing different architectural styles. Buildings were constructed when and where they were needed in the downtown area and also in the surrounding neighborhoods. Older buildings were frequently replaced by new ones, which is one reason why there are so few buildings remaining from Hanover Borough's initial stages of development. Today newer stores and occasional parking lots are interspersed with older store/residence buildings in the Center Square area. In the outlying residential areas c. 1935 American Foursquare homes and c. 1910 Gothic Revival duplexes may stand side by side or a c. 1890 Colonial Revival home may be next door to a c. 1920 Colonial Revival home. Half of a street may be made up of Pennsylvania German vernacular duplexes while houses on the other half may have been built in variations of the Queen Anne style. Exceptions to this practice of mixing ages and styles are small planned neighborhoods around the District's outskirts such as Stephen Place (in the north) and Fleming Avenue (in the south). In the first example, a development of Colonial Revival residences was built around a small traffic circle c. 1930. Fleming Avenue, like similar streets in the vicinity, also displays Colonial Revival homes. These were built during the 1940s. The homes in both of these examples are not identical to each other but are similar in size and form and were built during a specific time frame.
Following are examples of the different architectural styles or forms and ages of buildings located within the Hanover Historic District. Some of the examples depict important contributing resources while others, also contributing, simply illustrate an architectural style found in the District.
The two brick colonial Revival houses (100 and 104 Eichelberger Street) and one brick and frame Queen Anne/Shingle house (106 Eichelberger Street) are excellent examples of these architectural styles. This c. 1900 to 1910 streetscape illustrates one of the District's north-central Victorian-era neighborhoods. These three residences contribute significantly to the District because of their style, age and excellent integrity.
Another superior example of the Colonial Revival style is the 1905 Forney House (252 Frederick Street). This former residence, which displays particularly good interior and exterior integrity, is located on one of the main thoroughfares at a point where downtown commercial and residential buildings give way to large often high-style homes. Another is a hipped-roof version of the style with a porte-cochere. This brick c. 1915 home, now a dentist's office, is located at 113 Eichelberger Street in the District's north-central area. Both of these buildings are significant contributing resources for their style, age and excellent integrity.
The brick c. 1940 houses (127 and 129 South Forney Avenue in the southwest) represent two of the later and simpler Colonial Revival designs. There is a great deal of variety within this style in the Hanover Historic District. These two homes represent twentieth-century residential neighborhoods located around the outskirts of the District where buildings are less compactly positioned and more modestly designed. Both houses contribute to the Historic District.
Two Pennsylvania German vernacular duplexes are located in the northeast of the District on Broadway about halfway between Center Square and the furthest limits of the panhandle. This street is a major thoroughfare with mostly commercial or industrial enterprises toward the center of town and mostly residences further away from town. The brick house (674/674-1/2 Broadway), originally a single residence, was built around 1860 while its frame neighbor (676/678 Broadway) probably dates from about 1920. The Pennsylvania German vernacular design normally features two central front doors. The less typical fenestration on the frame house (a door on either side of two central windows) appears to be a fairly common characteristic in the Hanover Historic District when the house was built as a double residence. Both of these houses contribute to the Historic District.
Although built in the typical 2-1/2-story four-bay two-door Pennsylvania German vernacular design, the two frame homes (39 and 41/43 Centennial Avenue in the south) are only one room deep. These vernacular I-houses were built around 1910 and are representatives of the District's mid-section residential neighborhoods. Both houses contribute to the Historic District.
The large brick residence (261 Frederick Street) combines features from the Colonial Revival and Queen Anne styles. Originally a single home designed by the renowned J. A. and Reinhardt Dempwolf architectural firm of York City, the 1891 house has been converted into five apartments. This section of Frederick Street, located two blocks to the southwest from Center Square on the outskirts of the District, exhibits a number of substantially sized high-style Victorian-era residences. The fact that this house was designed by a prominent architectural firm as well as its age, combination of styles and good exterior integrity make it a significant contribution to the Hanover Historic District.
Prominently located at the intersection of Carlisle and Stock Streets (447 Carlisle Street), the substantial brick Queen Anne residence has a round tower. The 1903 house is an excellent example of the style as well as an illustration of the type of large high-style Victorian-era residences that exist in the north-central section of the Hanover Historic District. Another Queen Anne house (105 Eichelberger Street) is located in the same area. Built of brick around 1900, this one has a polygonal shingled tower. Both of these residences contribute significantly to the District because of their age, style and excellent integrity. There are five American Foursquares standing in a row along Stock Street. Built c. 1920, two (509 and 511 Stock Street) are frame and three (501, 503 and 505 Stock Street) have brick first floors but frame second floors. Originally these frame upper stories were shingled like that of the corner house (501 Stock Street). Residences similar to these five are found in most of the residential neighborhoods in the Hanover Historic District. Three frame c. 1920 homes are located at 4, 6 and 8 Penn Street. All of these buildings contribute to the Hanover Historic District and all are located in the north.
Three simple c. 1925 frame homes are located at 416, 418 and 420 East Hanover Street in the eastern portion of the District. Similar 1-1/2-story gable-front vernacular houses can be found in many of the District's outlying residential neighborhoods where the homes are smaller in scale and each have a small yard. The two rather plain brick and frame Minimal Traditional homes as described in A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester were built around a circular dead-end street in about 1935 (11 and 13 Young Circle in the west). Comparable houses as well as more complex examples are found in other early twentieth-century neighborhoods located around the District's outskirts. These five buildings contribute to the Historic District.
A c. 1930 brick cross-gabled Craftsman house stands at the intersection of Broadway and Wilson Avenue in the northeastern panhandle area of the District. This section of Broadway is largely residential. The house is now used as the rectory for the Evangelical Brethren Church. A Tudor style is located at 508 McCosh Street in the north). This stucco and frame home, built around 1930, represents the type of smaller-scale early twentieth-century homes found in neighborhoods around the outer limits of the District. Both the Craftsman and Tudor houses contribute to the Hanover Historic District and are significant for their age, good integrity and as examples of styles that are not very common in the District.
An excellent representative of the Second Empire style the large elaborately detailed brick house (352 High Street in the west) was built in 1894. It is conspicuously positioned in the middle of a very spacious property and is larger and more ornate than its immediate neighbors. It is a significant contributing resource in the Hanover Historic District because of its age, style and good integrity as well as because it represents one of the District's less common styles.
The Art Deco style is only rarely found in the Hanover Historic District. An outstanding example is the c. 1930 two-story Hanover Shoe store on Center Square at Broadway which displays decorative brickwork and tile. This colorful building significantly contributes to the Hanover Historic District because of its unusual style, age and good integrity.
Located at 118 Carlisle Street one block from Center Square, the brick 1896, Romanesque Revival building is now used for professional offices. Originally a residence, it has brownstone trim and two large brick outbuildings. One of these is a 1907 carriage house. The other outbuilding's original use is unknown; it has an octagonal brick smokestack. All three associated buildings are listed as contributing resources because of their style, age and good exterior integrity.
Third Street in the northwestern portion of the District (at intersection with Carlisle Street) is an unusual street because railroad tracks run down the center of the roadway. Residences on either side of the road and tracks face each other. This streetscape shows a number of different forms, styles and ages standing next to each other: L-shaped Colonial Revival houses with pedimented facade gables, four-bay Pennsylvania German vernacular houses, American Foursquares (one of them a duplex) and vernacular Queen Anne houses. All are 2-1/2 stories tall and three are brick while the others are frame. These homes range in age from c. 1900 to c. 1920. They are listed as contributing because of their styles, ages and good integrity.
A simple three-story c. 1870 Italianate building is located in the downtown area of the Historic District at 129/131 Broadway. Like so many downtown buildings, this one features two commercial enterprises on the ground floor with several apartments in the two upper stories. Although the first story has been somewhat altered, this building is listed as contributing because of its style, age and fairly good integrity.
There is a positive correlation between contributing buildings and those with good architectural integrity in the Hanover Historic District. As discussed above 2,632 (or about 87%) of the 3,036 buildings located in the Historic District have been determined to be contributing therefore indicating that these buildings have fair to excellent architectural integrity. Of the remaining 13% that have been determined non-contributing approximately one-third have been classified this way due to poor architectural integrity while the remaining two-thirds are not yet fifty years old. This means that only about 135 (or just over 4%) of all of the 3,036 buildings located in the Historic District have poor architectural integrity.
The Center Square area retains the least amount of architectural integrity. This is due to the installation of traffic lights, parking lots and modern storefronts as well as the replacement of older buildings with modern ones. One prominent corner building (1 Center Square at Carlisle Street -- the Sheppard and Myers Building) has a white terra cotta Beaux Arts facade, which is still intact beneath aluminum cladding. The original rounded facade of the building matches the facade of the separately owned building (10/12 Carlisle Street) attached to its northwest elevation; both were built in 1916. Other conspicuous "cornerstone" buildings in Center Square have fared better. There is a rounded Romanesque Revival building at 1 York Street). Now a gift store, this c. 1890 towered building was previously a butcher shop and later a telephone exchange. Attached to its rear elevation is the c. 1925 M'Calister Inn, formerly the Abbott House (9/11 York Street). Another prominent corner building in Center Square is located at 4 Center Square at Frederick Street. This 1901 high-style building, formerly Peoples Bank, also displays excellent integrity. All but one of the above examples are important contributing resources; the exception is the non-contributing Sheppard and Myers Building.
Generally speaking, the largely residential neighborhoods in the mid-section and outer areas of the Historic District retain quite good architectural integrity. Many of the alterations that have taken place over the years are fairly minor. For example, quite a few frame buildings have been covered with aluminum or vinyl siding, some window sash has been modernized and some slate roofs have been replaced with asphalt. Many houses have acquired additions. These are often located in the rear where they are the least obtrusive or on a side elevation. An example of the latter might be a side porch on a Colonial Revival house that has been enclosed to create an additional room.
Industrial buildings in the Hanover Historic District have not fared quite as well as the residential areas with regard to integrity. This is partly due to the fact that many of these buildings were enlarged by means of extensions to existing buildings and/or have been joined by new auxiliary buildings. The vast majority of associated buildings within such a complex are attached to one another by various means; few are freestanding without any connection at all to another building. An example of a significantly contributing industrial building that retains good integrity is the c. 1910 Hanover Broad Silk Works, now Tradition House Furniture (237 Ridge Avenue in the northeast). An example of a contributing industrial complex where the architectural integrity has been disturbed by modern additions is Hanover Wire Cloth at 550 East Middle Street also in the northeast. The various c. 1940 to c. 1960 additions do lessen the complex's overall integrity yet the nucleus of c. 1895 buildings is still clearly visible.
Following are some of the Hanover Historic District's most significant contributing buildings, notable especially for their excellent architectural integrity.
The Neas House, located at the intersection of West Chestnut and High Streets in the southwest, is one of the Historic District's most significant architectural assets and may quite possibly be its oldest building. The c. 1783 brick Georgian house was restored by the Hanover Area Historical Society and is now used as a house museum. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in June 1972. It is especially important because of its age, style and excellent integrity and because it was once the home of Hanover Borough's first Chief Burgess George Nace (Neas).
The twin Myers and Sheppard residences (305 Baltimore Street in the south and 117 Frederick Street in the downtown area) were built in 1912 and 1913 by two of Hanover Borough's most prominent families. Built of brick in the Neoclassical style, they display a wealth of ornate stylistic features. These mansions are two of the most high-style as well as the most widely recognized buildings in the Historic District. They are particularly significant because of their age, style and excellent integrity and because they were built and are still owned by two of the town's most distinguished families.
Another building with a high profile in the Hanover Historic District is the Eichelberger High School in the north. The central portion of the Stock Street school was designed by Reinhardt Dempwolf (a partner in York County's premier firm of architects) in 1896; the wings were added in 1931. Now used for professional offices, the brick Neoclassical school is newly restored. It was listed in the National Register in April 1995. It is especially significant because of its age, style, excellent exterior integrity and substantial size and because it was designed by a renowned architectural firm.
One of the most architecturally significant churches in the Hanover Historic District is the Emmanuel United Church of Christ (124 Broadway in the downtown area). It was constructed of limestone in 1900 and its rear polygonal brick chapel was built in 1899; both sections were designed by the acclaimed Dempwolf firm. The church's enormous rose window is particularly notable. Emmanuel Church is especially important because of its age, style and excellent integrity and because it was designed by the renowned Dempwolf architectural firm.
As befitting a town where railroads played an important economic role, Hanover Borough had a stylishly designed passenger depot. Union Station, located at 235 Railroad Street in the north-central area, was built around 1892. There are a number of other railroad-related buildings in the Hanover Historic District including a c. 1910 freight depot (Railroad Street at Park Avenue) but this brick station with its exaggerated slate roof is unique. It is now used as an insurance agency. Union Station is particularly significant because of its age, style and excellent exterior integrity and because of its unique status within the District.
The tall Neoclassical concrete and brick Bank of Hanover is located on Carlisle Street a half-block from Center Square. Formerly the Hanover Saving Fund Society, it was constructed in 1906 and is one of only two historic banks in the Hanover Historic District. It is especially significant because of its age, style and excellent integrity despite the glass-enclosed central doorway. It also serves as a very good illustration of an early twentieth-century financial institution.
There are two historic fire stations in the Hanover Historic District -- the 1914 Eagle Chemical Company in the southeast (intersection of East Hanover Street and Eagle Avenue) and the 1882 Hanover Steam Fire Engine Company in the downtown area (118 Chestnut Street). The latter was designed by the renowned Dempwolf architectural firm. The simple brick Romanesque Revival building has been converted into eight apartments. It is significant because of its age, style and good exterior integrity despite the altered main facade door. It is also noteworthy as an excellent representative of a late nineteenth-century fire station.
The Hanover Public Library (originally the Young Memorial Library) was built in 1910 (301 Carlisle Street at Library Place). The somewhat unusually designed concrete and brick Neoclassical building, which faces the railroad tracks in the north-central area, is especially significant because of its age, style, excellent integrity and unique status as the District's only public library.
The Hanover Post Office at the intersection of Broadway and Locust Street in the downtown area was preceded by at least eight other post offices, all located in different places around town. This concrete Classical Revival structure was built in 1912. Listed in the National Register in December 1992, it has now been converted into professional offices. It is particularly significant because of its age, style and excellent exterior integrity.
While the bulk of the Hanover Historic District's architectural integrity remains intact, there are a very few widely spaced modern intrusions. One is the non-contributing c. 1970 Post Office (18 High Street at West Chestnut Street in the western portion of the District), which replaced the Dempwolf-designed High Street Public School. In order to build the non-contributing c. 1975 Hanover Street Elementary School and playground (101 East Hanover Street in the east) about fourteen homes as well as the old school were torn down. Old maps of Hanover Borough show that the non-contributing c. 1960 Aero Midtown Motel and Service Center at 101 Carlisle Street one block to the northwest of Center Square replaced three large probably Queen Anne homes. There are also a few non-contributing modern apartment complexes scattered here and there around the Historic District such as the c. 1960 21-unit U-shaped building at the intersection of George, Stock and Penn Streets in the north. This one did not apparently replace any historic resource. There are a number of non-contributing industrial intrusions as well. One is the R. H. Sheppard Company. One portion of the company (38-40 Philadelphia Street at Broadway in the northeastern portion of the District) was probably built within the last ten years. Another part of the same company is located further along the same street (101 Philadelphia Street). This separate section of the company has a c. 1935 nucleus (originally the company's machine shop) and several very large modern additions. Neither of these portions of the R. H. Sheppard Company can be considered contributing since one is less than fifty years old and the other exhibits poor integrity because of its massive modern extensions. Each section has been counted as a separate resource since they stand at different locations. Another industrial intrusion in the Historic District is Penn-Mar Castings (500 Broadway at the railroad tracks and at the intersection of Penn and George Streets and the railroad tracks -- both in the northeast). The bulk of these two sections of the same company is modern but some older brick buildings are visible. These were probably part of the Fitz Water Wheel Company, the original industry on this site. Note: The Tax Assessment Map may be misleading with regard to these two sections of Penn-Mar Castings since it indicates buildings in close proximity but not attached to one another. In reality these buildings are interconnected. Each of the two complexes has been counted as one non-contributing resource. In general the majority of buildings in the Hanover Historic District are in good condition, particularly those in the Center Square area and in the mid-section and outlying residential neighborhoods. Some are just in fair condition, but only a very small number can be classified as decrepit or in poor condition. There are virtually no slums. Most residential neighborhoods are really quite well-maintained and this is one of the most attractive features of the area. Industrial buildings, mostly located in the northern section of the Historic District in the vicinity of the railroad tracks, have probably suffered in this way more than any other type of building. A number of enormous buildings and groups of buildings are being allowed to stand vacant and become dilapidated. Examples of this are the former Hanover Cordage Company, built around 1900 at the intersection of Chestnut and North Streets in the northeast, the former J. S. Young and Company (c. 1905) located between Gail Street and Park Avenue in the west and the massive 1910 Hanover Shoe building on Carlisle Street at its intersection with the Penn Central Railroad in the northwest. The latter was evidently once a complex of attached buildings but most sections in the rear on North Franklin Street have been partially demolished. Regardless of their deteriorating condition, each of these three examples has been counted as an important contributing resource.
Despite the natural changes occurring in any community over time the Hanover Historic District still retains much of its historic architectural character and appearance. This is especially so because of the large number and density of contributing buildings and other resources. There are few non-contributing resources and they are not concentrated in any one spot but are arbitrarily distributed throughout the District. The central downtown area is more heavily commercial today than it was in the past. Quite a few historic buildings that were initially built as single residences have been converted to a commercial use or into apartment houses. Often there is little exterior sign of this change. The Hanover Historic District has always been and still is largely residential. Different neighborhoods of homes occasionally interspersed with small local shops, businesses and churches abound all around the mid-section and outer areas as has always been the case. The largely industrial area in the vicinity of the railroad tracks is probably the most changed from its former appearance. Although some of these late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings are currently occupied, others are vacant and in poor condition and some no longer exist. Nevertheless the overall integrity of the Hanover Historic District is quite well-preserved.
The Hanover Historic District meets National Register Criterion A in the areas of Commerce, Transportation and Industry and Criterion C in the area of Architecture. The town of Hanover in York County, Pennsylvania was laid out in 1763 around a hub of five radiating streets which led to towns and cities in southern Pennsylvania and in Maryland (Abbottstown, Baltimore, Carlisle, Frederick and York). The Monocacy Road also passed through Hanover close to this central core. This ancient route, originally an Indian trail, was heavily used by settlers traveling from Philadelphia across York County and into western Maryland and Virginia. Because of this lucrative location at the intersection of six major public highways, Hanover became a prominent center of commerce providing goods and services to scores of travelers. In 1852 Hanover's first railroad was constructed furnishing an indirect route to York City (the county seat) and Harrisburg as well as Gettysburg and Littlestown in adjoining Adams County. A more direct line to York was built in 1873 and four years later a line connecting Hanover to Baltimore was constructed. The railroads brought further economic well-being to the town and its prominence as a trade center increased. Industries anxious to take advantage of this profitable access to outlying markets began to locate along the railroad tracks in northern Hanover. Because of this economic boom prompted by railroad activity, Hanover entered into its most prolific period of building construction during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The most commonly used architectural styles and forms include Colonial Revival, Pennsylvania German vernacular, Queen Anne and American Foursquare. The boundaries of the Hanover Historic District were selected in order to encompass the oldest portion of the town containing the highest number of contributing architectural resources. Very few buildings from Hanover's earliest years exist today; the oldest is the c. 1783 Neas House. The period of significance for the Historic District therefore begins with this date and continues to 1946.
The population of Hanover Borough has remained substantially German throughout the town's 233-year history although there has always been a small percentage of Irish or Scots-Irish. Today as in the past, most of its inhabitants are middle- to upper-class. There is very little poverty while at the same time there is a fairly high percentage of the very wealthy. Hanover Borough was never a depressed area (barring the Great Depression which affected all towns) and the economic boom created by the railroads made many of its citizens into extremely wealthy and influential people. It is still the second-largest and second-wealthiest town in York County and it has continued to grow. There were 14,399 residents living within the 3.7 square miles encompassed by the Borough in 1990 or 3,892 persons per square mile. Many new neighborhoods as well as commercial areas have been built in the last fifty years. Most recently developed is the so-called Golden Mile along Eisenhower Drive in the northern section of the Borough; this includes fast-food restaurants and malls intended to attract out-of-town visitors. These more modern developments have been excluded from the Hanover Historic District.
Hanover has virtually always been a center of commerce beginning with McAllister's Tavern back in the mid-eighteenth century. The tavern quickly became the heart of the Conewago Settlement not only as a public inn and store but as a meeting place. The streams of pioneer settlers traveling the Monocacy Road and the Hanover and Baltimore Turnpike provided a steady market for goods and services produced at the Conewago Settlement 218 Chestnut Street), Heindel Manufacturing Company (now Keystone Wire Cloth at 140 Factory Street), Beaudin Shoe Company (now Veit Furniture Corporation at 240 Factory Street), Regal Bottling Works (now Hanover Beverage Outlet at the intersection of Baltimore Street and Pleasant Avenue), Schott Furniture Manufacturing Company (vacant building on Poplar Street between High and Hoffman Streets) and more. All of these are located within the Hanover Historic District.
The architectural resources in the largely residential Hanover Historic District are varied and abundant. The vast majority of the 3,036 buildings are fifty years or older, are either brick or frame, retain good to excellent architectural integrity, are in fair to excellent condition and enhance the overall historic character of the District. The predominant architectural styles and forms are Colonial Revival, Pennsylvania German vernacular, Queen Anne and American Foursquare. Very few buildings from the town's earliest stages of development exist today. The c. 1783 Neas House (intersection of West Chestnut and High Streets) is probably the earliest. The brick Georgian house is one of the Hanover Historic District's most significant contributing resources. Around 1850 to 1860 many of the town's original log dwellings were torn down and new homes of brick or frame were built in their place. One of these "new" brick houses is at 112 Broadway. The c. 1860 duplex was originally a single residence. Over half of the buildings in the Historic district were constructed between c. 1870 and c. 1919 when the town experienced an economic boom created by railroad activity. Some of the District's most significant architectural resources were built during this important time period in the town's history. Examples of some of the large high-style residences that were built during this economic expansion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are the 1894 Second Empire house (352 High Street), the 1903 Queen Anne house (447 Carlisle Street) and the 1913 Neoclassical H. D. Sheppard House (117 Frederick Street). Other nonresidential illustrations of Victorian-era buildings in Hanover are mentioned above in connection with Commerce, Transportation and Industry. Around the outskirts of the District are a number of strictly twentieth-century neighborhoods. Examples of these later houses include the c. 1920 row of five American Foursquares (501-511 Stock Street) and the two c. 1940 Colonial Revival houses (127 and 129 South Forney Avenue).
Many of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century high-style residences and public buildings in the Hanover Historic District were designed by architects or by imitation of buildings published in architectural journals. For example, the c. 1890 rounded triangular building at the intersection of York and Railroad Streets in downtown Hanover was modeled after the Flatiron Building in New York City. The Dempwolf Brothers, York County's premier architectural firm, designed a number of notable buildings in the District including the 1891 Colonial Revival/Queen Anne residence at 261 Frederick Street, the 1896 portion of Eichelberger High School on Stock Street at McCosh Street, the 1899-1900 Emmanuel Church at 124 Broadway and the 1882 Hanover Steam Fire Engine Company at 118 Chestnut Street. The Hanover Historic District contains architectural resources that are every bit as high-style as those in the York City National Register Historic District (listed in 1979).
Hanover Borough is unique in York County. In size and population it is second only to York City; it is far larger than any of the other boroughs. In comparison to the other 35 boroughs in the county it appears to be a small city rather than a town. Hanover is distinctive for a number of reasons. Hanoverians are still largely of German heritage as they have been since c. 1730. They are also largely middle- to upper- class; there is very little poverty. This again has always been the case. This town never knew a local depression but has always grown and prospered. The railroads, although not as active as they once were, have not deserted Hanover unlike most other railroad boroughs in York County. There are no passenger lines but freight shipping continues on a regular basis. The Victorian/railroad era from the late nineteenth through the other brought increased economic wealth to Hanover Borough. By the 1890s Hanover's railroad facilities, both passenger and freight, were second to none. A number of railroad-related buildings exist in the Historic District today although most are vernacular often vacant warehouses or similar buildings. The c. 1910 Western Maryland freight depot still stands at the intersection of Railroad Street and Park Avenue. Union Station, one of the District's most significant contributing buildings (235 Railroad Street), was Hanover's passenger depot.
Leather tanning, cigar making, the manufacture of gloves (Hanover Glove Company still exists today -- 2 Exchange Place) and particularly carriage building had been the prominent industries in Hanover prior to the construction of the railroads. With the coming of the railroads in 1852, 1873 and 1877 the town moved into an industrial boom. Transportation of goods and materials was easier and faster with the railroads. Also more and larger markets became accessible and a wider range of commodities became available. Enterprising businessmen began to locate their industries in the vicinity of the railroad tracks particularly during the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries. These industries included Hanover Shoe (vacant building on Carlisle Street at the railroad), Hanover Broad Silk Works (now Tradition House Furniture at 237 Ridge Avenue), Hanover Wire Cloth (550 East Middle Street), Long Furniture Company (now McClarin Plastics and Swam Electric Company at 320 Maple Avenue and 490 High Street), Smith Lyraphone Company (now part of Oxford Innovations at 5 Commerce Street), Hanover Cordage Company (vacant buildings at the intersection of Chestnut and North Streets), J. S. Young and Company (vacant buildings between Gail Street and Park Avenue), Fitz Water Wheel Company (now Penn-Mar Castings at 500 Broadway), Mummert-Dixon (now Cam Industries at 215 Philadelphia Street), Revonah Spinning Mills (now S & S Warehouse and R. H. Sheppard Company between the railroad tracks southwest of Center Street), C. Moul and Company (now Conewago Supply Company at as well as a constant source of news and ideas. In 1763 Richard McAllister greatly enhanced the area's already profitable location by connecting the Hanover and Baltimore Turnpike with roads leading to and from Abbottstown, Carlisle, Frederick and York. Laying out a town around a nucleus of five major through routes with another main public highway in close proximity could hardly fail to make the town one of the most prominent centers of commerce in the area. By 1800 Hanover was second only to York City in size and wealth (within York County). In the few years following the turn of century its tradesmen included shoemakers, wagonmakers, tailors, carpenters, weavers, blacksmiths, manufacturers of chain, cigarmakers and one organ builder among others. In 1815 an open-sided Market House was built in the center of the main intersection; it was used until 1872. Most stores in the town were located on the first floor of a multi-story building; often the merchant and his family lived upstairs. This space-saving configuration is still the norm today although the upstairs occupants are not necessarily the owners of the stores below any more. Some of these residences have been converted into professional offices. Two typical examples of this combination of store and residence are 129/131 Broadway, formerly Abbottstown Street and 10/12 Carlisle Street. The vast majority of downtown commercial buildings have this layout. Shops and businesses in the outer neighborhoods surrounding the older downtown area tend to be individual buildings.
A fresh surge of economic well-being occurred in Hanover with the building of the railroads. The first was the 1852 line to York and Harrisburg, the county and state seats. It was later extended to Gettysburg and Littlestown in Adams County. Although a somewhat indirect route this railroad greatly increased the amount and variety of goods and materials available to Hanover's inhabitants and it also provided them with new markets for their own products. A more direct route to York was built in 1873 (Penn Central). Probably the most important railroad in Hanover's history was constructed in 1877 by merging other already existing lines including the 1852 Hanover Junction/Hanover and Gettysburg line. This railroad (Western Maryland) provided a direct line from Hanover to Baltimore more than any early twentieth century produced quite a large number of extremely wealthy people. Ambitious businessmen saw their opportunity to make millions from various industrial and railroad-related enterprises. The immense Colonial Revival and Queen Anne mansions that are located around the District's outskirts, particularly in the north-central area, were built by these tycoons as expressions of their social status and prominence. Many of these buildings were architect-designed. Nowhere else in the county besides York City are such elaborate high-style residences found. The density of architectural resources also set the Hanover Historic District apart from other boroughs.
It seems appropriate to say that Hanover Borough is simply a small York City but that would not be completely true. Certainly it is similar with regard to its designation as a prominent center of trade, both past and present. Hanover's highways and railroads were and still are just as important to the county's transportation network as those in York. Industries have changed in both communities but both continue to be prolific manufacturers of a wide range of products. And both Hanover and York are fortunate to retain a great deal of historic architectural character. But where York has a varied combination of ethnic backgrounds among its citizens, Hanover's inhabitants are still largely German as they have been for over 200 years. Where York has a certain amount of poverty and inner-city slums, Hanover has remained mostly middle- to upper-class with little poverty and quite a bit of wealth. Hanover's insularity and affluence combined with the other characters discussed above set the town apart from any other community in York County.
1996 York County tax records, York County Courthouse, York, Pennsylvania.
Gibson, John. History of York County Pennsylvania. Chicago: F. A. Battey Publishing Company, 1886.
Hanover Centennial Committee, The. Official Program of the Centennial of Incorporation of the Borough of Hanover Pennsylvania Together With Historical Sketches. Hanover: 1915.
Informal interviews with various Hanover residents (names unknown) from July 1995 through March 1996 by B. Raid, Historic Sites Surveyor for Historic York, Inc. during survey to identify architectural resources in the Hanover Historic District.
Insurance Maps of Hanover. York County. Pennsylvania 1886-1936. New York: Sanborn Map Company.
Map of York and Adams Counties. Pennsylvania: Small, D. & Wagner, W., 1821.
Nichols, Beach. Atlas of York Co. Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Pomeroy, Whitman & Co., 1876.
Prowell, George R. History of York County, Pennsylvania. Chicago: J. H. Beers & Company, 1907.
Rebert, Bruce. Commemorative History of Borough Affairs. Hanover: Hanover Borough Bicentennial Commission, 1976.
Shearer's Map of York County Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: W. O. Shearer and D. J. Lake. 1860.
Shermeyer, Mark D. Ongoing research (c. 1981 to present) on J. A. and Reinhardt Dempwolf architectural firm of York City. Information is presented in the form of a directory of built projects listed by locality; it provides such statistics as address, date built, construction materials, architectural style, function, brief history, etc. Research has been compiled from original Frederick Dempwolf list of projects (list located at the Historical Society of York County in York, Pennsylvania) as well as other HSYC files and interviews with private individuals.
York County Planning Commission, The. 1996 York County Directory of Public Officials. York, 5/8/96.