Pleasureville Historic District
The Pleasureville Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. 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 Pleasureville Historic District is located approximately 2 1/2 miles northeast of York in Springettsbury Township, between Codorus Creek and the ridge of hills north of the York Valley. The rolling landscape is dotted with wooded ridges and hills, many of which have also been recently developed, A small, unnamed tributary to Codorus Creek heads northwards out of the center of the historic district. Beginning as a crossroads community at the intersection of N. Sherman Street and Pleasant View Road in the mid-19th century, Pleasureville continued to grow south and east along N. Sherman Street and on several intersecting roads into the early 20th century. Linear in form, the district extends about two-thirds mile along N. Sherman Street from Cherry Lane eastward to Park View Road. It is surrounded by mid-to-late 20th century residential subdivisions scattered with 19th century farmhouses, with the earliest suburban development to its south along North Sherman Street. During the mid-20th century, the entire area from the historic district south to US Route 30 became known as Pleasureville. As the mid-20th century residential neighborhood along North Sherman Street south of the 19th century village contains a mix of building stock dating between 1930 and 1990, and encompasses several small 19th century crossroads, this part of what is now known as 'Pleasureville' is not included in the historic district.
Resources in the Pleasureville Historic District include 129 buildings and one cemetery. Almost all of the buildings are dwellings and their associated outbuildings. Most are located along either side of North Sherman Street, with a dense concentration between Pleasant View and Sheridan Roads. Located on the street, primary resources include the cemetery, dwellings, two public buildings and two former businesses. Pleasureville's 19th century church was rebuilt in 1952 and is not included in the historic district Most of the secondary buildings, all domestic outbuildings, are located to the rear of the lots. The majority of the buildings throughout the district date between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. The few post-1950 buildings are dwellings and modern garages. The buildings in Pleasureville sit back from the roadway approximately 10 to 15 feet. Lots or parcels along N. Sherman Street are deep and narrow, while those on intersecting streets are somewhat wider or shallower in shape.
The historic district consists primarily of mid-19th to early 20th century dwellings (72 total). Several of these are secondary dwellings sitting behind the principal building on the lot The remaining primary resources include: a cemetery dating between 1860 and 1930; a c. 1870 former school house (now a duplex); a c. 1875 meeting hall; a circa 1860 former store and accessory shop (now dwellings); a c. 1930 small industrial shop. Contributing secondary resources are domestic outbuildings and include: 3 summer kitchens, 4 privies, 1 barn, 2 carriage houses, 3 workshops, and 15 early-to-mid 20th century garages. Architectural styles represented in the historic district include Pennsylvania German Vernacular (22%), Greek Revival (1%), Italianate (10.5%), Gothic Revival (2%), Colonial Revival (9.5%), American Foursquare (3%), and Bungalow (3%). The remaining buildings are vernacular dwellings and domestic outbuildings or 20th century commercial/industrial buildings and outbuildings lacking architectural style.
Two-story 19th century vernacular dwellings dominate the streetscape. These primarily single-family detached houses are 3 to 4 bays wide and of frame construction with stone foundations, side-facing gable roofs covered with asphalt shingles or standing seam metal roofing, half-to-full width front porches, and double-hung windows. Many have rear 'ell' additions. Most are of the Pennsylvania German Vernacular style often with double front doors and lacking a central hallway. Italianate influenced decorative detailing is found on many of these dwellings including: fancy bracketed cornices; pedimented door and window surrounds with machine-cut decoration; and several intact porches with turned posts, brackets, and machine-cut balustrades. Many of the porches were replaced during the early 20th century, as evidenced by their tapered columns and piers. The majority have modern vinyl, aluminum or asbestos siding, and many have replacement windows, and/or modern porches with poured concrete decks and metal or pressure-treated wood posts and railings. Good examples of this typical dwelling in the Pleasureville Historic District include the following: the c. 1870s duplex at 2681-2683 N. Sherman Street, a two-story frame dwelling with a stone foundation, gable roof with shallow dentiled box cornice, 6-over-1 windows, and full-width front porch with square tapered columns; the c. 1875 house at 2507 N. Sherman Street, a four-bay, frame two-story dwelling with stone foundation, gable roof with cornice returns, 2-over-2 windows and double front doors, and Italianate bracketed cornice and window surrounds; and the c. 1885 Gothic Revival house at 2584 N. Sherman Street, a German plan four-bay two-story frame dwelling with stone foundation, gable roof with cornice returns and centered front gable and pointed attic window, 1-over-1 wood windows with plain surrounds, and columned front porch.
In addition, there are nine 1 1/2 story 19th century vernacular dwellings in the historic district. Although similar to the two-story examples, they lack Victorian decoration. Three are of stone construction and date to between 1825 and 1835. The earliest extant resources in the historic district, these dwellings represent the group of farms on which the village developed. None of these properties retain their 19th century domestic out buildings or farm structures. The best preserved is at 2579 N. Sherman Street. This c.1830 three-bay stone dwelling has a two-story frame addition that rests on a stone foundation. Both sections have asphalt-shingled gable roofs with shallow boxed cornices. Although the dwelling has a modern dormer, front porch and numerous replacement windows, several 6-over-6 windows remain.
Two frame 1 1/2 story buildings at 2543 North Sherman Street date to c. 1859 and are currently used as residences. One sits on the street with the second behind the first. Housing Emanuel G. Keller's store from 1860 through the first decade of the 20th century, the front three-bay building has a rubble stone foundation, side-facing gable roof with asphalt shingles and scrolled barge board, 6-over-6 windows and a modern concrete full-width porch. Very similar to the former store, the rear building has a standing seam metal roof with open cornice and several replacement windows on its front elevation. E. G. Keller also owned the two-story dwelling to the east, and the rear dwelling may have been used as an accessory building to the store throughout the 19th century.
Although Pleasureville reached it full physical size during the 19th century, the historic district includes 18 dwellings dating to the first three-and-one-half decades of the 20th century. Concentrated at the west end of the district most were built on small lots between 19th century dwellings and several are replacements for earlier dwellings. They represent multiple styles popular between 1915 and 1935 including Colonial Revival, American Foursquare and Bungalow. Similar to the 19th century buildings in the historic district, the majority have modern vinyl or aluminum siding, and many have replacement windows, and/or modern porches with poured concrete decks and metal or pressure-treated wood posts and railings. The best preserved is the c. 1920 American Four Square dwelling at 2553 North Sherman Street. The frame two-story dwelling has a hipped roof, poured concrete foundation, 3-over-1 windows, Craftsman 9-pane front door with side lights, and a full-width front porch with battered columns on piers. Two c.1925 Dutch Colonial Revival duplexes are located at 2514-2526 North Sherman Street. The once identical two-story frame dwellings have gambrel roofs, concrete block foundations, and modern porches. Commercial buildings from the 20th century include a small one-story frame dwelling barber shop at 2491 North Sherman Street and a one-story concrete block shop/commercial garage on North Sherman Street.
There are two 19th century public buildings in the Pleasureville Historic District. Converted to a duplex during the 1930s, the c. 1870 Greek Revival school house is situated at the east end of town at 2685-2687 North Sherman Street. The two-story three-bay building is of brick construction with plain brick pilasters separating the window bays. Its side-facing gable roof has cornice returns and is covered with asphalt shingles. During its conversion to a duplex, the central door opening was bricked in and replaced with two front doors, a full-width front porch with square tapered columns was added, and new 1-over-1 wood windows were installed. The village's meeting hall is located several lots west of the school at 2669-2671 North Sherman Street. Now used as apartments, the building was built by the Pleasureville Relief Association after April 1875 and used for meetings, band practice, a community center, and related activities into the 1960s. The three-story frame building is six bays wide, rests on a stone foundation, and has a side facing gable roof with cornice returns, and 6-over-6 wood windows on the third story. Recent alterations including vinyl siding, replacement windows, and porches may have obliterated any decorative detailing on the building.
The Pleasureville Cemetery is located at North Sherman Street and Sheridan Road. This United Brethren cemetery contains 72 marked graves dating between 1865 and 1929. There may be additional unmarked graves; a survey in 1932 found 98 graves. Surrounded by a chain link fence, it contains primarily marble tablet-shaped headstones and several marble Gothic pillar headstones. Three of the historic graves have modern markers and there is one modern grave in the graveyard. The cemetery shares a tax parcel with the United Methodist Church, which was built in 1952 to replace the circa 1860 United Brethren Church at the site. The cemetery is included in the historic district while the church is excluded due to its age.
Summary and Integrity
The Pleasureville Historic District contains a combination of residential, commercial and public resources which help illustrate the development of Pleasureville as a locally important rural crossroads community between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. The setting and character of the community has not changed since its period of significance, and the surrounding suburban development visually distinguishes the historic district from its surrounding landscape. Although many of the contributing buildings have received modern embellishments, such as new siding, windows and porches, these changes do not detract from the district's integrity of design, workmanship or feeling. The limited number of non-contributing resources (24 out of 130 or 18%) and their physical separation from each other do not affect the district's ability to convey its historic significance. Overall, the Pleasureville Historic District retains integrity and reflects its local importance as a commercial, social and educational center for surrounding farms throughout the mid-to-late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Pleasureville Historic District is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for commerce, due to its role as a local commercial center for the surrounding agricultural region, and under Criterion C for architecture, as a good example of a small rural village in York County. Its period of significance, circa 1825 to circa 1940, begins with its first houses and ends with its change from a rural village to a suburban community. The Pleasureville Historic District is Springettsbury Township's best preserved 19th to early 20th century rural village. No other hamlet in the township contains as intact a concentration of mid-19th to early 20th century residential, public and commercial buildings.
Located about 2 1/2 miles northeast of the city of York, the village of Pleasureville was originally part of York Township, becoming part of Spring Garden Township when it was formed in 1822, and then part of Springettsbury Township in 1891. It is located at the west end of a valley approximately 14 miles long bounded on its southern edge by the ridge of hills that form the northern edge of the York Valley. Over half of the land in the valley had been claimed in 1804 when agent John Coates received patents for all of the parcels in the west end of the valley. By the mid-19th century, this valley had been densely settled by a mix of people of Scotch-Irish, English and German ancestry. Many of the settlers were Pennsylvania Germans from further east in the state. At this time, the site of the future village at the west end of the valley contained only a handful of houses, several of which remain, and was surrounded by farmland and forest. Families that lived in the area included Miller, Sipe and Billet.
The village developed during the second quarter of the 19th century at an intersection along Diehl's Mill Road, beginning as a collection of widely spaced residences, including small farmhouses. Now N. Sherman Street, Diehl's Mill Road had existed for over 70 years, leading from the east side of York City northwards to the village of New Holland. Situated on a well-traveled road approximately two miles from the nearest town, the fledgling community attracted local commerce meeting the needs of the surrounding farm community. In its early days when it contained only a few houses, the village was called Possomtown after a resident coon hunter. By mid-century it had been renamed Pleasureville. This name may have come from the name of one of the area's early farms, Mount Pleasant, established around 1795 by the Irwin family.
Residents of Pleasureville during this period of growth were primarily farmers and tradesman, including Daniel Billet, Sophia Miller, Zachariah Miller, Tobias Sipe, John Sipe, and Dr. George Conn, a physician known for his homeopathic treatment for cancer. Wealthy farmers and millers of the surrounding area owned buildings in the village which probably functioned as retail establishments for their goods. These included farmers Samuel Hively and Philip Williams and millers L. H. and Z. K. Loucks. In 1859, Emanuel G. Keller purchased land in the village and built a general store, which he operated into the 20th century. Shoemaker and carpenter George Sipe also moved to the developing community during this period. Organized several years earlier, the United Brethren Church (now the Pleasureville United Methodist) was built in 1859. Called the Sardis Church, the congregation had formerly met in Dr. Conn's house down the street. By 1860, Pleasureville was large enough to be called out on Shearer & Lake's Map of York County, which shows 20 buildings in the village, although more probably existed at the time.
Pleasureville continued to grow through the end of the century. As shown on Nichols' 1876 atlas map of Spring Garden Township, it included at least 51 buildings. In addition to the aforementioned E. G. Keller's store, the village now included a blacksmith shop, Dr. Corn's office, the United Brethren Church, and a school house. The two-story Pleasureville school was constructed circa 1870, and contained both primary and secondary classrooms. Prior to its construction, students had attended one of two schools located within a mile of the village. The village also contained a meeting hall. Used for various activities including public meetings, practices of the Mt. Zion Band, and secret society functions, it was built circa 1875 by the Pleasureville Relief Association. Although little is known about this group of Civil War veterans which formed around 1871, they organized the village's Memorial Day Celebration, which continues to this day. In 1886, Pleasureville had a population of 300 and contained 63 houses, three stores, a blacksmith shop, a shoe-making shop, and four cigar making establishments. All of these businesses were home-based, cottage industries, and many of Pleasureville's residents walked over two miles to work in the factories of York City and its eastern suburb Frystown during this period.
At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, a post office was established at Pleasureville. Called Springett, it covered all of the northwest portion of the newly formed Springettsbury Township centering on the village of Pleasureville. During the time of its operation, the village was often referred to by the name Springett. By 1911, the post office had been closed and replaced with rural home delivery based out of York City. Several prominent citizens of the area lived in Pleasureville during this period including Amos Inners, a blacksmith, and Michael Sipe, a carpenter and watch repairer who owned several properties in the village. Many members of the Sipe family were carpenters and may have constructed many of the buildings in the historic district. By 1907, the village and its immediate vicinity had a population of 500 and contained over 100 dwellings, several cigar factories, E. G. Keller's store, and a second store operated by Charles Frey. Michael Sipe's son Alvin, one of the village's cigar makers, served as postmaster.
During the first three decades of the 20th century, the village of Pleasureville saw little change. Several new dwellings were constructed at the east end of town, but the size and scale of the community did not change. Development of suburban neighborhoods began south of Pleasureville during the 1920s, forever changing the rural and agricultural character of the surrounding landscape. Residents of the now primarily residential village continued to work in York City and by the end of this period, conducted all of their business there as well. Automobiles made travel to and from the city easy and convenient, and brought an end to the commercial role of Pleasureville. By 1929, the two-room school house had been replaced with a four room school located south of the historic district. Pleasureville grew during the 1940s with the development of subdivisions abutting the earlier village to its north and southwest. As these and other residential neighborhoods developed during the mid-20th century, the area known as Pleasureville grew to include the new suburbia to the south. Pleasureville had rapidly changed from a rural commercial center to a York City suburb over several decades.
Historic Context — Commerce
The Pleasureville Historic District was a small center of commerce and social activities between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. Situated on well-traveled road that led northeast from York City, the village became a central location for farmers searching for goods and services and a local market for their products. It also developed as a residential community within walking distance of jobs located in the nearby larger communities of Frystown and York City, as well as in cottage industries in the surrounding farms. Due to this geographic placement, Pleasureville served a very small surrounding rural neighborhood, and therefore, never had more than several stores, shops, professionals, and cottage industries at any one point in time. In addition, Pleasureville served as the educational and social center for this neighborhood, housing the school and a meeting hall. One of the area's three churches, the United Brethren Church, was located in the village as well. These related activities brought people into the village, exposing them to its various commercial enterprises. Similar to most York County villages, Pleasureville had several cigar manufacturing establishments, which processed locally grown tobacco into a marketable product. These were probably small scale, yet highly profitable, business, conducted in summer houses and other out-buildings, as was common throughout York County during the 19th century. Until the introduction of the automobile in the 20th century, the village continued to be a vital resource to the surrounding rural community.
Buildings that housed Pleasureville's stores, shops and various cottage industries between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries have been altered for use as residences, making identification of their specific locations difficult. However, several of the commercial and related resources that convey Pleasureville's significance remain in the historic district. E. G. Keller opened the first store in the village (2543 N. Sherman Street), continuing its operation until his retirement over 50 years later. Two 20th century commercial buildings are intact; the circa 1930s barber shop (2491 N. Sherman Street) and a circa 1930s commercial garage/shop (adjacent to 2565 N. Sherman Street). The community's school house (2685-2687 N. Sherman Street) and meeting hall (2669-2671 N. Sherman Street) are both intact at the east end of the historic district. Although the church has been replaced with a modern building, its cemetery is intact at the center of the village. It is unlikely that any of the cigar manufacturing establishments are intact, as few 19th century outbuildings remain.
Historic Context — Architecture
A village centered at a crossroads and primarily linear in shape, the Pleasureville Historic District is a collection of mostly dwellings dating to the last half of the 19th century or the early 20th century. These resources are generally designed in the vernacular tradition, and for the most part, are not individually distinctive. Most are quite plain, with limited architectural detailing influenced by of one or more architectural styles popular at the time of their construction. Many of the dwellings are Pennsylvania German in plan, including several examples dating to the early 20th century. The earliest dwellings in the historic district date between 1825 and 1860. Most of these are 1 1/2 story vernacular dwellings that lack decorative detailing. Even the public buildings in Pleasureville are quite plain. The meeting hall (2669-2671 N. Sherman Street) stands out as the only three story building in the district, but the vernacular structure has no style. The school house (2685-2687 N. Sherman Street) is architecturally distinctive as the only brick building in the village, but it too is rather plain, its original decoration limited to brick pilasters separating the bays. The vernacular tradition shown in the Pleasureville Historic District is reflective of the building traditions of its culturally conservative and homogeneous population, common throughout York County. The village retains its late 19th to early 20th century layout, size, massing and character. There are few non-contributing primary buildings, and these share the same scale, lot size, and setback as the contributing buildings, blending with the historic streetscape. Together, the individually unimpressive buildings reflect the history of the village and its role to the surrounding agricultural neighborhood.
Historic Context — Other small Villages in the Surrounding Area
Similar to Pleasureville, other small communities in and near Springettsbury Township had businesses that catered to the surrounding farming neighborhood. The 19th century community of 'The Glades,' located one mile east of Pleasureville, housed a store, post office, school, and several late 19th century dwellings at its central intersection, with scattered dwellings and farmsteads in the surrounding countryside. Its building stock also is primarily vernacular, with a several Victorians and Bungalows. Although similar in economic function, it never grew into a real village, probably due to its proximity to Pleasureville. The village of Stony Brook is located at a former railroad stop on PA 462 (formerly US 30 and the Wrightsville Turnpike). The small, linear village contained a store, post office, coal yard and warehouse, and approximately 20 dwellings. Although much smaller than Pleasureville, it was also the center of commerce for its surrounding rural neighborhood as well as railroad passengers. It has similar building stock to Pleasureville, although lacking mid-19th century examples. Its integrity has been compromised by the realignment and widening of the highway during the mid-20th century. Longstown, located on Springettsbury Township's border with York and Windsor Townships, was a small crossroads community during the last three decades of the 19th century. Once containing two stores, two blacksmith shops, a carriage and wagon shop, a church and several dwellings, it too served as the commercial center for the surrounding farms. Most of the buildings in Longstown have been replaced by modern buildings, including mini-marts and office buildings.
Pleasureville was the only village of its size in Spring Garden and Springettsbury Townships during the last half of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. Other much smaller crossroads communities served an economic, religious, and/or educational service to the surrounding farms, but none gained the size of Pleasureville. Historically, few commercial centers of any size were necessary, due to the area's proximity to York City and its suburbs and the economic competition they generated. Over the past two decades, the area has been heavily developed, often with detrimental effects to its historic resources. Therefore, the Pleasureville Historic District is the best example of a crossroads community in Springettsbury Township. In addition, few similar communities in York County have been recognized for their significance as small, yet locally important commercial and social centers.
The setting and character of the Pleasureville Historic District have changed little since its period of significance. Its collection of mid-19th to early 20th century buildings reflect its role as a small but important commercial and social center. Although it has been engulfed by modern suburban development, the village's appearance has changed little. Its vernacular building stock is reflective of local building traditions during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries and its layout is common of rural development patterns during this time. The Pleasureville Historic District is one of only a handful of 19th through early 20th century resources still extant in Springettsbury Township and it is the most intact and reflective of its history.
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