Springdale Historic District
The Springdale Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. 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 Springdale Historic District is a residential neighborhood developed in the early half of the twentieth century, located in the City of York, York County, Pennsylvania. The Springdale Historic District, approximately fifty-five acres in size, contains one contributing site and 283 buildings, mostly private residences and their associated outbuildings, forty-seven of these are non-contributing. Thirty-seven buildings were previously listed in the National Register of Historic Places as contributing resources of the York Historic District. These thirty-seven buildings and an additional non-contributing building appear in the resource inventory but have been excluded from Springdale's resource count because they are already included in the National Register as part of the York Historic District. The Springdale Historic District resource count includes 199 contributing buildings, 47 non-contributing buildings, and one contributing site. Contributing resources are described as those with a date of construction that falls within the historic district's period of significance (c.1888-1950), that have architectural integrity and that add to the historic character of the district through style, age and function. In the entire Springdale Historic District, there are 171 single-family residences, two multiple family residences, 102 outbuildings or garages, five commercial buildings, and three religious-related buildings. Architectural styles common in Springdale include Colonial Revival, Neoclassic Revival, Tudor Revival, French Eclectic, Italian Renaissance, Spanish Eclectic, Prairie, and Craftsman, reflecting the primary period of development from 1920 to 1950. Most of the houses display a combination of styles rather than one particular type. Surrounding Springdale are historic city neighborhoods comprised of contiguous rowhouses or densely sited duplexes to the north and east, a low-density neighborhood with large single-family residences to the west, and commercial development to the south. The cohesive neighborhood retains its integrity as the majority of its architectural components and its planned streetscape are intact.
Located along the southeastern boundary of the City of York and Spring Garden Township, the boundaries of the Springdale Historic District extend east to west from South Queen Street to South George Street, and north to south from Lombardy Alley to Rathton Road. It is made of twelve streets and ten alleys, most of them virtually straight and laid out in regular grid pattern along two major alignments. West of Newlin Road, which divides the neighborhood, the streets are aligned to South George Street. East of Newlin Road, the streets are aligned to South Queen Street. This alignment necessitates several roads to slightly curve as they travel through the development, including East Springettsbury Avenue, and Arlington, Merion and Springdale Roads. Both Newlin and Rathton Roads are also gently curved but to a much greater degree than the aforementioned roads as they travel the landscape. The streets running north and south were extensions of existing city streets and were incorporated into the planned development. The streets are wide with ample space for on-street parking on both sides of the street.Sidewalks are present on every street. The tree-lined streets and landscaped lots are mature and hallmarks of the development. Throughout the Springdale Historic District, the buildings are centered on their lots, with uniform setbacks from the street. The largest lots are located in the western half of the development along Springettsbury Avenue, Merion, Newlin and Springdale Roads. Most of the building lots are 150 feet deep and the lot widths vary from 40 to 150 feet wide.
To the north and east of Springdale are historic city neighborhoods comprised of contiguous rowhouses or densely sited duplexes. To the west is a low-density neighborhood with large single-family residences and to the south, commercial development. The 1929 Art Deco style York Hospital is located to the south of the Springdale Historic District. The hospital has been altered over the years and greatly enlarged with numerous additions. The neighborhood to the north of Springdale is part of the York Historic District. In 1979, the York Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a large, intact aggregate of architecturally significant residential, commercial, and industrial buildings mostly constructed from the mid-19th century to the early-20th century. Its period of significance includes the period from 1741-1929 to include the few remaining early buildings; some dating as far back as the mid-18th century, as well as some randomly sited modern buildings. The district's southern boundary is along Arrow and Rockdale Alleys. Those buildings along East Springettsbury Avenue are included within the boundaries of the York Historic District. The boundaries of the York Historic District were selected so as to include the large mansions of the neighborhood. Of the 1,118 resources of the York Historic District, 1072 contributing and 46 non-contributing, 38 buildings (not including accessory buildings, i.e. garages, which were not included in the York Historic District's resource count) are also counted as resources in the Springdale Historic District.
The Springdale's landscape is relatively flat throughout most of the development. At the southern end, the land rises to a hilltop. The York Hospital sits at the crest of the hill just outside of the boundaries of the Springdale Historic District. Traffic within the majority of the development is local and slow moving. South Queen Street, South George Street, and Rathton Road are major through-routes both into and out of the City of York and are heavily traveled. Four-way stop signs are posted on the major intersections of East Springettsbury Avenue and in other sections of the neighborhood. New curb extensions were installed in 1999 at the intersection of South Queen Street and East Springettsbury Avenue as well as at South George Street and East Springettsbury Avenue in efforts to slow automobile traffic. At the intersections of East Springettsbury and South Duke Street and East Springettsbury and Arlington Road, two traffic circles were constructed in 1999 to further slow traffic. Each circle is ten feet in diameter and is centered in the intersection. The circles are constructed as a raised bed of planting with concrete curbing along the circumference.
The design of the streets throughout the neighborhood created a second unique traffic feature in the Springdale Historic District. The intersection of Arlington, Newlin, and Merion Roads created a small triangular shaped lot, too small to be developed for a residence. The triangle has been maintained since the streets were constructed and incorporates a sidewalk as well as curbing. The lot is continually landscaped with flowers and small shrubs.
The resources within the Springdale Historic District have shrubbery and flower beds along the front and sides of the buildings. The majority of the lawns are professionally landscaped and include a multitude of different types of flowers and shrubs. Many have small, flowering trees, while others have mature oak, maple, or sycamore trees in their front yards. Most of these landscape features were planted when the development was constructed. Prior to that landscape was virtually treeless throughout the majority of the neighborhood, as the estate was farmed or part of a golf course.
The buildings contained within the Springdale Historic District represent a mixture of early-twentieth century period revival architectural styles, with the Colonial Revival style the most prevalent. Of the 149 contributing residences, commercial and religious buildings, 35% are designed in the Colonial Revival style or with some type of Colonial Revival decorative elements and 15% have Tudor Revival elements. Other architectural styles: Neoclassic Revival, French Eclectic, Italian Renaissance, Spanish Eclectic, Prairie, and Craftsman, are far less common, however there are examples of each. There are also 87 contributing garage outbuildings of no architectural style but which use identical materials as their respective residence. The remaining 47 buildings in the Springdale Historic District were constructed after the period of the significance. Fifteen of these buildings use some of the same architectural detailing of the other contributing houses. Seventeen of the buildings are Moderne in style or are Minimal Traditional. Fifteen are garage outbuildings constructed after the period of significance.
The neighborhood has numerous examples of the Colonial Revival architectural style. Their identifying features include a symmetrically balanced facade with a center door often with an overhead fanlight and sidelights. The windows have multi-pane glazing and are arranged in pairs or groups. Many of the buildings included flanking side wings on either one or both sides. The majority have either hipped or gabled roofs with gabled dormer windows. Many of the roofs retain their original slate material. There are formal examples of the Colonial Revival style located along East Springettsbury Avenue. These examples are typical five bay buildings with block modillion cornices. The residence at 49 East Springettsbury displays formal detailing with its brick quoins, cast stone keystone and window lintels, and projecting center gable with a broken bed pediment. Other examples of the Colonial Revival style include 142 East Springettsbury Avenue, 136 and 138 East Springettsbury Avenue and 144 and 146 Springdale Road and 125 Springdale Road. There are many variations on the style including a later c.1943 interpretation of the style at 125 Springdale Road with a second-story overhang with decorative pendants. There are also several examples of Dutch Colonial Revival residences in the neighborhood, the most exemplary is located at 101 East Springettsbury Avenue. Constructed in 1907, the three-story building is notable for its steep gambrel slate roof. The other examples are more modest in size, scale and design.
The second most prevalent style in the development is Tudor Revival. As with the variations of the Colonial Revival style, there are several different subtypes of the style throughout the development. The larger residences are large masonry buildings with multiple front gabled roof slopes. The residence at 1032 Arlington Road is an example of such a building with complex window sizes and shapes. The typical Tudor Revival residence in Springdale uses a mixture of building materials, often stone, brick, and stucco. The smaller homes located in the southern and eastern section of the Springdale Historic District, like the one at 171 Springdale Road also illustrate this use of mixed materials. The details of the style include rounded or point-rounded doors, multi-light sash, often diamond-patterned leaded glass, and decorative patterned gables. False half-timbering and patterned brickwork in the front gables are also common treatments of the Tudor Revival homes throughout the neighborhood.
The most significant Tudor Revival styled building in Springdale is the Hahn Home at 863 South George Street. Built in 1916-1918 of rough-cut stone laid in regular courses, it has parapet gables and stone balustrades along the roofline. The building has heavy stone arched door surrounds and casement window surrounds. Stone mullions divide the windows and transoms. The windows are grouped in strings of three or more, especially noticeable on the polygonal bay projecting from its west elevation (front). There are many stained and leaded glass windows throughout both the main house and its rear carriage/caretaker's house.
There are several examples of the French Eclectic Revival style within Springdale, each one showing the great variety of details within the style. The examples of the style are similar to those buildings classified as Tudor Revival, however the French Eclectic Revival examples have more formal detailing. The stucco residence at 120 Merion Road is one such example. The building has a tall steeply pitched gabled roof with flared eaves. The door is surrounded by stone quoins and there are full-length casement windows opening onto a balustraded balcony. The design, however, incorporates a central projecting cross gable more often seen in a Tudor Revival styled building. A second similarly styled example is at 144 Merion Road. This stone residence is an asymmetrical subtype with a prominent forward facing wing. The varied hipped roof massing has different roof-line heights with dormers. The entrance of the building is centered on a projecting two-storied cross-gable nestled between the two wings. There is even an example of a towered asymmetrical subtype at 133 Merion Road. The building has a center tower with its arched door, mixture of stucco, stone and half-timbering, and impressive variegated slate roof, all features indicative of the style.
Closely related to the examples of Colonial Revival in Springdale, although not nearly as prevalent is the Neoclassic Revival architectural style. One such example is the residence located at 198 Peyton Road. Corinthian columns support a two-story porch with pediment. Likewise, the First Baptist Church at 1000 South Queen Street also has a tall center portico, a trademark of the Neoclassic Revival style.
The Spanish Eclectic Revival architectural style, although rare in York County, does have two examples in Springdale. Only one of which was constructed during the period of significance. This building is located at 124 East Springettsbury Avenue. A true example of the style, the house has a stucco-covered exterior walls and a low-pitched, almost flat roof. The entrance is composed of an arched, multi-paned front door flanked by four Tuscan columns supporting a small portico roof. S-shaped Spanish tiles cover the hipped porch and the side wing's roof. Also uncommon in York County is Italian Renaissance Revival styled buildings. The few examples in Springdale are vernacular buildings with loosely interpreted Italian Renaissance Revival details. For example, the residence at 165 Irving Road uses the commonly seen arched first floor window and door with smaller and less elaborate upper-story window. The building also-uses brick belt courses and wide overhanging boxed eaves, however does not incorporate the typical hipped roof with tile covering.
The Prairie style is also common in Springdale. The examples are typical American Foursquares with a simple square plan, low-pitched hipped roof and symmetrical facade. The examples in the Springdale Historic District are constructed of brick with characteristic wide overhanging eaves. A vernacular example is found at 185 Peyton Road. This gable roof sub-type has a clipped gable front-facing cross gable with through cornice dormers. The design also displays grouped window groups with six-over-one sash, horizontal emphasis, and square porch pier supports. Similar to the Prairie examples are a few Craftsman Bungalows throughout the neighborhood. The typical one-and-a-half story residence has a gable roof with either a shed or gabled dormer. At 166 Peyton Road is one such example. The small residence also has the typical exposed rafter tails and trellised porch supported by large square piers. As with other architectural styles throughout the neighborhood, there are subtle varieties to the Craftsman examples and they are scattered throughout the neighborhood rather than grouped together in a certain area.
The former carriage house at 950 South Duke Street is the earliest extant building in the Springdale Historic District. The c.1888 carriage house is the only remaining building of the Springdale estate. Its Victorian Eclectic style is demonstrated by the steeply pitched hip roof with cross gables, cupola with weather vane, wooden shingles on the second level, knee brackets under the eaves and decorative trusses on the gable ends. The building's rehabilitation as a private residence in 1945 included a rounded enclosed porch on its northwest corner that complemented the building's unique style.
About 70 percent of the buildings in Springdale are brick or mostly brick, and approximately 17 percent are stone. Stucco follows with eight percent and frame with five percent. About one-third have slate roofs, and about the same number are one- or 1-1/2 stories tall. Approximately two-thirds are two- or 2-1/2 stories.
Most houses in the Springdale Historic District have detached garages, comprising ninety-three buildings. Eighty-six of these detached garages were constructed during the period of significance and are included in the resource count. The garages for the most part are detached, single garages located along the lots' rear boundary line and accessed from the rear alley system. The garages generally match the house in regard to construction materials and to a lesser degree form and style. Occasionally, rear additions were constructed to the residences that connect the garage to the house. Homes constructed later have attached single, double or integral garages. Many of the garages retain their original doors, some of which are hinged, double doors, and others are one piece doors, which slide on an overhead track. A few garages have had the original doors replaced with modern, overhead doors.
The Springdale Historic District is comprised almost entirely of residential properties. As the development was planned, stringent guidelines were implemented as to the type of uses within the boundaries of the development. Because of these guidelines only seven non-residential properties were constructed within the district. These commercial properties are located along the boundary streets of South Queen and South George Streets. During the period of significance, there was one church constructed, the First Baptist Church (1000 South Queen Street) and one office building constructed, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (1224 South Queen Street), within the development. Both buildings are of brick construction and are designed with styles common throughout the neighborhood. The First Baptist Church, constructed in 1927, is a Neoclassical styled building with a block cornice. The building uses bands of limestone trim and a prominent gable pediment supported by tall Doric columns. The American Telephone and Telegraph and Company, constructed in 1950, is a Colonial Revival styled building with a flat roof with a parapet. The building is constructed of brick with cast stone detailing and large arched windows set within brick corbel tables. The two contributing non-residential buildings are well-designed buildings using the same materials and designs as the other residential buildings in the neighborhood.
Nineteen percent of the buildings in Springdale were constructed after the period of significance on previously unsold lots. The majority of these are residences constructed during the 1950s. These non-contributing houses are designed using similar building materials and are later forms of same architectural styles already existing in Springdale. Many are variations of Colonial Revival style or are vernacular examples such as Neocolonial or Minimal Traditional. During that same time, four commercial properties were constructed in Springdale along the peripheral streets. Both 940 and 990 South Queen Street are modern Ranch buildings constructed of brick. These were both constructed in 1955 as physician's offices. That same year, the mansion tract was subdivided and a medical complex was constructed on the corner of South George Street and Rathton Road, 1-9 Rathton Road. This Springdale Medical Center complex is a series of inter-connected brick ranch buildings. Just north of the center is the Colonial Medical Center at 955 South George Street. This is another example of a vernacular Colonial Revival styled building and was constructed in 1957 on a subdivided lot from the main mansion tract.
There have been some changes to the contributing buildings in Springdale. Alterations have been kept to a minimum and do not detract from the overall integrity of either the resource or the district. In every instance, the alteration was professionally executed and sympathetic to the resource. The changes to the resources include the construction of rear ells, some connecting detached garages to the main residence, and enclosure of side porches creating sunrooms. Other alterations include replacement window sash or vinyl wrapped cornices. These last alterations have been kept to a minimum within the district.
There is one contributing site located within the boundaries of the Springdale Historic District. The grand mansion house of Charles Barnitz, constructed c.1823, was located on tax parcel 15-1-580-1. The mansion was significantly enlarged in the 1880s for the great-grandson of Barnitz. The mansion was demolished in 1954. A portion of the stone foundation wall and steps leading to the sunken gardens also remain, as do some of the original plantings and trees.
Summary and Integrity
The Springdale Historic District retains its integrity throughout the district. Its original appearance, barring the natural growth of trees and the modernization of the streets, is largely intact. The owners take pride in their homes and their neighborhood. The resources are in good condition and are well maintained. The vast majority of the original 1920s and 1930s buildings retain integrity and the few alterations are noticeable. As alterations to contributing resources have been kept to a minimum and were carefully designed to be sympathetic to the style of the resource and its materials, none of the buildings falling within the period of significance has been classified as non-contributing due to loss of integrity. Nineteen percent of the 284 resources in the district are non-contributing. These non-contributing buildings were built outside the period of significance and are interspersed throughout the development. Most are constructed in similar architectural styles, materials, size and scale of the other contributing resources and likewise do not detract from the district's integrity. Non-contributing resources and changes to contributing resources do not affect the district's ability to convey its period of significance.
The Springdale Historic District is locally significant or its early-twentieth century architecture and for its development as a suburban community within the City of York. The period of significance begins with a c.1888 Victorian Eclectic carriage house constructed for Springdale developer Grier Hersh and ends in 1950, the fifty-year guideline for significance in the National Register program. The residential development grew slowly beginning late in the decade of the 1900s and reached its peak of growth during the decade of the 1930s. Its architecture includes Colonial Revival, Neoclassic Revival, Tudor Revival, French Eclectic, Spanish Eclectic, Italian Renaissance Revival styles, Prairie and Craftsman styles. Springdale was comprehensively planned; the developers provided buyers with specifications on the size and cost of homes to be built. The district contains many architect-designed buildings. The Springdale Historic District provides a good example of an early twentieth century, upper, middle-class suburb that developed during the period that marked the rise in popularity of the automobile.
In 1823, Charles A. Barnitz purchased ten acres of land in Spring Garden Township just south of the city limits for the purpose of building a summer home. Barnitz, a member of one of York County's founding families, was an extremely prominent citizen. He was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate and later to the United States Congress representing both York and Adams Counties. He was legal counsel for all the heirs of William Penn in their litigation with the property holders in Springettsbury Manor. The Barnitz' ten-acre tract was located to the east of the York and Baltimore Turnpike (now known as South George Street) and extended to South Duke Street, and from Hersh Lane to Rathton Road. The home was said to have used the design of Benjamin H. Latrobe (1764-1820) and was completed in 1828. The home, no longer extant, was a one-story, five bay, gabled roof building on a raised basement. The home had a central projecting pediment supported by columns. Charles Barnitz eventually extended his property another fifteen acres to the east to what is now Newlin Road.
Over the years, Springdale grew as the descendents of Charles Barnitz purchased the neighboring farms. In 1863, Margaret Jane Hersh (granddaughter of Barnitz) and her husband, Samuel Hersh purchased an adjoining sixty-five acre Peacock Hill farm, which extended Springdale to the east to what is now South Queen Street. James Smith, the noted signer of the Declaration of Independence, previously used the farm as a summer home. The farmhouse stood at what is now the intersection of East Springettsbury Avenue and Arlington Road. When it was demolished c.1923, its bricks were used to construct a Colonial Revival residence at the same location (164 East Springettsbury Avenue). Samuel Hersh added another thirty-eight acres to the Springdale property in 1868 by purchasing the George Gotwalt farm, now the site of York Hospital. Grier Hersh, great-grandson of Charles Barnitz, fully inherited control of Springdale in 1876.
Grier Hersh became one of York's most prominent citizens. He was the president of the York Bank, the Maryland Trust Company; the Pennsylvania Banker's Association and the York's prominent Mayer family. Upon his marriage, Hersh made several improvements to Springdale, both to the house and to the property. His great-grandfather's home, no longer extant, was greatly remodeled by Philadelphia architects, Furness and Evans. Architecturally eclectic, it was converted to a stucco-covered brick mansion of forty rooms. The house had every possible amenity including an octagonal ballroom, wine and mushroom cellars, a conservatory for exotic plants and sunken gardens. A large carriage house, a coachman's house, formal gardens and a swimming pool were also constructed. Hersh also brought the game of golf to York in 1894. He constructed his own private nine-hole, par 34, golf course, which extended from East Springettsbury Avenue almost to Rathton Road and from Arlington Road to Sleepy Hollow Road. The large mansion was demolished in 1954. The carriage house and a garage building are still standing, located at 950 South Duke Street.
Grier Hersh bought a great deal more land until Springdale Farms, as the property became known, comprised about 400 acres. The property extended from Boundary Avenue in the city to Violet Hill (the small hill overlooking the Springdale Historic District). The City of York was rapidly becoming an industrial center with large businesses forming and new houses constructed for the workers. The population grew exponentially within the city limits. The City of York was quickly growing and began expanding south toward Spring Garden Township. Hersh was unable to financially support such a large house and lands, so he slowly sold off his property in sections. The majority of Hersh's land holdings in the neighborhood north of Springdale were sold by 1911. The first residential building lots he sold in Springdale were located along East Springettsbury Avenue. The lots were large and accommodated the mansions that the business leaders and industrialists desired. As the wealthy were moving to the outskirts of the city to enjoy more open space and the quiet atmosphere the suburbs could offer, the sale of lots were successful. Grier Hersh organized a land development company that could help plan and control the development of the rest of the neighborhood. Hersh, Augustus Hake, Harry Ebert, and William Dodson formed the Yorktown Land Company. City engineer, Robert B. McKinnon drew the plans for the streets for the company. On September 5, 1923, City Planning Commission of York City, Pennsylvania approved the plan of Springdale in Spring Garden Township. The plan was bounded by East Springettsbury Avenue to the north, south Queen Street to the east, Rathton Road to the south, and South George Street to the west.
Yorktown Land Company constructed the roads throughout the neighborhood, prepared the lots, and began advertising the availability of the lots. Hersh officially transferred the first nineteen acres of his holdings to Yorktown Land Company in October of 1923 for $31,000. This section of Springdale was bounded on the north by Arrow Alley, the east by South Queen Street, the south by Rathton Road, and the west by Arlington Road. The land was divided into lots and offered for sale. Their efforts were concentrated on selling the remaining lots along East Springettsbury Avenue and in the eastern section of the neighborhood. By 1927 when the City of York annexed Springdale, the development became a very desirable address for the upper-middle class of York. Between the years of 1921-1930, forty-nine residences were constructed, as was the First Baptist Church at 1000 South Queen Street. By 1940, there were a total of 121 developed lots; by 1950, 147 residences, the aforementioned church, and one business office, the American Telephone and Telegraph Office at 1224 South Queen Street.
Springdale's largest growth occurred during the years of the Great Depression, 1930-1941. In that time period, sixty-five houses were constructed. The wealthy industrialists and business leaders building and moving to Springdale were not as affected by the Great Depression as other segments of society. Also the York economy, although hit by the Depression, was able to pull itself out of the downward cycle. In 1931, York County had 5,100 people out of work. To combat the problem, the City of York began construction on a new sewer line. Private industries also began expansion programs to employ the out of work including the York Telephone Company, York Oil Burner Company, York Water Company, and A.B. Farquhar Company. A United States industry survey showed that York County trade topped $36 million in 1931, up from the previous year. So by 1932, York's jobless rate was down to 3,000. Further efforts included expansion of railroad lines, construction of the first radio station, construction of a new paper factory in York Haven and several government contracts that kept the economy stable. Louis J. Appell, a resident of Springdale, was appointed leader of the York community's National Recovery Act. His efforts brought 1,436 more jobs as well as twenty-six Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects to York, employing 6,112. York's sound economic state afforded many business leaders the opportunity to construct new houses. The economy may not have allowed the continued construction of Springdale's large mansions of the teens and twenties; however, these smaller new homes of the thirties were equipped with the latest in modern conveniences.
Grier Hersh retained the original mansion property and continued to live there with his own family. Julia and Grier Hersh had two daughters, Helen and Margaret. Julia died in 1916, and in 1926 Grier married her sister, who died shortly after his death in 1941. Hersh's will stipulated that his daughters could purchase the family estate, however neither girl was interested in buying the grand mansion house and remaining acreage. The mansion and outbuildings were sold to Charles Pechenik for $60,000. Pechenik, president of Colonial Products Company converted the Hersh carriage house into a residence around 1945 and used the large mansion house primarily as a storage facility for his company. By 1954, the mansion was in disrepair and Pechenik demolished the mansion. Eventually, more than two acres were sold for the construction of a medical center, and after her husband's death, Norma Pechenik sold the remaining property to York Hospital for $200,000. In 1999, the Unitarian Society of York purchased the site and constructed a new worship center near the foundation of the former mansion house. The carriage house is now used as an office and meeting facility for the Unitarian Society.
When Grier Hersh began developing Springdale before forming the Yorktown Land Company, he made strict considerations with each deed transfer. He specified setbacks of twenty, twenty-five, or sometimes even fifty feet from the respective street for the houses and outbuildings. He also delineated that no more than one dwelling house be constructed on any fifty-foot frontage. Race restrictions were placed on properties and manufacturing was strictly prohibited. No properties could "at any time be used for the sale of spirituous or malt liquors, livery stable, stockyard, planing mill, blacksmith shop, cut stone yard, community garage, public garage, machine shop, automobile repair or for the carrying on of any manufacturing enterprise or any business causing offensive odors or affecting injuriously the mental or physical health or comfort of persons residing in the neighborhood, or for any other purpose that would in point of law be a nuisance in a closely settled suburban locality." These restrictions, and the freedom from manufacturing plants, insured the purchaser an unspoiled neighborhood adjoining the city, the only of its kind. The Yorktowne Land Company continued these restrictions instituted by Hersh as the development grew.
In the spring of 1923, Hake and Ebert, partners with the Yorktowne Land Company laid out the neighborhood streets. The majority of the streets were extensions of the existing city streets both from the north and from the east. Several of the new streets were so named for family members or associations of Hersh. Newlin Road was named for Nathaniel Newlin, an ancestor of Hersh; Merion Road for Merion, Pennsylvania established by distant relative, Roland Ellis; Arrow Alley for an arrowhead his daughters found there. The other roads and alleys were named for friends and associates of the Yorktown Land Company. Kain Alley was named for George Hay Kain, a prominent attorney in York in the 1920s, who also lived at 45 East Springettsbury Avenue. Rodgers Alley was named after Charles L. Rodgers, Secretary of the Yorktown Land Company. Hart Alley and Cadot Alley were also named for associates. Lombardy Alley, north of East Springettsbury Avenue is an exception of this practice. It was named for the Lombardy poplars that lined both sides of the alley from Court Alley to Duke Street in the 1920s.
Yorktowne Land Company divided the development into parcels along their newly created streets. The neighborhood was marketed to members of upper and middle class professionals in York County. Prospective buyers could select any of the available lots throughout the neighborhood for the location of their home. The design and construction was left to the purchaser and their architect rather than controlled by the real estate company. Although the company had specifications on the type of the construction allowed for the neighborhood, each building was unique in design, suited the individual tastes of the homeowner. Prior to 1925, the developed lots were located along East Springettsbury Avenue, (then known as Springettsbury Place). Over the next five years, the remaining lots along East Springettsbury Avenue were the first to be sold. Later, efforts by the development company were concentrated on selling lots east of Arlington Road and finally, west of said road. However, the remaining lots were developed randomly as buyers purchased the lot of their choice. This mixture of architectural styles and construction dates creates a unique streetscape. It is not uncommon for a Colonial Revival house to be sandwiched between a Prairie and a Tudor styled residences.
Architecturally, the Springdale Historic District represents an exceptional concentration of Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival residential styles prevalent during the establishment of suburban developments along the outskirts of the City of York. Both Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival styles are the most prevalent with other examples of revival styles such as French Eclectic Revival, Neoclassic Revival, Spanish Eclectic Revival, and Italian Renaissance Revival. The majority of Colonial Revival style houses are Georgian derivatives; however there are also a few Dutch Colonial style examples.
Two of the most architecturally significant buildings in the Springdale Historic District are a Tudor Revival stone mansion at 863 South George Street (constructed in 1916 for Robert Emmerton family at a cost of 1.6 million dollars, now known as the Hahn Home) and the French Eclectic residence at 133 Merion Road (constructed in 1936 for Herbert Helb of the Keystone Brewery). The long list of other houses that are exceptionally well-preserved and architecturally significant within the district as examples of suburban residential architecture are 911 and 980 Arlington Road, 44, 101, 104, 110, 117, 124, 141, 146 and 150 East Springettsbury Avenue, 917 and 922 McKenzie Road, 110, 120, 144 and 147 Merion Road.
Several architects and builders are known to have been responsible for the design and construction of some of the houses in the Springdale Historic District. Many of the architects practiced with or came from the locally renowned architectural firm, J.A. Dempwolf Architects. John Augustus Dempwolf, started the firm in 1874. In 1882, John sent his younger brother, Reinhardt, to Paris to study architecture at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts for two years. The Dempwolf brothers' company was York's most influential and prestigious architectural firm. During their careers, they designed some 600 buildings in south central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. Their work included schools, churches, fire stations, other public buildings and many private residences. Examples of their work within Springdale include the Tudor Revival Hahn Home, 863 South George Street, the Colonial Revival residences of 101 and 142 East Springettsbury Avenue and 915 South Duke Street. Many other York architects trained with the Dempwolf Brothers' firm. As these architects gained prowess, they parted with the parent firm and started their own business. John B. Hamme and Edward Leber eventually left the firm and started their own firm of Hamme and Leber, which became rivals with the Dempwolfs. Edward Leber designed 45 East Springettsbury Avenue for his personal friend, George Hay Kain, the original owner of the house.
Robert Stair, Harry Lenker, Harry E. Yessler and William Dize all were architects within the firm. These men and the Dempwolfs designed many of the grand homes in Springdale. Robert Stair started his own business in 1905, after serving as an apprentice in the Dempwolf firm. He is responsible for the French Eclectic residences at 911 Arlington Road and 144 Merion Road. He also designed schools and commercial buildings but he specialized in domestic architecture, particularly Colonial Revival house styles. He also worked Wyndham Hills and other contemporary suburban developments. The few examples of Spanish Eclectic houses in York are attributed to the father and son team of architects, Harry E. and Russell Yessler. Russell's wife was originally from Cuba, and his interest in the style apparently stemmed from her ancestry. Although the Spanish Eclectic style is uncommon in York County as a whole, the Yesslers were responsible for the few examples present in the county and at least for one of the examples in Springdale; 124 East Springettsbury Avenue. The Yesslers undoubtedly designed other houses in Springdale although they are undocumented. They worked extensively in Elmwood, a contemporary development east of the City of York. Original blueprint drawings of the Colonial Revival residence at 141 East Springettsbury Avenue constructed in 1927 bear the seal of the architectural firm of Gemmil and Billmeyer. No information is known about the firm, however, the residence was designed for Jack Silverman, owner of the local clothing store named Jack's. It is unknown if Gemmil and Billmeyer completed designs for other houses in Springdale or in comparable suburban neighborhoods.
In addition to these documented examples of architects' work, local oral tradition maintains that many of the other houses are also architect designs. Given the vast area of decorative elements that so many of the resources possess, it is difficult to argue with the local tradition. Finally, although some of the houses in Springdale have similar characteristics as those found in pattern books of the period, there are no known specific pattern book sources for their designs.
Newspaper advertisements for the neighborhood described Springdale as the "most beautiful suburb, adjoining the city of York." The ads proclaimed easy access to the George and Queen streetcar lines (the eastern and western boundaries of the neighborhood), providing service to any part of York. It is not surprising that the neighborhood had convenient access to the streetcar system. Grier Hersh served on the Board of Directors of the York City Traction Company, the company responsible for the construction and operation the city trolley system. The lots were furnished with various other amenities. The erection of streetlights, storm water sewers, sidewalks and curbing made the development popular. Water, gas and electric service was promised to each building lot. When advertised in the York Dispatch in 1926, the lot prices were low by the day's standards and the Yorktown Land Company predicted "an increase over the present figures in value, of one hundred per cent in five years time."
Springdale was one of several suburban real estate developments begun by wealthy industrialists or professionals. As the railroad and manufacturing economy of York boomed after the Civil War, the city grew immensely. Block after block of row and semi-detached houses were built for the expanding working class. Large industrial districts developed along the railroads and Codorus Creek that ran through the city. York became a hectic, noisy, dirty place from which the wealthy sought to escape. East Market Street (the main east to west thoroughfare) was for many decades the most prestigious address in York due to its central location. As the upper and middle class were looking for new homes away from the center of the city, many wealthy land owners began establishing real estate ventures to capture this new trend. The developments began competing with one another to draw business. This healthy competition allowed each development to offer new selling points that older subdivisions could not offer.
The first of York's platted residential suburbs was what is now known as the Northwest Historic District. Laid out in 1884 and annexed to the City of York in 1900, the neighborhood is located east of the York Agricultural Fairgrounds and was originally in West Manchester Township. The development was created by the West End Improvement Company, a division of the York Bank and Trust Company and included some of the most prominent citizens in York. Numerous residences reflecting Victorian-era architectural styles and ornamentation were constructed and offered for sale or rent, and a large adjacent park (Farquhar Park) was included within the neighborhood's boundaries. Despite the pleasant park and new homes, the Northwest Historic District was too close to several large-scale manufacturing plants, the railroad, and heavily traveled roads; so it subsequently lost most of its wealthy residents to other city suburbs.
East of the City of York are two other platted residential neighborhoods that were originally advertised as outlying suburbs. Both Elmwood and East York are located east of the city boundary, the former in Spring Garden Township, the later in Springettsbury Township. Elmwood, laid out in 1903, was designed by landowner Fred Small and includes both single and double residences. The Small family purchased the 360-acre Brillinger farm, moved into the large brick mansion, and began planning the development. Their Elmwood Development Company and Elmwood Improvement Company created the neighborhood with large lots fronting on East Market Street and Elmwood Boulevard. Local architect Harry Yessler also designed many of the large homes subsequently built on these large lots including a Spanish Eclectic style house where he lived with his wife. Lots on the streets south of Elmwood Boulevard varied in size and contained houses built in the same variety of styles found in Springdale. Elmwood also had standards for the size and cost of houses to be built on the various sized lots and this, combined with street width and landscaping, makes the two developments appear very similar. Elmwood was designed with alleys between blocks, allowing access from the rear and eliminating the need for driveway cuts at the front edge of the lots. Given the size of the neighborhood, the venture eventually became sluggish and building continued sporadically through the 1970s.
East York, now the East York Historic District, also was created in 1903 but was extensively developed during the 1930s and 1940s. A Philadelphia firm called the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Company and its principal John H. Longstreet purchased a farm from Vincent K. Keesey and designed a linear development with a curving boulevard very similar to Elmwood. The development company offered gimmicks to encourage the sale of lots including a refund of streetcar fare during certain periods and a chance to be entered into a drawing of a "prize lot" to every visitor. East York is somewhat similar to Springdale although the majority of its resources are smaller single residences constructed on slightly larger lots. East York also continued through the 1970s, all of the later development was excluded from the historic district. Both East York and Elmwood were completely residential in make-up and residents had to travel to town for all of their shopping and entertainment. Given the distance from the center of York, the residents of both neighborhoods were heavily reliant on automobiles as only one streetcar line connected the neighborhoods to the city. (see streetcar suburbs)
Most of the twentieth-century suburban developments marketed to the upper and middle class were located to the south of the city in Spring Garden Township. By 1910 these included Hillcroft and Springdale east of South George Street and Edgecombe, Deltham, Upper and Lower Grantley, Brockie, Willow Bridges and Wyndham Hills west of the same thoroughfare. The roots of these developments were large country mansions surrounded by acres of farmland to buffer the houses from other neighbors and the City of York. As the city grew, the farmland was subdivided by their owners or by real estate companies their owners controlled. These developments, like Springdale, lured the upper and middle class to enjoy the rural setting and freedom from the ills of city living. To further convey this ideal, the neighborhoods were planned with large lot sizes, landscape buffers, and wide curving streets. The earlier subdivisions like the Northwest neighborhood, East York and Elmwood were all developed using rigid linear streets that were similar to urban street patterns. Their one curving boulevard could not offer enough of the rural atmosphere that the newer developments had. Likewise, Springdale with its adjacency to the city and its use of existing city streets could only partly embrace the idea. While Springdale's overall plan tried to avoid the rigid gridiron plan common to urban areas with the addition of some curving avenues and streets, the neighborhood is still based on a grid including access alleys. However, the extensive landscaping and freedom from commercial and industrial ventures did create somewhat of the rural feeling.
As the popularity of the later suburbs grew, Springdale still offered many amenities that the newer developments could not. Its relatively flat landscape and ample sidewalks made the neighborhood pedestrian friendly. The soft cooling breeze that blows through the valley from the west kept the neighborhood cooler in the hot summer months, a selling point that Wyndham Hills and other neighborhoods on the hills could not offer. Lastly and most importantly, Springdale's location along the streetcar lines made suburban living convenient to the one-car households. From the streetcar lines on both South George and Queen Streets, it was an easy walk to center of town to do shopping for Springdale's residents. Once the streetcar system was removed, Springdale's convenient location to the main northern arteries into the City of York still made the neighborhood a convenient suburb.
Many of York's business leaders settled in Springdale. Most of the families enjoyed the rural environment of Springdale to raise their children. Catharine and Vincent Keesey "longed to move out-of-town where the children could have more room to play and be kept off the streets" (My Town and I, pg. 111). They moved to Springdale in 1924, living at 101 East Springettsbury Avenue until 1945. That sentiment continued as Springdale was fully developed by the late 1950s, excluding the new Unitarian Society worship center constructed in 1999. To this day the neighborhood is a desirable place to live. The houses retain their property value and their market. In 1977, the Springdale Neighborhood Association formed to preserve the character and appearance of the neighborhood and to provide for urban living of the highest quality. The association is active in zoning, crime, and traffic issues within the neighborhood. This organization has undoubtedly helped Springdale to retain much of its historic appearance.
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