Historic York, Inc. is a private, non-profit historic preservation organization serving the City and County of York. Founded in 1975 to save the Billmeyer House (225 East Market Street, York City), threatened with demolition, Historic York, Inc. established a revolving fund for the restoration of architecturally and historically significant buildings. An offer was made to purchase the Billmeyer House using the revolving fund. When the owners decided to proceed with the projects on their own, Historic York, Inc. turned their efforts to the restoration of several mid-18th century buildings in York.
The Cookes House (Martin Luther King Park, York City) was the first project started but the last one completed. Its Germanic-influenced limestone exterior was carefully restored and its interior appears much as it would have in 1761, the original construction date. It was sold to a private individual who maintains it as a residence.
The Kirk House (322 West Market Street, York City) was the second major project by the organization. Its exterior was restored by Historic York, Inc. and the building was offered for sale. The next owners restored the interior of the townhouse to its elegant 1770s appearance.
The Willis House (135 Willis Run Road, East Manchester Township) served as the first official office of Historic York, Inc. The Georgian brick residence was constructed in 1762 by William Willis, a brick maker and mason. The building remained part of Prospect Hill Cemetery for many years under lease to Historic York, Inc. The property was leased to Henry and Nancy McFall who completed much of the restoration. The building remains as a private residence under separate ownership.
As these projects reached completion, Historic York, Inc. saw the opportunity to aid the City in its effort to preserve the architecture and revitalize the downtown area. The City’s Façade Easement Program, administered by Historic York, Inc. encouraged property owners in the downtown to preserve and maintain the historic appearance of their storefronts by offering design and monetary assistance for rehabilitation. In exchange, Historic York, Inc. is granted an easement on the façade of the rehabilitated building for a period of 20 years. Historic York, Inc. also serves as the technical advisor to the City’s Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB), and in that way has helped to preserve many downtown buildings by offering feasible alternatives to demolition and alteration.
In 1978, Historic York, Inc. began a county-wide survey to identify historically and architecturally significant buildings worthy of preservation. This is an important tool not only for homeowners but also for Boroughs and Townships who must evaluate the effect on historic resources caused by road, bridge and other development projects utilizing federal funds. Historic York, Inc. has been responsible for the listing of over 40 historic districts in York County to the National Register of Historic Places, including York, East York, Fairmount, Northwest, Springdale, Glen Rock, Delta, Hanover, Pleasureville, Red Lion, Spring Grove, Wrightsville, Railroad, and others. Historic York has also prepared over 25 National Register of Historic Places nominations for individual buildings, including Box Hill Mansion, Clear Springs Mill, Hanover Post Office, Martin Schultz House, John Rudy Homestead, New Freedom Railroad Station, Sinking Springs Farm, Stevens School, and the YMCA, among others.
Money from Historic York, Inc.’s revolving fund was also made available to other County preservation groups in the form of low interest loans. Historic York, Inc. loaned $5,000 to a community group in Wellsville to stabilize the 1907 William Wells Young Memorial School until a buyer could be found. In 1984, a loan was made to help developers of the Stevens School located at 606 Philadelphia Street in York, convert classrooms into twelve apartments for moderate income tenants. In 1988, a loan was made to the owners of the Shoe House located at 197 Shoe House Road in Hellam to help finance its rehabilitation.
The Shoe House was recently featured in AAA Mid Atlantic magazine (May-June 2010) – Roadside Architecture (pg 58).
Another note worthy project – a loan was made in 1990 to Crispus Attucks Revitalization Inc. to help with the rehabilitation of three row houses. In 1991, a loan was made to assist in the rehabilitation of the c. 1779 Codorus Ironmaster’s House in Hellam Township.
In 1986, Historic York, Inc. opened the Architectural Warehouse as a retail operation. In 2010, Historic York made the decision to focus specifically on its mission and return to its core services. The opportunity came along that allowed us to maintain the legacy of the Warehouse and provided Historic York the opportunity to remain relevant by freeing up staff time to focus on new initiatives. The Warehouse remains a clearinghouse for shutters, doors, windows, mantels, hardware and lighting fixtures that might otherwise be destroyed or allowed to deteriorate through lack of use. Items may still be donated directly to Historic York and are offered for sale to homeowners, developers and contractors through the Warehouse, now called Restoration Warehouse. The Warehouse also sells a small range of reproduction architectural items.
Historic York, Inc. launched a capital campaign in 1990 to purchase the York Cigar and Company (224 North George Street, York City) as a home for the Architectural Warehouse and to serve as headquarters for the organization. A sizeable restricted gift was made to benefit the restoration of Wallace Cross Mill, a county property in East Hopewell Township. The mill was restored and is operated by the York County Parks and Recreation.
Historic York, Inc. has interceded on behalf of numerous properties trying to find new owners to prevent demolition. After many years trying to relocate the Philip Zeigler House in West Manchester Township, Historic York, Inc. recorded the property and salvaged its pieces to sell in the Architectural Warehouse.
Historic York, Inc. launched its third capital campaign in 1999 to replenish the Revolving Fund. Primarily these funds were used for the restoration of the Farquhar Park Bandstand in York City. Historic York, Inc. secured a Keystone Historic Preservation Grant for the project. In all, Historic York, Inc. was able to give $100,000 as well as countless hours of professional consulting at no cost to the project.
In 2001, Historic York, Inc. launched a campaign to prevent development on a Revolutionary War era archaeological site in Springettsbury Township. Working with Friends of Camp Security, the organizations were successful in creating public outcry against the development and trying to secure funding to purchase the property. To date, the development has been tied up in court.
In 2006, Historic York, Inc. moved its operation into the former Jacob Beitzel Lumberyard at 465 Prospect Street, York City. Relocation provided for the partnership with several for-profit businesses which have helped elevate the organization to the next phase of neighborhood preservation along the Prospect Street corridor.
In 2007, Historic York, Inc. accepted the gift of the c. 1754 Johanes and Cristina Schultz House and associated five acres and outbuildings from Beatrice T. Rowe. The house is believed to be one of the first constructed in York County and is located in Springettsbury Township. The organization was successful in subdividing the property from the farms remaining 115 acres and continues creating a long-term preservation plan for the property.