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Conestoga Heights

(GMS)

Southeast Quadrant

The Conestoga River meanders through the lower portion of the southeast quadrant of the city. The name Conestoga Heights reflects the relationship of the area to this important waterway.

Conestoga Heights is sparsely developed with buildings due in large part to its substantial coverage by cemeteries. South Duke Street is its principal north to south street, running southeast from Church Street, and Chesapeake Street is its major east to west thoroughfare. There are modern commercial buildings along South Duke Street and a small residential area to its west. Otherwise, the entire area is covered by cemeteries, the Lancaster County Central Park, or vacant land. See What's Here and What's New!

Several streets, buildings and lots are shown at the southeastern portion of Conestoga Heights on Joshua Scott's 1824 map. This development is shown on the 1850 city map, as is Woodward Hill Cemetery. A small burial ground, called "Musser's Burial Ground," is shown near the present intersection of South Duke and Schuykill Streets. Also, a mill is indicated on the north side of the Conestoga approximately where the entrance to Central Park is today. This mill is referred to as "Stone Mill" on Kennedy's 1858 map. The map also shows Ann, Marshall and Franklin Streets having been extended to present day Rockland Street, although only Ann Street is shown as such by the 1864 Atlas. Musser's graveyard is still indicated on that map and the mill is referred to as "Steam Saw Mill." A farm complex owned by George G. Sprecher is shown for the first time on the site of present-day Central Park. In addition, Zion Cemetery is shown adjacent to Woodward Hill Cemetery.

Lamparter's Glue Factory is the only substantial development indicated by the time of Roe and Colby's 1874 city map. An extensive grid of streets, all shown in dashed lines indicating that they were not yet built, is shown on the Board of Trade's Map of the City of Lancaster of 1887. The only substantial additions to the area by the time of the 1899 Atlas were the creation of Greenwood Cemetery (1896) and the expansion of Woodward Hill Cemetery.

The two most prominent features of Conestoga Heights are its two large cemeteries, Woodward Hill and Greenwood. These outstanding man-made landscapes complement the gently rolling land bounding the Conestoga to form many picturesque settings.

Woodward Hill Cemetery is one of Lancaster's two Victorian era "rural" cemeteries (the other being The Lancaster Cemetery). There are more than 750 markers, enclosures, tombs and mausoleums on the site, which encompasses approximately thirty-two acres on a rolling hillside. The focal point of its cursive lanes is a brick, Gothic-style funerary chapel with lancet doors and windows, now used for storage. There are many fine old trees and other landscaping elements.

On 7 October 1849, the vestry of Trinity Lutheran Church moved to buy ground for a new burial ground. A committee was appointed in November to purchase the land, which was accomplished shortly thereafter. Twelve and one-half acres were purchased from Emmanuel Carpenter Reigart. Nine Trustees were elected on 4 November 1850. On 25 January 1851, it was moved that the cemetery become a corporation with stockholders and the transition was completed on February 2, 1852.

The grounds were laid out and the Gothic style chapel built in 1851. In 1854, Zion Lutheran Church established its cemetery at the northern end of Woodward Hill. Additional acreage for expansion of Woodward Hill was purchased in 1881. The architect of the central chapel, and the later Gothic style office-residence, is unknown at present.

Important monuments to prominent Lancastrians buried in Woodward Hill Cemetery include that of President James Buchanan (1791-1868), the tall obelisk on the Grubb plot and the Doric-style marker for Mr. & Mrs. Amos Urban, believed to have been designed by their son, C. Emlen Urban. There are a number of re-interments of eighteenth and early nineteenth century burials, including at least twenty exceptional relief carved stones.

In addition to the monuments already noted, others of distinct quality include the eighteenth century stone to Valentine Krug, the varied markers on the Musser-Montgomery-Reigart lot, the 1799 stone to the joiner Gotlieb Sener of the Sener-Ellicott-von Hess House, the mausoleums of the Keiper and Long families, several enclosures of very elaborate ironwork and a pair of Egyptian-style stone statues on the hillside to the east of the Muhlenburg lot.

Greenwood Cemetery, located immediately south of Woodward Hill Cemetery across Chesapeake Street, is a very handsomely landscaped burial ground covering approximately thirty acres. Its primary architectural feature is a large mausoleum, reputedly designed by Daniel Miller Rothenberger. A massive stone gateway with paired arches marks the entrance to the cemetery along South Queen Street.

Greenwood Cemetery was founded in 1896. Due to its relative "youth" in comparison to several other cemeteries, fewer persons of state and national prominence are buried here than in Lancaster Cemetery, Woodward Hill Cemetery or Shreiner's Cemetery.

The cemetery contains more that 1,000 markers, statues and family mausoleums. There is a distinctive one story Egyptian Revival mausoleum at the southeast end of the cemetery that was built circa 1903 (see photo on page 34). The cavetto cornice, projecting end bays, engaged Egyptian columns, art glass windows and sphinxes flanking the entry steps are elements of this architectural style.

Also located on the grounds is a one and one-half story, three bay brick crematorium, with shuttered lancet windows and corbelled brick details. The crematorium, built in 1884, was the first public crematorium in Pennsylvania and one of the earliest in the nation.

The Stevens-Greenland and Riverview Cemeteries are located to the southeast of Woodward Hill Cemetery, along the banks of the Conestoga west of South Duke Street. Both are twentieth century burial grounds distinguished by the natural character of their settings.

Across the Conestoga from these cemeteries is another prominent landscape, although a more recent one. A portion of Lancaster County's Central Park extends into the perimeter of the old city limits on a peninsula of the Conestoga. Accessed from Chesapeake Street via a modern bridge, the centerpiece of the park at this location is a mid-nineteenth century farmhouse, now used as a park office. This is the house shown on the 1864 Atlas as the farmhouse of George G. Sprecher.

The Jacob Miller & Co. Rowhouses, two structures, each having four residential units, are located at 633 - 639 South Franklin Street. One story high with gable roofs, the basic design of the facade of the two bay wide units is similar. Most of the houses have been altered over time, yet 645 and 647 South Franklin Street retain relatively intact facades. The stone walls of 647 are now painted light green. Of all eight units, only the stone walls of 645 remain in the natural state. For this house, the facade window frame and the simple molded wooden cornice appear to be original, although the window sash are not. The detailing of brick flat arches over the openings on 645 appears to be original and is a rather unexpected refinement.

The houses were built as workers' housing for the Jacob Miller & Company cotton mill, which lasted from 1812 through 1814. They were later owned by the Lancaster Cotton Works (1815 -1821), Humes Mill (circa 1821 to circa 1853), and the Rockland Mill (circa 1859). From 1860 through 1870 they belonged to the nearby Cork Works.

The large stone mill building of Jacob Miller & Co. burned in 1870. All of the brick workers' houses and the large stone tavern-apartment were razed by the city in 1973 as part of an urban renewal project in the area.

Although they are almost totally unknown in the community, these rowhouse structures almost certainly are the oldest extant rowhouses in Lancaster City. They also may rank among the oldest rowhouses associated with industrial housing in Pennsylvania.

Jacob Miller began acquiring land in this area about 1805. The sites of these row houses were included in 90-3/4 acres, formerly part of the large Musser Plantation which Miller bought from John Oakly on April 29, 1807. It has been claimed that Miller built these rowhouses in 1811. However, a contract dated November 17, 1812 states that "...Jacob Miller shall in a reasonable time after the first day of March next (1813) cause to be erected at his own expense a stone or brick one-story building, 125 feet long and 30 feet wide, which is to embrace conveniences for nine families. This circa 1812 - 1813 structure must be identified as the 125 by 35 foot building noted in the 1818 advertisement for the Sheriff's Sale of this property.

The 1812 and 1818 documents do not fit perfectly the present two-story structures with eight residential units. It is possible that Miller slightly altered these specifications. However, it is also possible that a now lost element once linked the present 639 and 641, which would give the nine units specified in the 1812 contract.
The other development with Conestoga Heights consists of the modern buildings along South Duke Street and a small cluster of houses located to the east of South Duke Street along Chesapeake and Schuykill Streets. This small subdivision was platted as Drexel Terrace and contains mostly residences dating from post 1950.

Sunnyside

The origin of the name Sunnyside for this area is not documented. It was called Sunnyside before a subdivision of that name was created here in the early twentieth century.

Sunnyside was largely undeveloped prior to 1900. Only two houses are shown in the area on the 1899 Atlas. Both houses survive today as 22 Reedy Lane, a one story log house built circa 1800, and 1337 South Duke Street, a mid to late nineteenth century brick farmhouse.

Frank H. H. Brody and James K. O'Shea, developers from Patterson, New Jersey, purchased forty-three acres of Sunnyside on 29 August 1912.* A subdivision plan was drawn up by F. H. Shaw, a civil engineer, and recorded in that year. The plan called for 531 building lots tightly arranged around a series of curvilinear streets. Access to the subdivision from the city, just across the Conestoga, was provided by the Rocky Springs line of the trolley.

The sale of lots commenced immediately, with prices ranging from $29 to $79 and requiring that houses built cost at least $400. The purchasers were mostly working class people from the City of Lancaster. Historical research suggests that the houses built within the subdivision were modest ones. The small number of houses surviving from the first decades of Sunnyside are consistent with the research.

By the 1930s, Sunnyside was a depressed area. The 1933 Home Owners' Loan Corporation Residential Security Map of Lancaster redlines the entire Sunnyside neighborhood, indicating that the property was thought to be unsuitable for mortgage lending. The area continued to decline and has been the subject of several generations of community planning activity with the intent of revitalizing it. Still, in 1995, Sunnyside remains sparsely populated.

The 1912 street pattern is still partially evident in Sunnyside. A small number of historically significant houses remain scattered along Circle and Juniata Avenues. In general, only a small portion of the area reflects its early-twentieth century appearance. That area is shaded on the map on the previous page. Within this small area are eight houses and one church. Of the houses, 1 and 39 Circle Avenue and 7 and 13 Juniata Avenue, are representative of circa 1912 dwellings. The Sunnyside Mennonite Church was established in 1934.

Most of the houses in Sunnyside are grouped at its west end along Circle and Juniata Avenue. The center section contains an automobile junkyard and mostly vacant land. The remainder of Sunnyside, northeast of Pleasant Street, contains the remains of an abandoned quarry.

The only individual building with historical and architectural significance is the small log house at 22 Reedy Lane. Constructed circa 1800, it is a relatively rare example of a substantially intact cornerpost log Germanic bankhouse. The interior retains much of its original three-room plan, although the central chimney has been removed. The house is typical of the small one story dwellings commonplace in Lancaster prior to 1850, that are now relatively few in number.

The other building that pre-dates the creation of the 1912 subdivision is 1337 South Duke Street. The historic character of this simple Lancaster County farmhouse has recently been lost to alterations.

Lancaster City Living – Lancaster PA