The Dempwolf Contribution to York's Streetscape

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Many of the most beautiful buildings ever constructed in York were designed by an architect named Dempwolf. John Augustus (J.A.) Dempwolf, who was born in Germany, studied architecture at the Cooper Union Institute in New York during the 1870s. After graduation Dempwolf worked in Boston, where he supervised construction of the Holy Cross Cathedral. He then designed a church in York and moved to Philadelphia to help architect Stephen Button design buildings for the Centennial Exposition. When that commission ended, Dempwolf opened an office in York and began to define the look of York City.

At the competent hands of J.A. Dempwolf, his brother Reinhart, and his son Frederick, many of York’s finer structures were realized. While many of the buildings they designed still stand, some of their most prominent works—the York City Market and York Collegiate Institute—gave way under the wrecking ball. Buildings designed by the Dempwolfs include:

Bon-Ton Building (JA)
Central Market House (JA)
Colonial Hotel (JA)
Fluhrer Building (JA)
Hahn Home (JA)
Rosenmiller Building (JA)
Union Lutheran Church (JA)
York County Courthouse (JA)
York National Bank
York Trust Company (JA & Reinhart)
Martin Library (Frederick)
York Telephone & Telegraph (Frederick)
York City Hall (Frederick)

During the firm’s active period—1874-1920—over 600 buildings were designed. The Dempwolf Family has left a lasting effect on York’s architecture, more so than any other firm. And thanks to local organizations like Historic York as well as local architects like NuTec Design, their legacy is being preserved.

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© 1991, 2002 by Scott D. Butcher

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