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The establishment of a markethouse dates back to the founding of Lancaster itself. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the land that would become the City of Lancaster was owned by Andrew Hamilton. On May 15, 1730, Hamilton and his wife deeded three lots for three specific uses -- a courthouse, a jail, and a markethouse -- to be clustered around the town square (originally called Centre Square, and later Penn Square). A public market was recognized as a cornerstone of a stable and civil society.

Set within a region of abundantly rich farmland, Lancaster's growing urban population was sustained by four Victorian markethouses, both public and private, that were built in each quadrant of the City, in addition to Central Market. Three additional markets opened in the twentieth century.

Today, Central Market remains a viable and vibrant markethouse. Four former markethouse buildings still stand in the City, a legacy of Lancaster's historic market tradition.

Northern Market

If it were still standing today, this building would be Lancaster's oldest Victorian era markethouse, having been constructed in 1872. Northern Market was located at the corner of North Queen and West Walnut Streets (at the present site of Lebzelters service station). Sadly, this building was torn down in the 1958.

Western Market

528 West Orange Street

Built in 1882 as a three-story markethouse in the Romanesque Revival Style, this building featured seven bays defined by blind arches and corbelled brickwork. After closing as a market, it was converted to a skating rink, and was later reduced to one story by a 1942 fire. The building now houses offices.

Fulton Market

607 North Plum Street (1907)

One of Lancaster's twentieth-century markets, this brick Colonial Revival Style building included residential space within its flanking wings. It was designed by Lancaster architect C. Emlen Urban, nineteen years after he designed Southern Market. This market, together with the Fulton Hotel located just to the north, formed the "shopping center" of the McGrann Park development. Today the building includes retail space and apartments.

Eastern Market

308 East King Street

Built in 1883 to serve residents in the City's eastern end, this is Lancaster's only Second Empire Style markethouse, with the characteristic bell-curved mansard roof atop a three-story corner tower. Closed as a markethouse in 1927, modern display windows were later added to the building's first floor. The building now houses offices.

Southern Market

100 South Queen Street

Built in 1888 in the Queen Anne Style, this building displays ornamental terra cotta and decorative brickwork, and is anchored by two pyramidal tower. Closed as a market in 1986, the building now houses City Council Chambers. The building was designed by Lancaster architect C. Emlen Urban.

C. Emlen Urban, Lancaster's Native Architect
No study of architectural history in Lancaster would be complete without mention of the City's first professional native architect, C. Emlen Urban.  Urban was one of the most important figures to shape the look of the City of Lancaster from the last quarter of the nineteenth century through the first three decades of the twentieth century. His designs are as varied as the types of buildings he worked on.  His commissions touched every aspect of city life, ranging from private residences to civic and commercial buildings, banks, schools, churches, office buildings, industrial buildings, hospital buildings, hotels, markethouses and Lancaster's first skyscraper.  As he matured, his designs embraced architectural styles as diverse as Queen Anne, Beaux Arts, and Colonial Revival.  His work forms a bridge between the Victorian Era and the Modern Age. During his own lifetime, Urban's cosmopolitan designs lent a sophisticated look to Lancaster. Today, his buildings are timeless contributions to our urban architectural heritage.  How appropriate that such a forward-thinking man in the life of the City was himself named "Urban."

Cassius Emlen Urban was born in Conestoga Township in 1863. After graduating from Lancaster's Boys’ High School, he apprenticed as a draftsman at a firm in Scranton before returning to Lancaster. Urban died in Lancaster on May 21, 1939.

Learn more about Urban’s architectural legacy through a 53-page booklet, To Build Strong and Substantial: The Career of C. Emlen Urban.  The booklet examines more than forty-five examples of Urban’s work that survive within the City of Lancaster, as well as seven demolished landmarks. In addition to historical background and an architectural description of each building, the booklet includes a labeled site map so readers can trace the progression of Urban’s career through a self-guided walking or driving tour.

Publication of this booklet was supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Central Market

Penn Square

The present markethouse, built in 1889 in the Romanesque Revival Style  [link to Roman Revival Style PDF document], follows a succession of sheds and other market structures constructed in this vicinity since 1730. The round arched main entry is highlighted by a pattern of polychromatic stone masonry within the pediment. This markethouse was designed by architect James H. Warner.