A ‘magical history tour’

By on October 6, 2016
The historic former Sprecher Hardware building on East Main Street (now Hometown Refurnishing) is part of the Oct. 22 tour.

Multiple local anniversaries will be celebrated with Oct. 22 event

The architecture and history of Ephrata is front and center on Saturday, Oct. 22 for the biennial walking tour of the Historic Preservation Trust (HPT) of Lancaster County.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. and wraps up at 3 with 30 stops that promise priceless structures, information and even surprise artifacts that will be revealed for the first time.

There are several unique connections between Ephrata and the HPT that make this year’s travel through time and place special for the community, the county and beyond — not the least of which is Trust president, Gary P. Klinger, a lifelong Ephrata resident.

“First of all, I’d suggest people start early so that they can truly relax and enjoy the tour,” advised Klinger. “There is so much to take in and see. Look for the wide range of architectural styles from rustic settings, to the exquisite refinement of Beaux Arts. Look for the excellent examples of adaptive reuse and careful and meticulous restoration work.”

The second tie is to several anniversaries being celebrated this year and next. For starters, 2016 is the 125th anniversary of Ephrata’s incorporation as a Borough. It is also the 300th birthday of Ephrata Cloister founder Conrad Beissel, the 40th anniversary of the Sister City relationship between Ephrata and Eberbach, Germany, the 50th anniversary of the HPT and the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley.

“In selecting a location for this year’s tour, Ephrata seemed like the natural choice,” added Klinger. “I’m even more excited to see this tour transformed from an HPT event into an event for the community and by the community.”

Several Ephrata organizations have contributed to the planning and operation of the tour, including the Historical Society, the Ephrata Cloister, (the starting point of the tour) the Ephrata Area Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Ephrata Inc. (DEI) and Friends of Eberbach. A group of students and adults alike from Eberbach will be in town at the time of the tour.

The Ephrata Area Chamber is happy to support a number of our local community organizations,” said Chamber Executive Director Andrea Glass. “It seemed like a natural fit to support the Historic Trust of Lancaster when they decided to bring their tour to Ephrata.”

This biennial tour is titled ‘Celebrate Ephrata: A Tour of Historic Places’ and includes this partial list of destinations: The Connell Mansion (Historical Society), 1777 Inn (bed and breakfast), Ephrata National Bank (ENB), Sprecher Building, the Kimmel House (B&B), Mentzer Building, Highland Elementary, Smithton Inn (B&B), Lincoln House, Ephrata Railroad Station (Chamber of Commerce, DEI) and the office building at 121 East Main Street.

That final building, along with Highland and ENB were designed by Lancaster Architect C. Emlen Urban (18631939). Urban is responsible for the design of dozens of Lancaster’s most dynamic structures, including the Southern Market, Watt & Shand, The Greist Building and remodels of the Fulton Opera House and the original Lancaster County Courthouse. He also designed the Milton Hershey Mansion in Lancaster and was considered Mr. Hershey’s primary architect.

Two artifacts connected to Urban and Ephrata will be revealed during the tour, but only to those participating.“

One of the artifacts, in my opinion, is the ‘Holy Grail’ of surprise artifacts,” described Klinger. “Not only does it have direct ties to Urban, but it has direct ties to Ephrata. This artifact’s importance to Ephrata history is priceless.”

Ticket prices have been reduced this year from the norm of $3545 to $25, thanks to sponsors like Four Seasons Produce, Blue Ridge Communications, Ephrata National Bank and Lester Summers Trucking. Seniors (60+) and students receive an additional break at $20 and children 12andunder enjoy the experience for free.

With a goal of more than 500 sold, tickets can be purchased by phone at 2915861 or online at hptrust.org. HPT is also looking to expand its ranks countywide.

“We are in the midst of our membership campaign,” noted Klinger. “Those who join now get the benefits through the duration of this year as well as the entire year of 2017.”The price of a ticket also provides a 40page detailed description of the stops, information on Urban and a map of the tour.

“The tour book is a keepsake which ticketholders will want to keep for years to come,” said Klinger. “We were able to accomplish one of my earliest visions of printing in full color for the first time.”

Recent biennial tours included an 18 stop, all Urban walk through the City of Lancaster in 2010; nine ‘Hidden Treasures’ throughout New Holland, Bowmansville and Carnarvon in 2012; and 20 historic business and industry sites in downtown Lancaster in 2014.You might wonder what inspires someone like Klinger to take a leadership role in historic preservation on a countywide basis.

“I’ve lived in my own 116yearold home since 2004, carefully restoring nearly every aspect of it with my own blood, sweat and tears,” said Klinger. “I’m a woodworker and designer by trade, so being able to jump in with all my energy to help others preserve their old homes and businesses is truly a passion for me. It’s a very proud time for Ephrata.”

Kevin Frey is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.

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