Hager Brothers Department Store Building, Lancaster Pennsylvania

Date added: June 01, 2022 Categories: Pennsylvania Retail Department Store

According to the most reliable sources now extant, the business of the Hager Store was founded on the site in 1821, located at 25 W.King St., which is in the center of the block West of the town's square. The building was incorporated as Hager and Brothers in 1926, When the business closed in January, 1977 it was believed to be the oldest department store in continuous family ownership on the same site in the United States.

The original old Victorian brick store building that occupied the front section of this site was demolished in stages in the summer of 1910, the Hager business was not interrupted for any part of the reconstruction work. On May 11, 1910, the Hager Department Store announced that it was soon to commence construction of a new store building. By June 22, 1910 the foundations were nearly finished and the steel was being unloaded. The steel structural work was done by A.B. Rote Company, the identities of other builders are at present unknown. The building was designed by Cassius Emlen Urban (1863-1939), the leading architect in Lancaster from the mid 1890's through the 1920's. Apparently Mr, Urban felt a particular pride in the Hager Building, for in a partial list of his buildings compiled about 1924 this was noted as "the great department store of Hager and Brother". Although now the style of the building might be termed "Chicago Style" or a commercial version of the Beaux-Arts Style, the contemporary descriptions noted that it was built "along lines of the French Renaissance, but featured progressive modern Western ideas".

Construction was completed in March 1911; the Lancaster New Era newspaper for March 22, 1911 announced a ten day opening commencing on Thursday, March 23, 1911. The new building was then hailed as "the best example of modern department store building construction in our State outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh". Notable features, in addition to its use of steel frame construction and terra cotta facing, included "three electric elevators, an automatic sprinkler system..., three and a quarter miles of pipe... and 130 running feet of display front".

The overall dimensions of this rectangular structure are two hundred forty and one half lineal feet on the north and south exposures and sixty three lineal feet on the east and west exposures, The building is free standing, being bounded on the south by West King Street, on the east by North Market Street, on the north by West Grant Street and on the west by ground level parking lot.

The building was constructed in three sections, each with different and independent structural systems and different exterior treatments. The southern portion measures sixty three feet by one hundred one feet by approximately sixty seven feet in height and includes five stories varying from 15'-6" to 12'-23"" and a full basement 11'-2" lower than the first floor elevation. The structure is steel frame clad with terra cotta blocks and ornamented with a pressed metal coping. Cast iron columns support a structural steel grid dividing this section into five eighteen foot bays north-south and three irregular bays east-west. The steel frame is infilled with three by ten and three by twelve joists spanning approximately eighteen feet and supporting a wooden floor system. The exposed west facade is concrete block and brick. Large wood frame windows infill the wall openings of the terra cotta clad facades. An elevator tower and large steel framework punctuate the slightly sloping built-up roof.

The central portion measures sixty three feet by ninety four and one half feet by approximately fifty three and one half feet in height and includes four stories and a full basement, matching the story heights of the southern section. The exterior bearing walls are brick, with the exception of the fourth story eastern facade, which is clad with brick relief pressed metal, typical of this period in Lancaster. The steel frame is supported by cast iron columns and carries a floor structure matching the southern section, The column grid is somewhat irregular with bays varying from twenty two feet by twenty two feet to thirteen feet by nineteen feet. The four pane over four pane wood sash measure 3'-0" X 6'-7" on the second and third floor east facade, These windows also have a two pane transom. The fourth story windows are eight pane over eight pane and measure 2'-10" X 6'-7". The roof is a built-up roof sloping. slightly toward North Market Street.

The Northern portion was constructed in two parts. Both parts match the floor elevations and structural type of the central section. The east and west facades are also similar to the central section but differ in the window treatment. The lintels of the window heads are steel angles and the sash are steel with divided lights and operable awning sections. The north facade contains a freight loading dock, service entrance and fire stair fenestration and a two story aluminum infill store front of the Art Deco period. The actual installation date of this infill is not known.

The interior spaces are large and open, characteristic of the previous department store use and the type of spaces allowed by column and steel frame structure. Window mouldings are unornate in the central and north sections but have high relief in the terra cotta infill of the southern section.

Hager Brothers Department Store Building, Lancaster Pennsylvania 1979