Old City Hall - Heritage Center, Lancaster Pennsylvania

Date added: June 01, 2022 Categories: Pennsylvania Community Facility City Hall

Architecturally, the building, though restored in 1924, still has many fine Federal features in its dignified exterior. It is now the oldest (1797) building on Penn Square, the scene of many of Lancaster's historic moments. The building itself housed the Commonwealth offices from 1799-1812 when Lancaster was the capital of the state. In later years it served as both a city and county building, a meeting hall for the Masonic lodge, as a post office, and as a library. As the oldest building on the square, it remains a thread to Lancaster's historic past.

The old City Hall was commissioned as a "public office house" in 1795, and completed two years later on the grounds that had originally been deeded to the city by Andrew Hamilton for keeping and erecting a market. Built of brick in Flemish bond, the three and a half story structure has accents in cut stone. Flat stone arches with large keystones are found above the windows and a stone beltcourse divides the first and second stories. The building is five bays across and three deep. The main entrance was in the middle of the south side and was flanked by engaged columns and surmounted by a classical pediment. Two entrances were located in the east gable, but they were relatively unadorned with flat arches similar to those of the windows. All the windows on the first floor were flanked by paneled shutters.

The moderate pitch of the roof line is broken by the vertical extension of the gable to simulate massive joined chimneys. The actual flues were hidden behind this masonry construction. A wooden balustrade connected the two simulated chimneys. Two small gabled dormers with half round windows are found on the front and back slopes of the roof. A large circular window set in circular moulding with four keystones is also found in the east gable at the attic level.

The building has undergone major alterations in door and window placement. The main door on the south facade was made into a window as were the two east entrances. The center window on the east gable end has now become the main entrance. Ih is decorated with pilasters, pediment, and fan window. The building was restored in 1924 but the general appearance with regard to window and door placement is that of the 1890 structure. The interior has suffered from continuous and varied use. Little of the interior woodwork remains in the present office configuration.

Old City Hall - Heritage Center, Lancaster Pennsylvania 1973