If you would like to pick up a printed brochure that includes a map, they will be available during the tour at the Greater York Chamber of Commerce, 23 East Liberty Street, York SC 29745 803.684.2590.
Here are the wonderful sites on tour for 2018:
16 West Liberty Street – Gillespie House
Photograph courtesy of Karen Jones
Date Built: 1913 Style: Neoclassical
Architectural Description: The Gillespie House is a 2½-story clapboard building with a medium-hip roof and two interior chimneys. It features a three-sided bay window and two dormers on the upper stories. Six columns support the one-story porch with flat roof, and transom lights and sidelights frame the front door.
History: Built as the manse of the First Presbyterian Church, this building was constructed at a cost of $7,828.10. The house is named for E. E. Gillespie, DD, the first minister to occupy it. About 1970 it was designated the Youth Building because the minister at the time chose to build his own house. This use declined, and for several years community groups occupied the house as offices and meeting places. In 1990 the church completely restored the building. Church members and the community use the house for receptions, teas, and related uses.
110 East Liberty Street
Photograph courtesy of Karen Jones
Date Built: 1843 Style: Tuscan Villa
Architectural Description: This 2½-story clapboard home is one of the few Tuscan Villa houses in the Upcountry. Its pyramid roof has two gable dormers. The house features a two-level porch supported by columns and elliptical arches. Dentils accent the cornice and the porch gable. Brackets under the eaves also embellish the house, and the brick foundation displays openwork.
History: Dr. James McClure Lowry built this home. His son Samuel Cosmo died in 1864 at the Battle of the Crater, and his wife, Louisa, died in 1878. Dr. Lowry found himself in financial ruin and was forced to sell his home to repay his debts. John R. Ashe, a founding partner in the York Cotton Mills, eventually purchased the residence. After Ashe’s untimely death in 1901, his second wife, Sarah, and their nine children remained in the home through the 1920s. A. Y. Cartwright and later his father-in-law, E. A. Montgomery, bought the property in the late 1930s. The home was converted into a boardinghouse, managed by Miss Eunice Smith. Notable boarders included employees of the Barnett Brothers Circus, which maintained its winter quarters in York. In 1944 the house was restored to a single-family dwelling when the Brandon family acquired the property. Despite numerous renovations through the years, the original outbuildings have survived, and the design of the structure has remained intact. The original lot consisted of the entire block.
219 East Liberty Street
Photograph courtesy of Karen Jones
Bonus House – We are delighted to have this late edition to our tour!
Dates Built: circa 1795–circa 1858 Style: Greek Revival
Architectural Description: This two-story clapboard residence has a low side-gabled roof and nine-over-nine windows. The house features a full-façade porch with a recessed transom light and sidelights around the door on each floor.
History: This house may be one of the oldest in York. It is one of three with origins as early as the 1700s, but precise dates are unknown. The house was built in three major stages. The core of the house built circa 1795 had a square floor plan and central chimney. The original cut-stone foundation pillars are still in place. The chimney was removed, but the foundation remains. In the second 1840s stage, the floor plan took on today’s rectangular shape. At that time several rooms were added to the front of the house. The floor frame is the original hand-hewn chestnut and pit-sawn pine log beams. Finally, William D. Miller added the Greek Revival porch circa 1858. Less visible improvements in the 1920s included a kitchen with modern flooring. Vern and Denise Eakin have completed major restorations.
9 Kings Mountain Street
Photograph Courtesy of Tiffany Eakin
Date Built: circa 1890 Style: Queen Anne
Architectural Description: This 2½-story house has a high-hip roof with cross gables. The one-story porch with hip roof features turned posts and balusters, and the posts are decorated with brackets.
History: Miss Janie Robinson bought this house from I. D. Witherspoon in 1897. According to the Yorkville Enquirer dated June 27, 1900, she sold the home to local dentist Dr. Matthew Westbrook White. It was possibly a gift for his wife because her name, Mamie D. White, appears on the deed. Another occupant was the family of E. A. Hall, who was mayor of York. Sometime around 1918 John Ingram Barron, MD, and his wife, Eugenia Isabella Auld Barron, bought the property. The live oak in the front yard was brought from Mrs. Barron’s home in Mount Pleasant and is a rare species in our town.
229 Kings Mountain Street
Photograph Courtesy of Tiffany Eakin
Dates Built: 1917–1920 Style: Neoclassical
Architectural Description: This 2½-story yellow-brick house features a full-façade portico with four sets of columns and pilasters. The lintels of many of the windows are accented with keystones, as are the round windows in the two gables. Dentils add shadow lines to the eaves of the house, wings, and dormer. The door is framed by a pediment, entablature, transom lights, and sidelights.
History: This home was begun in 1917 by Jacob “Jake” Stephen Mackorell (1879–1950) and was completed in 1920. Jacob and his brother Robert owned a business called Mackorell Brothers, which is listed as a wholesale grocer in the 1908–1909 Rock Hill/Yorkville city directory. Jacob bought his brother’s share of the business in 1915 (York County Deed Book 43, Page 323). According to Jane Roper Hart, who grew up in this home, the house was called “the Aquarium” during its early years because Mr. Mackorell’s nickname was “Fish.” Dr. Charles Pinckney Roper bought the house in 1941 (York County Deed Book 100, Page 1). According to his daughter Jane, it was a gift for his new bride, Cora Elizabeth Inman, and Dr. Roper’s office was in the house at first. She also stated that Dr. Roper helped plan and build the Divine Saviour Hospital at 111 South Congress Street, which was completed in 1942, and was chief surgeon there until his sudden death in 1957. Dr. Roper’s family owned the property until 1999.
Downtown Music Lessons & More – 71 North Congress Street
Downtown Music has been in the making for decades. The founder, Joe Hardin, has been teaching music for upwards of 20 years, and always wanted to open his own store. After a lot of thought, he decided it was finally time to take the risk and Downtown Music was created February of 2015. Since then, the store has moved and grown and is now home to several other talented music teachers. They couldn’t be happier to make their home on Main Street in York and love bringing music to our community. Their goal has always been to make learning music a fun and exciting experience rather than a chore. They feel you can learn all the important music theory while also enjoying yourself and that this makes for better students overall. They welcome people of all ages, 3 to 100, who would like to create some magic with us. See more information on facebook .
ARP Church 70 North Congress Street
Photograph courtesy of Karenmarie Marley
Date Built: 1913 Style: Beaux Arts
Architectural Description: York Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church has a stuccoed foundation, which simulates light-colored smooth stone. Unusual for its Beaux Arts architecture are the brick exterior walls, instead of light-colored stucco or stone. A stepped-back parapet surrounds the flat roof. The heavy cornice has modillions above intricate dentils. Two pairs of two-story Ionic columns support the pediment over the entrance. A bracketed cornice tops the double door. The front and sides of the church have paired pilasters with recessed brick courses. On the frieze above each column and pilaster are plain round medallions. Over each lower window is a plain diamond-shaped medallion. Upper windows are round topped. The ribbon window above the entrance is capped by an ogive and flanked by windows with projecting keystones. At the center of the sidewalls is an upper and lower ribbon window, and a large ogive crowns the upper one.
History: York ARP Church is on lot 41 on the 1786 village plan. The church was organized in 1853, and in 1855 a wood-frame meetinghouse was built on East Madison Street. It was a large building behind the present-day church. Early records of the church were kept in the Yorkville Enquirer Building across the street and were destroyed when that building burned in 1890. Resident Clyde O. “Buzz” Smith remembered a story from Judge Joseph Moss. The judge’s father recalled watching with Mr. Smith’s grandfather as mule teams excavated the foundation for the current building. After major damage from a 1955 hailstorm, the sanctuary was restored and upgraded in 1956. The education building was added in 1967.
Baron Nowak: Baron Richard Nowak preached here after his years with Barnett Brothers Circus (briefly known as Wallace Brothers Circus). He was advertised as “The Smallest Man on Earth” and “Smaller than Tom Thumb.” Although described as 19 inches tall and 17 years old in his first year with the circus, he was actually 27 inches tall and 8 years old. His growth had been stunted in early childhood by severe whooping cough and pneumonia. He was a respected, featured big-top performer and never a sideshow attraction. His mother, Norma, married circus owner Ray W. Rogers. Baron Nowak was a favorite of his stepfather, and the two of them went on off-season winter performance tours together. Nowak grew to be four feet four inches after his circus years. He asked to be called a “short man,” not a “midget.” After graduating from Erskine College and Erskine Seminary, Nowak became an ordained Presbyterian minister. He also earned a graduate degree at Princeton Theological Seminary. Baron Nowak was known for his sense of humor and was a popular guest preacher. He was pastor of churches in several other states before becoming pastor at the Gilead ARP Church in Huntersville, North Carolina. Baron Nowak is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.[i]
[i] Joseph T. Bradbury, “The Ray W. Rogers Circuses,” Bandwagon: The Journal of the Circus Historical Society, May–June 1974, 4–14; July–August 1974, 17–26; September–October 1974, 4–15; November–December 1974, 26–33; January–February 1975, 4–13; March–April 1975, 18–19; May–June 1975, 18–30; July–August 1975, 17–26.
John I. Barron, elder at York ARP Church (York, South Carolina), interview by R. M. Propst, 2009; notes privately held by interviewer, York, South Carolina.
Vivian Nivens, “Circus Midget Now Big Man In Pulpit,” The Charlotte Observer, 20 March 1974; Baron Nowak b. 26 May 1931 d. 17 July 1997; Nancy Sambets, Archivist, Barnett Bros/Wallace Bros Circus, 1929–1945; RG-28; Historical Center of York County, York, South Carolina.
Paul C. Whitesides, researcher, Rose Hill Cemetery (Rock Hill, SC: Martin Printing, 2002), 69.