GUNZENHAUSER HOME

The imposing home at 250 W. Orange St., designed by C. Emlen Urban, reflects Christian Gunzenhauser's economic prosperity.

Building strong and lasting relationships is first and foremost to the career of any successful architect. By 1908, C. Emlen Urban had designed and built a dozen different building types — including private residences, churches, manufacturing facilities, a market house, a hospital, a department store, two hotels, a YMCA and even a funeral home — but never a bakery.

Orphaned and penniless, Christian Gunzenhauser arrived in America at 14 seeking a new life and employment. Following 12 years of learning the trade working for bakeries in Lock Haven, Philadelphia and Lancaster, Gunzenhauser seized the opportunity sometime around 1895 to purchase the Goebel Bakery at 231 W. King St.

His attention to detail, focus on cleanliness and utilization of the latest production technologies soon had his brand of breads, pastries and cakes overtaking his competitors’.

Gunzenhauser’s rising success afforded him the opportunity to retain Urban to design a new residence at 250 W. Orange St. for his expanding family. In addition to sharing an entrepreneurial spirit, Urban and Gunzenhauzer shared membership in the Lancaster Elks Club. It may have been this connection that led to a business relationship that spanned well over a decade.

The three-story Gunzenhauser residence is a unique blend of Georgian, French and Italian Renaissance Revival styles.

Georgian details include the distinctive Flemish bond brickwork, shutters and keystones — however, the keystones feature unusual corner blocks. The French influence is found in the steeply pitched and flared hipped roof, while the Italian Renaissance references are the exposed rafter tails and hipped dormer details.

The floor plan included servants’ quarters, a wine cellar, a cellar for provisions and dedicated laundry spaces reflective of a family with wealth and means. Urban drew upon his four years of experience with controversial Philadelphia architect Willis G. Hale to create this eclectic and rather unorthodox blending of architectural styles. With the exception of the once-open front porch, the building’s exterior is completely intact, 110 years later.

Urban also designed many of Guzenhauser’s bakery plants, horse stables and wagon sheds to house and support his growing operations throughout Lancaster city and, perhaps, as far away as Harrisburg. The Gunzenhauser story is another example of Urban’s ability not only to secure commissions but also to sustain lasting relationships.

Did Urban design the prominent masonry structure now at 801 N. Prince St.?

The dominant masonry structure that remains today was designed by Philadelphia architect Charles Balderson in 1911. Balderson was considered the leading architect in bakery designs at the time.

What structure did Urban design on the North Prince Street site?

Urban designed 811 N. Prince St., which was a companion structure to Balderson’s building. He also built the support buildings around it.

Did Urban design other bakeries?

Urban may have assisted Gunzenhauser with his successful Harrisburg operation. At this time it remains unattributed.

  • This column is contributed by Gregory J. Scott, FAIA, a local architect with more than four decades of national experience in innovation and design. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows. Email GScott@rlps.com.

You can find links to previous installments in this series here.