henry y. shaub collage

Architect Henry Y. Shaub, shown in a vintage photograph from LancasterHistory.org's collection, surrounded by some of the local buildings he designed. How many can you identify?

Following our multipart series on architect C. Emlen Urban, this is the first in a series that will focus on another architect whose talents had an impact on the Lancaster County we still live in every day.

Although his portfolio of local work was varied and his list of clients impressive, Henry Y. Shaub’s real fame as an architect was what he was able to accomplish in the classroom. This Lancaster native was acknowledged throughout the eastern United States as the leading authority on school design. He would sit among the students to understand how the physical environment, including natural light, acoustics and special relationships, could affect their ability to learn.

A rising star in his own right, this young architect was often overshadowed, but not intimidated, by his 24-year-older contemporary C. Emlen Urban. At 25, Shaub struck out on his own and promptly entered and won a nationwide competition to design the highly sought-after Lancaster YWCA commission in 1915.

Little has been written about this noteworthy architect who followed in the footsteps of Urban. He not only continued to reshape the architectural landscape of our community, but also to shape the minds of our children through designing better environments for learning.

This series will focus on the diversified work of architect Shaub, including the Lancaster YWCA (c. 1915); Posey Iron Works (c. 1918); Shaub Shoe Store (c. 1929); Manheim Township's Brecht Elementary School (c. 1929); J.P. McCaskey High School in School District of Lancaster (c. 1936); and Groff Funeral Home (c. 1950) —just to name a few.

Shaub’s innovation and bold design ideas earned him an honor that only 3% of all architects achieve: being named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. The fellowship distinction is reserved for architects who have made outstanding contributions to the profession.

Was Shaub related to architect C. Emlen Urban?

Yes, but not directly. Henry Shaub’s niece, Jean Shaub, married Urban’s grandson, Howard Herr Jr., in 1947, eight years after Urban’s death.

Were Urban and Shaub competitors?

Yes, their careers overlapped by approximately 25 years, from 1912 to 1937. Following Urban’s death in 1939, Shaub retained many of Urban's former clients.

In addition to schools, what other building types did Shaub design?

His portfolio is rich in diversity, including private residences, a post office, hardware and clothing stores, a dry cleaning business, properties for the Junior League, Elks, American Legion, Kiwanis Camp, Iris Club and Kappa Sigma fraternity and Hubley Toys.

  • 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.