City Council made it official Tuesday night, voting unanimously to change Lancaster Square’s name to Ewell Plaza in honor of Olympic champion Barney Ewell.
“What a wonderful moment this is for Barney Ewell and for McCaskey High School, his alma mater,” said Jeremiah Miller, coordinator of the McCaskey Alumni Association and a leader of the Barney Ewell Legacy Committee, which led the drive to rename the square on the 100 block of North Queen Street in the heart of Lancaster.
Council’s decision is the right one, Miller said, not just because of Ewell’s fame and athletic achievements, but because “there has never been a personality that Lancastrians loved more,” and no city Ewell loved more than his adopted hometown.
Barney Ewell’s daughter, Denise Ewell, said her father displayed “true character” and “positive spirit and commitment,” both on and off the field, while remaining humble and down to earth.
He set “a true example for everyone to admire and remember,” she said.
Henry Norwood “Barney” Ewell (1918-1996) was considered in his prime to be the fastest man in the world. In 1940, he broke the world record for the 50-yard dash. At the 1948 Olympics he won a gold medal and two silver medals.
Six council members were present in Council Chambers Tuesday. The seventh, Ismail Smith-Wade-El, participated by conference call so he could be part of the historic 7-0 vote.
City officials said last year that Lancaster Square would be renamed as part of its revitalization. The Ewell Legacy Committee has been advocating for Ewell’s name since January.
In July, the city’s Public Art Advisory Board, which was charged with evaluating and recommending potential names, unanimously recommended “Ewell Plaza.”
The board said the committee convincingly demonstrated strong, broad-based support for naming the square after Ewell, providing letters from civic leaders and organizations and a petition with close to 600 signatures.