Jack Brubaker

Jack Brubaker

Dear Dr. Scribblerhome:

I remember seeing the then-closed Home for Friendless Children on South Ann Street in the 1960s. It was demolished for construction of the Garden Court Apartments. What can you tell us about the home? When was it built? When and why did it close? I only remember it as a rather spooky old building.

Fred Benson

Pasadena, California

Dear Fred:

The Home for Friendless Children opened in 1860. The home stopped serving its original purpose in 1941 and was demolished in 1966. So it goes.

A county grand jury inspected properties in what was then termed Lancaster’s “Institutional District” — including the county home (now Conestoga View nursing home), the children’s home and the county prison — in June 1941. The grand jury recommended minor repairs to the four-story brick children’s home sited on an 8-acre plot bounded by Ann Street, East End Avenue, and Marshal and Dauphin streets.

Nevertheless, the Lancaster County commissioners assumed the assets and debts of the children’s home for $8,000, farmed out its occupants to foster homes and closed the building the next autumn.

In 1943, the State Department of Health leased the building and used it as an isolation hospital for “girls and women suspected of having a venereal disease.”

The state at some point abandoned its operation, and in 1955 the county commissioners sold the old children’s home to the state. The state-owned Stevens Trade School (now Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology) tentatively planned to turn the building into a dormitory.

In 1963,when South Broad Street was being planned to cut through county home property east of Stevens, the school purchased 12 acres adjoining the school from the county commissioners. Stevens ditched the children’s home project.

In 1966, the state sold the children’s home and its 8 acres — the largest “open space”' in Lancaster’s original 4-square-mile area — to developers. They demolished the building late that year.

Garden Court Apartments, a 264-apartment complex, was built in 1970.

(This is interesting: The Civil War began the year after the Home for Friendless Children opened. Pleas for donations during the war years noted that some fathers of children were away fighting for the Union.)

Dear Dr. Scribblernorm:

The newsletter of the Lower Windsor Historical Society recently carried a notice of a 1910 graduate of the Red Lion Normal Teachers School. Were there more normal schools around that did not become part of the state system?

Ken Hoak

Conestoga Township

Dear Ken:

Yes. The Scribbler has found a reference in a York County history not only to the Red Lion Normal School but to a separate York County Normal School. Neither, obviously, joined the Pennsylvania system, which today includes Millersville University (originally the Lancaster County Normal School).

Ginger Shelley, who has written a book on local one-room schools, has been working on the journal of a man who was principal of the “Manheim School.” He taught younger students, but he also taught older students to become certified teachers.

sely speaking, any school that taught students to be teachers could be called a normal school,” she says. “In essence, that principal had a normal school that could have been called the ‘Manheim Normal School.’ ”

Given this information that at least three “normal schools” in Lancaster and York counties did not make it into the state university system, one might suspect that dozens of other normal schools existed and expired statewide.

— Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at scribblerlnp@gmail.com.