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History of Lancaster County Pennsylvania!

Lancaster County SIgnHard to believe, but Lancaster County was once part of Chester County. The area was part of the William Penn Charter, granted Penn by the king of England. Lancaster was named for Lancaster in England, and it appropriated the red rose, symbol of the House of Lancaster, the British royal house which engaged in the War of the Roses with the House of York, whose banners carried the white rose. Lancaster was chartered as a borough in 1742 but was not incorporated as a city until 1818. The Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, built in 1795, linked Lancaster and Philadelphia; there are still old inns standing along the highway. Lancaster was the capital of the American colonies when Philadelphia was captured by the British. After meeting one day, September 27, 1777, the patriots moved the capital to York.

Lancaster was settled primarily by immigrants from Germany and Switzerland. These were Mennonites and Amish, the Plain people, and also the German Lutheran and Reformed sects. The Mennonites and Amish are represented by different groups. The Amish are by far more adverse to adopting modern or “English” ways. The Mennonites range from those using horse and buggy, living without electricity and wearing conservative dress, to those whose daily lives differ little from other local residents’. In the western part of the county, many settlers arrived from Scotland and Northern Ireland and are memorialized by the Donegal “Witness Tree”. Under the tree in front of their Presbyterian church, the residents swore allegiance to the cause of Independence for the United States.

Fulton Opera House Lancaster PennsylvaniaThe Fulton Opera House, completed in October 1852, claims to be the oldest theatre giving continuous performances in the United States. Milton Hershey founded the Lancaster Caramel company in 1886 the parent of the present day company. In 1879 F.W.Woolworth opened his first store on Lancaster’s Queen Street. Local businesses are Armstrong World Industries, Alcoa, Kellog’s, R.R. Donnelly and Sons, to mention only a few.

Although noted primarily for its lush farms and the Plain Sects who immigrated here for religious freedom, Lancaster has much more to offer to the tourist. The city itself is a showcase of many types of architecture, dating to the early 1700’s. It is home to many classic churches and historic homes. Downtown Lancaster is graced by the Lancaster Farmers’ Market, an operating market for many years. Just west of the center of town lies Wheatland, the home of President Buchanan. Robert Fulton, builder of the Clermont steamboat was a native of Lancaster County.

Lancaster is home to Franklin and Marshall College, Millersville University and Harrisburg Area Community College. Nearby are Elizabethtown College and Lebanon Valley College.

The area is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. There has been an upswing in the number of cultural events, and a proliferation of fine restaurants. New residents are attracted by the beautiful countryside as well as the many opportunities for employment.

View more photos of downtown historic Lancaster Pennsylvania

Georgian Mansion in Historic Downtown Lancaster

View more photos of downtown historic Lancaster Pennsylvania


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