Southern Market: 100 South Queen Street



Southern Market was completed in September 1888 and constructed by C. Emlen Urban, representing his first major commission for a large-scale building. Originally, the two freestanding houses that occupied the lot were built for Urban’s father and uncle, but were sold in 1877. The function of a market house, in general, was to serve as a marketplace on the street level, to serve public functions on the upper floors, and to support a stable society. Because of Lancaster’s rich farmland, market houses were built in each quadrant of the city, in conjunction with a central market. In 1887, a committee was formed called the Farmer’s Southern Market House Company, created by businessmen interested in establishing a market in the city’s southern section. The presence of an overhanging eave, spanning the length of the building’s east façade, infers an outdoor venue for vendors, which was a common element for any market house. The four sets of doors and windows, located on the same side, facing South Queen Street, suggest an allure to passersby and an entryway accessible for a mass amount of people. Two terra cotta heads of a ram and a bull represent this building’s specific function, as a market. From my observations, it’s vast levels and multiple stories made it the perfect venue for its unique purpose. Although the building is still clearly labeled “Farmers Southern Market” and “Southern Market Center,” it no longer functions as so. Since the late 1980s, when the city closed the market, after it had been running for 98 years prior, it has housed Lancaster’s Visitors Bureau, offices and Council Chambers.


Southern Market’s structure consists of a three-story 90-foot wide head house, facing South Queen Street and a two-story market house that extends 250 feet along West Vine Street, atthe corner of South Queen and West Vine. The building is made of red brick, slate, stone, and wood. Corbelled brickwork is also present along the cornice and the center gable includes the date, “1888,” within the triangular pediment. This represents the year in which the building was completed. Two terra cotta heads of a ram and bull are displayed within roundels, at the third-floor level, showing the building’s distinct function. It has a symmetrical façade that is divided by brick pilasters into bays.  The two towers, which are placed evenly on both sides of the center gable, have shed dormers and pyramid-shaped roofs, each topped with iron finials. Along the elevation, the structure’s arched roof visibly spans the entire building. The overhanging eave that spans along the east façade of the building is made of wood and serves to shield pedestrians.


Similar to some of Urban’s other buildings, Southern Market was built in the Queen Anne style (a building with “free renaissance details”), which is distinctively emphasized in the dominant front-facing gable, towers, and overhanging eaves. It also has many Victorian elements, such as its brickwork, windows and corner towers. Because of such elements being present in many of his projects, it was inferred that Urban was inspired by Victorian pattern books. Based on my observations,I would characterize the building as formal because it has a divisive plan and a symmetrical structure.



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