“Watt & Shand Department Store”

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My paper will examine the cultural and historical importance of C. Emlen Urban’s work and then discuss Preservation policies that would show why it was important to save the Watt and Shand façade, Montgomery House, and the Thaddeus Stevens house.

 A. Introduction

B. C. Emlen Urban 

1. Biography/background information

2. Cultural and historical importance of his work

            C. Watt & Shand Building 

1. Venustas, Firmitas, Utilitas of Watt & Shand building

D. Preservation Policy

            1. Convention Center debate

            2. Architect’s decisions 

E. Conclusion

 The research question that I am asking is why the town of Lancaster and the owners of the Marriot decided to keep the façade of the Watt and Shand department store located in Penn square, the heart of Lancaster city where many of the oldest, most historically significant buildings are located.  What were the policy decision that were made?  How did they structurally keep the façade while gutting the rest of the department store? What were the particular troubles in designing a new building with a pre-existing façade?  Additionally, how did the architects keep the Montgomery House and the Thaddeus Stevens home viewable from the street but the Marriot is somehow built around these two historic homes?  What compromises were made between Lancaster citizens, the owners of the convention center, and the architect along with concerns from the Lancaster Historical Society. 

I will study the blueprints of the structure and the façade of the Watt & Shand building at the Lancaster Historical Society.  I am planning on examining photos that I will access at the Lancaster Historical Society’s online website and look at them in person if further examination is required.  The Shadek-Fackenthall Library has copies of old Lancaster Intelligencer newspapers online, which I will use to look at the media’s representation of the debate.  I will also peruse the website of the Lancaster Historic Preservation Trust.  Furthermore, I will call the Marriot convention center to locate the blueprints for the Marriot itself and inquire were I can locate them if the blueprints are not stored at the hotel itself.

 I will return to the Lancaster Historical Society on Wednesday, March 21 following spring break.  If I need to further examine the blueprints of the old department store I will also make an appointment with Heather Tennies approximately on Wednesday, April 4th if necessary. 

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2 Responses to ““Watt & Shand Department Store””

  1. Randolph Carney Says:

    I have detailed photographs of the demolition and building process, from the start of demolition until the completion of construction. The facade was retained purely for political reasons, to put a familiar face on a facility that will always cost taxpayers many times whatever benefit might be derived from it.

    The Watt & Shand building was on the National Register of Historic Places before its demolition. Almost all of the building was steel-framed, except for a small portion along E. King St. (I have the pictures to prove it).

    Note that the structure of the new building behind it is made up of immense concrete columns, many times larger than would be necessary for a building with four floors. It makes no reasonable sense whatsoever that reinforced poured concrete was used instead of steel for the new building’s structure.

  2. Donna Says:

    I worked at Watt & Shand in 1989 through 1990. I loved that old building! I would be very interested to see the photographs you spoke of.

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