Exploring Hanover’s Historic Mansions
By Alan Feiler;Photography by Amy McIntyre Devilbiss
Shoes, pretzels and potato chips. John Luther Long, author of “Madame Butterfly,” and The Pixies – a three-girl vocal group of the early ‘60s.
The borough of Hanover is known for these things and more. But when driving through downtown’s historic district, visitors are often struck by the stately mansions that dot the landscape and afford the area a certain sense of elegance and old-world style. Marvin Muhlhausen, librarian for the Hanover Area Historical Society’s (HAHS) Yelland Research Library and Archives, feels Hanover’s mansions are emblematic of a particularly industrious time in American history.
“They’re best understood from their time period. From 1900 to the 1920s, there were the new capitalists who were just making money and building big houses for their families,” he says. “Hanover is a special town with a lot of great architecture, and it has a rich history of industry.” The following mansions offer a glimpse into that rich history.
The Warehime-Myers Mansion 305 Baltimore Street
Original Owner: C.N. Myers
Considered one of the two crown jewels of Hanover mansion architecture, the Warehime-Myers Mansion was commissioned in 1911 by C.N. Myers. Myers was co-founder of the Hanover Shoe Co. with H.D. Sheppard, and the Myers family lived in the mansion until 1979. (From 1996 to 2007, the mansion was vacant except for serving as the office for the Myers-Miller Foundation.)
But in ways, the Neoclassical mansion today is as much a tribute to its second owner, J. William Warehime, as to the Myers family. Warehime, whose parents founded the Hanover Canning Co. (now Hanover Foods Corp.), donated the mansion to the HAHS in 2007 and died the following year.
“Bill never actually lived here, but he used this mansion for business and entertaining as well as his real estate business,” says HAHS president-elect Jim Schuman. “He grew up across the street and always loved it. So he bought the mansion [in 1996] when it went on the market.”
An avid antiques and curios collector, Warehime decorated the mansion in his eclectic, occasionally kitschy style, and the mansion today reflects that sensibility. It is heavily decorated with Warehime’s taste, though most of the furnishings are not original.
The four-floor mansion features a grand entryway and four large meeting rooms, with an elegant staircase and a pair of sunporches. The first two floors feature 18 rooms (including five bedrooms) while the third floor is replete with a ballroom, billiards room, playroom and guestroom. Most of the mansion’s rooms are filled with trinkets and tchotchkes. “Bill was a buy-aholic,” Schuman says. “Even after he gave us the house, he still bought stuff for it.”
Throughout the house are 13 antique grandfather clocks, Wedgwood and Jasperware pottery, fine china and glassware, Oriental rugs, vases and urns, crystal chandeliers, candelabras, knit pillows with quirky adages, original built-in mirrors, hardwood floors, and three non-functioning fireplaces. There are also legions of large and small sculptures of lions, owls, ducks, geese, frogs, cats, elephants, dogs and Tang horses.
In addition, the mansion has tastefully-decorated gentlemens and ladies parlors, and one bedroom features a magnificent fire screen with a Shogun war scene. The master bedroom overlooks the south lawn, well-manicured with a weeping hemlock and a fountain circling a statue of the Roman god Neptune.
While one room is dedicated to Warehime and his life (ice skates, diplomas, military uniforms, newspaper clippings), another is devoted to the Myers family with a portrait of C.N. Myers and a glass case showcasing his wife Ethel Myers’ flapper gown.
Schuman says tours of the mansion usually require about 75 minutes. Last year, about 600 people visited the mansion, most during the Christmas season. “People are usually pretty blown away when they come in,” he says.
For information, call the HAHS at 717-637-6413 or visit www.hahs.us.
The Sheppard Mansion 117 Frederick Street
Original Owner: H.D. Sheppard
Current Owners: Kathryn Sheppard Hoar & Heather Sheppard Lunn
Built in 1913, the Sheppard Mansion is virtually a mirror image of the Warehime-Myers Mansion, which is four blocks away. That’s because H.D Sheppard and C.N. Myers were co-owners of Hanover Shoe, and both structures were designed by Philadelphia architect Herman Miller.
But since being fully restored in 1999 (after sitting unoccupied for nearly 40 years), the Sheppard Mansion has operated as a bed-and-breakfast, offering six guest rooms with ensuite baths and an exquisite dining room, as well as public spaces for special events and conferences. In 2005, a restaurant was added to the mansion, specializing in farm-to table and local seasonal food, but it closed in 2012.
Five years ago, the Carriage House Market (CHM) opened in the mansion’s old brick-and-cobblestone carriage house. A tabletop and cooking specialty store, the CHM specializes in foods produced from within a radius of approximately 200 miles from Hanover.
The B&B and market are owned and operated by sisters Kathryn Sheppard Hoar and Heather Sheppard Lunn, great-granddaughters of the mansion’s original owners, Henrietta and H.D Sheppard.
Lunn says 90 percent of the mansion’s original furnishings remain in the house, and approximately 70 percent of them are in their original positions.
When touring the 27-room mansion for the first time, she says visitors are usually in awe. “It is really like stepping back in time,” Lunn says. “Crystal chandeliers and hand-painted ceilings – when you close the door behind you, you leave modern times behind.”
Original silk can be found on the walls of the gentlemen’s and ladies’ parlors, and two of the mansion’s bedrooms feature hand-painted ceilings. Arguably, the mansion’s most celebrated feature is the basement duckpin bowling alley – not open to the public – which appeared in the 1999 film “Girl, Interrupted.”
Lunn says the Sheppard and Warehime-Myers mansions are a testament to their original owners and a more genteel era.
“It calls us back to a time when business partners didn’t try to out-do each other,” she says. “The house is a call to civility and a gone-by era of class and luxury. For me, it is a personal time capsule of my family.
“I always encourage people to look up – the chandeliers, the ceilings, the moldings, the use of wood grains, the way the light enters the windows,” Lunn says. “Everything was done with such attention to detail and intention.”
For information about the Sheppard Mansion, call 717-633-8075 or visit www.sheppardmansion.com.
Young Manor 118 Carlisle Street
Original Owner: Howard E. Young
Originally the home of Howard E. Young, president of J.S. Young & Co., Young Manor has been repurposed as an office facility. Located a block north of Center Square, the house has been restored to its former grandeur and is getting a new lease on life.
The 122-year-old structure serves as the offices for State Rep. Kate A. Klunk and the satellite branch of State Sen. Richard L. Alloway II. It is also headquarters of Peoples Bank, Hulson Homes, and the law practice of Amy E.W. Ehrhart.
The current owner of the four-floor, 18,000-square-foot building – which is about 40 percent occupied — is Blue Ridge Holdings, which purchased the property in 2011.
For more than 45 years, the manor, made of sandstone and deep red brick, was home of the Young family. J.S. Young & Co. was a manufacturer of natural dyes, bark extracts, licorice paste and tanning materials.
Young Manor is known for its ornate woodwork, slate roof, marble fireplaces, and copper gutters and downspouts. After Howard E. Young died in 1939, Hanover Shoe occupied the house as a corporate office for more than three decades. The company eventually sold the house to Clarks Bostonian Outlet, which occupied Young Manor for 13 years. The house was bought by Hormel Associates in 1990.
Since purchasing Young Manor, Blue Ridge Holdings has conducted major renovations on the facility, including installing new carpeting and refurbishing its main staircase, as well as numerous energy conservation updates.
Neas House 113 West Chestnut Street
Original Owner: Mathias Neas
Hanover history mavens occasionally differ on whether the Neas House qualifies as a mansion. By today’s standards, the 2 ½-story brick dwelling could hardly be described as being of mansion proportions.
But when built around 1783, the eight-room house—which included a kitchen, attic, cellar, nine fireplaces, and an adjacent 36-acre working farm — was considered a mansion for its era.
The Georgian structure was built by leather tanner and prominent Hanover community member Mathias Neas, who in November of 1782 acquired six lots of land from his brother, George. The former’s son, also named George, inherited the property. He became Hanover’s first burgess (or mayor) in 1815 and served several terms in the state legislature.
His daughter, Amanda Neas Forney, was the last member of their family to live in the house, which features double chimneys, a steep gable roof and a rubble fieldstone foundation. Around the time of the Civil War, the Neas House stopped serving as a private dwelling and was used for commercial purposes. It was an alms house, barbershop, pawn shop, furniture store, and home of the Hanover Savings Fund Society (today PNC Bank).
Purchased by the HAHS in 1973 and restored by the society over a two-year period, the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
For information about the Neas House, call 717-632-3207 or visit www.hahs.us .
Moul House 216 Broadway
Original Owner: Edgar & Clara Moul
Current Owner: Jeff Wrebert
Now owned by Gitt-Moul Historic Properties, the Moul House has been in the hands of the same family for generations. Built in 1915, the Classic Georgian house is currently occupied by Jeff Wrebert, a great-grandson of the original owners, Edgar and Clara Moul. The Moul family was prominent in the area’s lumber and wire cloth businesses.
Bruce Wrebert, Jeff’s brother, estimates the house is between 4,500-5,000 square feet. He says its four floors encompass about 30 rooms, including four bedrooms, as well as two matching rectangular porches with Corinthian columns. The house, featuring an ornate marble cornice on its façade, was designed by the J.A. Dempwolf architectural firm in York.
Besides being a family residence, the house is the headquarters for Gitt-Moul Historic Properties. It is located in the Hanover Historic District.
The Moul House features oak floors with inlaid mahogany, a Florida room with marble floors and benches, a copper roof, and semi-circular windows designed by Clara Moul. There is also a carriage house where the family’s chauffeur lived, which is now used for storage of antiques.
Bruce Wrebert says there have been public tours of the Moul House in the past and could be again in the future.