Looking Back: Franklin County’s history April 18th

Franklin County’s history

Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on April 18th.

25 Years Ago

April 18, 1996 – Thursday

“Church to tear down house”

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Boro historians bemoan decision

Messiah United Methodist Church in Shippensburg will soon have a new parking lot thanks to a recent decision by Borough Council.

In a 4-3 vote with the mayor casting the tie-breaker, council members approved the razing of a church-owned house at 23 S. Penn St.  A 41 -stall parking lot will take its place.

Mayor Tim Costanza, who votes only to break a tie, voted yes because the church is in dire need of more parking.

Council’s ruling reversed a decision by the borough’s Historic Architectural Review Board that said “the removal would create a hole in the streetscape similar to a front tooth missing in a smile.”

The board also maintains that the house has historical value.

The church, 30 S. Penn St., has 55 parking spots but needs about 400 more to accommodate its 600 parishioners.  The lot, which will be across from the church, will stretch from South Penn Street to South Gettle Avenue.

“You can see we have a major problem with parking,” said David Perkins, an attorney for the church.

The church also owns an adjacent house at 25 S. Penn St. but has no immediate plans to demolish it for a parking lot.

“I’m concerned that you don’t buy all of South Penn Street to make a parking lot,” said Councilman W. Edward Goodhart, who voted to allow the razing.

HARB, a seven-member board that regulates razing, renovation and construction of buildings in the borough’s historic district, also listed these reasons:

  • The style of the house is unique and attractive.  
  • To destroy a building in the middle of a residential area for a parking lot would not be good historic preservation.
  • The buildings at 23 and 25 S. Penn St. were the first location of Shippensburg Historical Society.

About 45 parishioners turned out to hear council’s decision.  “Our main concern is we wanted to use this property the way we wanted to,” said Sheila Malone, a church leader. “It’s not that historic.”

Church members argued the two-story house built in the 1930s was termite-infested and needed extensive renovations.

President Michael Pimental, Jack Sease and David Lovett voted “no,” while Goodhart, James Faust and Harold Eutzy voted “yes.”

“We’re about to wipe out what was a small part of the history of Shippensburg,” Lovett said.

50 Years Ago

April 18, 1971 – Sunday

“Area Forest Fires Cause Little Damage”

County's history April 18th
Pall of Smoke Rises from Blue Ridge Area Forest Fires

District Forester Kenneth Swartz said approximately 10 acres of state forest land were burned in a series of small blazes over the weekend.

Swartz said there was only one fire Friday, the day Governor Milton Shapp issued an executive proclamation restricting all burning in wooded areas.  That blaze, he said, was located just east of Blue Ridge Summit.

Three fires were reported Saturday in various locations and one early today along the High Mountain Road, just west of Pine Grove Furnace Park.  All were reported extinquished quickly with minimal damage.

Swartz did not indicate if any, of the blazes were incendiary.  He said, however, the light rain “helped over Saturday night.”  But he indicated the dry conditions returned by noon Sunday.  

Sparks from the wheels of a passing train caused fires in nine locations Sunday near Blue Ridge Summit.  The Blue Ridge Mountain Volunteer Fire Company was called to fight the blazes.

Fire Chief Harry Mc CIain said today there is no estimate on the amount of acreage burned as yet, but it covered the area from the Pen Mar Park Road beyond the Blue Mountain Road and close to the government High Rock Tower.

Assisting fire companies were called in from Smithsburg, Md., Fort Ritchie, Md. and Fountaindale, Md., and an estimated 50 volunteers appeared on the scene to help Blue Ridge.

McCIain said his company left the fire at 10:30 p.m., but a railroad patrol was continued during the night to check the hot spots.  

The Waynesboro Fire Department responded to a call Sunday at noon to the College Farm on Route 16 beyond Five Forks.  Mont Alto was called in the meantime as hay burned in the barn.

 The fire was quickly extinguished. Damage was slight.  The forest fire danger has been increased by unusually dry spring weather and high winds.

100 Years Ago

April 18, 1921 – Monday

“Burning gasoline brings out firemen”

Chambersburg – A blaze of gasoline, being used in cleaning a taxi of the H. G. Hockersmith line in the garage on Ludwig avenue, caused a general fire alarm to be sent in from Box 35, Third and Washington street, last evening at 5:10 o’clock.  

A taxi driver was cleaning parts of the engine when the gasoline ignited.  The blazing auto was pushed into Ludwig avenue and the fire extinguished With a garden hose.


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