The Trust’s Position on the Farmer’s Southern Market

The mission of the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County is to advocate for the preservation of significant historic structures in Lancaster County. The Farmer’s Southern Market is a significant structure because of its unique architecture designed by C. Emlen Urban, Lancaster’s premier architect, and because the city government in 1986 believed it worthy of listing on the National Historic Register. Listing on the Register can help build pride in the history of the community. Such listings can serve as educational tools to help understand why properties are important and as planning tools. Commercial rehabilitation of structures listed on the Register that meet the “Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings” are eligible for a 20% tax credit.

Listing on the Register does not place restrictions on the property owner, nor does it preserve the property in the future. Listing on the Register will not stop any private, local or federally funded projects or require review of those projects. There are 57 structures in Lancaster City listed on the National Register. In 1999, the Watt and Shand Department Store was listed on the Register for the purpose to receive a 20% tax credit. The building was removed from the National Register in 2007 because construction did not comply with the Department of Interior Standards and the tax credit was subsequently denied.

The façade of the Watt and Shand Department Store remains today because the Trust held an easement on the structure. Unlike listing on the Register, an easement does protect the property in perpetuity. The Trust holds easements on 27 properties in Lancaster County including the preserved Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site. These properties were privately owned when the easements were created. Property owners place easements on structures because they have a passion to preserve the structure or because they may qualify for financial benefits like tax credits. To create an easement, the Trust and property owner agree on a baseline condition of the structure. The terms of the easement then define the responsibilities of the Trust and owner to comply with the baseline. The property owner is required to maintain the structure in the physical condition described in the baseline. The Trust is required to monitor the structure for compliance with the baseline and defend the easement against any challenge to the terms or the baseline.

The Farmer’s Southern Market was listed in the National Register in 1986. At that time, the City of Lancaster owned the property. Lancaster architect, Eugene Aleci, prepared the Nomination Form for the Register. The nomination form includes detailed descriptions of the building’s architectural features including the imposing, symmetrical façade facing South Queen Street. At the pedestrian level, one of the building’s most conspicuous features is a wooden awning, spanning the width of the building and extending over the sidewalk. An impressive feature of the exterior of the market is its’ arched roof.

The nomination form includes a history of the nineteenth century private markets in Lancaster including the Farmer’s Southern Market. The Farmers’ Southern Market thrived from 1888 until 1951 when it was sold to the city with the intention of building a parking garage. This plan was thwarted by public opposition and defeated in a public referendum. The market finally closed in 1986 and the city retained ownership. If in 1986 the city government wished to preserve the market in perpetuity then they could have placed an easement on the structure that would define a baseline and terms for enforcement. The persons who listed the market on the Nation Register in 1986 are the best suited to relate to the current city government their intentions for the Farmers’ Southern Market. The Historic Preservation Trust continues our mission to advocate for the preservation of significant structures in Lancaster County.


HPT Board of Directors