C. Emlen Urban – Part 7

Urban takes his show on the road

The year is 1898. It has been12 years since the 35-year-old architect hung his “Open for Business” shingle.  During those 12 short years C. Emlen Urban designed many private homes, multiple mansions, a school, a department store, a café, a small hotel, a cigar factory, a farmer’s market and several commercial structures. His reputation for producing high quality designs that were both timely and innovative was growing.  However, as impressive as the 1898 Beaux Arts Watt & Shand Department Store and the very stylistic four-story Davidson Buildings were – it was a pair of unpretentious three-story residences located on West Chestnut Street that caught the eye of a New York City real estate developer and ultimately took Urban’s work on the road.  The Italian Renaissance style was growing in popularity across the country and Urban’s Lancaster City was no exception.

Defined by distinctive low pitched, hipped roofs with red barrel tile shingles, deep overhangs and exposed decorative rafter tails, these identical twin residences were a radical departure from the traditional Queen Anne and Federal style designs that lined the streets of the city. However, the real Italian flair can be seen in Urban’s use of terra cotta putti or cupid statuary over the second floor windows and in the third floor medallions. There is little doubt that the New York developer was impressed by Urban’s attention to detail, proportions and use of materials, but his attraction most likely focused on the upper floor level where Urban’s ability to successfully integrate functional building elements into his designs with grace and beauty was demonstrated.

Read the full LNP article:  Lancaster’s Architect Takes his Show on the Road