September 2009

Fleet Wing_2-tone
Name: Fleet Wing, aka A&W Jewelry
Address: 49 West King Street
Built: c. 1940
Architect: Unknown

This sleek little relic began life as a filling station for Fleet Wing gasoline in the early 1940s, when few other buildings of any kind were going up downtown.  While it would only serve this purpose for a few short years, the building kept a decidedly bird-themed identity for decades.  In 1944 it was converted to the Bluebird Grill, and in 1950 became the Pelican Bar and Grill.  For almost twenty-five years, a large neon pelican sat atop an electric marquee sign mounted to the building.  Today, however, only a vaguely avian tv antennae keeps company with the graceful red silhouetted bird of the surviving original logo.

The building is clad in a colorful palate of porcelain enamel, a then-state-of-the-art material favored for its ease of maintenance and streamlined appearance.  A decade later, this same material would be used in mass-produced all-steel Lustron houses, an evolutionary dead-end but now a cult classic of mid-century architecture.  For more on Lustron, click here.



Address: 302-306 West Vine Street

Built: c.1890

Architect: Unknown

In certain pockets of the city, the lock-step march of Lancaster’s ubiquitous Victorian rowhouses encountered topographical and street grid abnormalities that forced otherwise by-the-book builders to improvise.  One of the best examples of this vernacular free-form is at the five-corner intersection of Vine, Mulberry and Strawberry Streets, where this teetering cluster of turrets, chimneys, bay windows, porches and balconies turns a hilly corner.  It is enough to make Frank Gehry blush.

Slide 5-8

East King Street (B. Leech, August 2009)

Given that Kodachrome film has been on a nationwide backorder for the last few months, the Lancaster Kodachrome Campaign has been off to an understandably slow start.  But while rolls are still unavailable locally, New York City’s venerable B&H Photo is now restocked and selling online HERE, though they expect their current stock to run out within the week.

The Lancaster Building Conservancy also has a few extra rolls for the cause, and will donate one (1) to each of the first three (3) people who contribute five (5) new photos to our Flickr group.  Email for more details.