The Adams project, the Lancaster Redevelopment Authority's first large-scale effort at rehabilitation rather than clearance, encompassed 24 blocks covering 88 acres in the southeast quadrant. There were approximately 1200 structures in the project area, 900 of which were designated for rehabilitation. The structures that were demolished provided space for new public housing, parking, semi-public facilities, and recreational use.

Redevelopment Authority director Paul F. Miller described the Adams project as "urban renewal in its best sense, saving those parts which can be saved, replacing those which are uneconomical to save." The authority's brochure describing the rehabilitation program expressed the hope that renewal would "assure better living conditions for the occupant, a healthy neighborhood environment, the stemming of the spread of blight, and a sustained sales and rental market for the dwelling after rehabilitation." Courtesy, Bureau of Planning, City of Lancaster.

Adams Before Renewal: 300 Block of North Street

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Boarded up buildings on the 300 block of North Street, structures that were once homes to generations of Lancastrians but which had been condemned and slated for demolition.



Abandoned Frame House

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This unidentified photograph, from the Adams-Musser Towns urban renewal area, documents the extent of blight in Lancaster. Structures such as the one at the right often stood adjacent to inhabited dwellings: note the electrical lines extending to the two homes at the left, and the new storm door at the far left. These structures, in the vicinity of Rockland and North streets, were among the 125 buildings initially slated for demolition in the clearance phase of the Adams project. Photograph May 5, 1963. Courtesy, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc



Demolition of the American Caramel Company


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The area of the Adams project had the oldest buildings and the highest population density in Lancaster. Numerous industries added to the noise and pollution of the predominantly residential neighborhood. The American Caramel Company, located on Church Street, was one of the largest factories in the Adams project. Burned in 1957, it was razed in 1965. Courtesy, Bureau of Planning, City of Lancaster.


The Benefits of Rehabilitation I

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The Adams project involved the rehabilitation of approximately 900 of 1200 dwellings within the project area. Inspectors examined each of the 900 houses and compiled "write ups," which informed property owners of what repairs they should undertake to meet renewal code standards. Owners who did not make repairs within three years risked having their properties seized. In an article announcing the commencement of the rehabilitation phase, the New Era published these photographs to illustrate the dramatic improvement such repairs would make. Photographs published in the Lancaster New Era, Nov. 22, 1964. Courtesy, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.



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Demonstration House

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Located at 70-72 Locust Street, the Redevelopment Authority's Demonstration House was completed in August 1967. Earl Young, supervisor of rehabilitation, described the Demonstration House as an "educational tool" that would teach residents how to renovate their dwellings. Interior changes were often extensive, but treatment of the facade was usually a matter of scraping, sanding, and painting. Artist's rendition of intended effect by L. Engstrom, photographed by Ed Sachs, Mar. 15, 1967. Courtesy, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. Other photographs courtesy, Bureau of Planning, City of Lancaster.



Armstrong Houses


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As a contribution to the community, and as an experiment to test the applicability of its product lines for rehabilitation of older structures, in the summer of 1967 Armstrong Cork Company purchased seven single family homes in the 500 block of the Adams project area. Completed in May 1968, Armstrong subsequently sold the buildings to new homeowners to help relieve the shortage of affordable housing in the southeast area of the city. Photograph published in the Intelligencer Journal, Aug. 23, 1967. Courtesy, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.



Part IV: New Neighborhoods for Old

The Higbee Project
The Duke Street Project
The Church-Musser Project

Urban Renewal in Retrospect