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Pa. residents track down architect's legacy

September 19, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Gleaning phrases from turn-of-the-century newspaper clippings, two Waynesboro residents learned very little about houses being built for prominent Tri-State businessmen.

Often armed with only the homeowner's name and town, they started flipping through city directories and matching the addresses to modern-day maps.

Then Paul Engelstad and Caryl Stalick knocked on doors, finding more than 120 houses and buildings designed by J.W. Woltz, who rose to prominence as a Waynesboro-based architect from 1893 to 1918.

"Every time we'd discover he had done houses ... we'd go there," Stalick said.

"After going to so many houses, you start to feel 'This is a Woltz house,'" Engelstad said.

Their passion for Woltz's designs has resulted in a 107-page timeline of his work, which Engelstad and Stalick recently shared at a reception on the porch of the grandiose "Tipahato" home in Sabillasville, Md.

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"Even if we only knew he built this house, this would be enough to celebrate his life," Engelstad remarked as he admired the mix of bungalow/craftsman, late Victorian Queen Anne, colonial revival and American foursquare styles. Engelstad believes Woltz "had fun" as he designed the summer cottage for Katharine Taylor of Baltimore in 1906.

Engelstad and Stalick, acting as preservationists, had fun themselves gathering the information.

"This could be something that turns into a coffee-table book about architects in the Cumberland Valley," Engelstad said. The pair also have found information on architects H.E. Kessler, A.J. Klinkhart and S.K. Yaukey, as well as local builders and contractors.

The process began six months ago when Engelstad set out to learn more about the man who built and resided in the house on East Second Street in Waynesboro where Engelstad lives.

The research has relied heavily on resources in the greater Waynesboro area, especially those provided by the Rev. Lee Daywalt, administrator of the Preserving our Heritage Archives and Museum in South Mountain, Pa.

"The people who are interested in this make it fun," Engelstad said.

The clues have taken the group involved on a journey to towns including Chambersburg, Mont Alto, Blue Ridge Summit, South Mountain, Shippensburg, Waynesboro and Greencastle in Pennsylvania; Charles Town, Blairton and Martinsburg in West Virginia; and New Windsor, Beaver Creek, Hagerstown, Cascade, Hancock, Sabillasville and Frederick in Maryland. They also connected Engelstad and Stalick to a town in Ohio, where they tracked down Woltz's 80-year-old granddaughter, Joanne Funk Hagan, who drove to the reception with her daughter and grandson.

Once there, Woltz's living family members were able to nod their heads in recognition along with Woltz homeowners as Engelstad and Stalick listed recognizable Tri-State architecture - the Clayton Avenue and Snider Avenue schools, St. Andrew's Catholic Church and Hoover House in Waynesboro; the first sanitarium in South Mountain; houses in Hagerstown; and several schools in West Virginia.

Woltz's attention to detail can still be seen in many of the homes as they stand today, according to Engelstad.

"You just have to see his penmanship to see how precise he is," Engelstad said.

Woltz, who lived from 1855 to 1918, grew distressed late in his life when the building committee overseeing the construction of Waynesboro's Arcade Theatre opted to bypass his recommendation for seating and selected a less expensive alternative. Woltz paid the difference between the two options, filling the theater with 1,056 seats.

The Arcade Theatre, which spanned 82 feet on Main Street, was demolished in the 1960s.

"Maybe three-quarters of his work is remaining," Engelstad said.

"A lot of schools have disappeared," Stalick said. "They have been torn down or burned."

People who believe their house or business was built by Woltz and not included in the research can call Daywalt at 717-749-3818 or 717-749-3826.

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