Some Williamsport residents ready to let former factory, furniture store go

January 19, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • The Sheetz at the intersection of Potomac Street and Artizan Street could move to the other side of Artizan Street, which might mean the abandoned building on the Red Barron property could be torn down.
By Caleb Calhoun, Staff Writer

WILLIAMSPORT — Maurice Snyder, who has lived in Williamsport for all of his 97 years, said he can remember the overall factory at the intersection of Potomac and Artizan streets.

"We lived on a farm and bought a pair or two of those overalls," he said. "We thought, living on a farm, we were dressed when we wore a pair of the overalls."

Snyder — a Williamsport historian according to town Councilwoman Joan Knode — said the Barnhart Overall Factory occupied the now-vacant building on the Red Barron property.

"We called them coveralls at the time," Snyder said. "I remember salesmen selling them in stores."

The building, which Snyder said became a hosiery mill after World War II and then the Red Barron Furniture and Bedding store, could be torn down as part of plans to move a Sheetz store on the other side of Artizan Street to that side, according to a published report in December.

Dick Ebersole, 68, lives in Hagerstown but grew up in Williamsport and works as a park ranger there.

"I remember it being a stocking factory; after that, it sold carpet and those kinds of things," he said.

Ebersole said that although it would be nice to keep the building in use, it should be torn down if nothing can be put in it.

"It's one of those buildings that if you don't tear it down you don't know what to do with it," he said.

Walter Williams, 65, who has lived in Williamsport since he was 13, said he remembers not just that building but the whole corner.

"I remember when it was a hosiery mill, and where the Sheetz is now, there was another service station," he said. "Dr. Ralph Young was also at that corner, and we'd go to him if we had a cold."

Knode said that the corner provided services that people throughout the town could use.

"People went to the library, went to the park for fun, then could go to the doctor," she said. "Almost every corner in the town provided services for people."

Williams said he wouldn't mind if the building were torn down.

"I think it's an ugly building, and I don't see any historical value of it," he said. "A new Sheetz would spruce it up; we need businesses in this town."

Snyder didn't say what he thought should be done with the building, but said the town has a big opportunity to promote that intersection.

"Coming into Williamsport, people could be visiting or passing through or looking for something to remember," he said. "I'd like to see them come to a decision."

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