Churches of Lancaster Architecture Project

Kostis Kourelis, an art history professor at F&M, will be teaching a course this spring called Lancaster: The Architecture of Faith. Dr. Kourelis explains:

First United Methodist Church as it appeared in 1946
First United Methodist Church as it appeared in 1946

One of the first exercises that the students will do is to complete a GIS database of all the religious communities practicing today and sort through the architectural spaces in which they worship. Then, we will move backwards in time, consulting Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, archival documents, photos, and genealogies from the Lancaster County Historical Society, the Franklin and Marshall Archive, and the Historic Preservation Trust. …

The complete list of places of worship in Lancaster adds up to 170. For the first assignment, each student will be assigned 10 of the listings and must conduct an architectural inspection.

Yes, Ethan, Wheatland is on the list. No, Ken, LCBC is not. Also on the list is the Unitarian Universalist church, all three synagogues, and the mosque.

Also, don’t miss Dr. Kourelis’s post on the Lancaster Building Conservancy, which I mentioned recently in relation to the Turkey Hill Experience, in which he writes:

It’s a wonderful project, the brain child of preservationist Ben Leech. I met Ben for lunch last week and got to know him a little. The Lancaster Building Conservancy and Ben’s other blog, Old Weird Lancaster, constitute for me a new kind of historical activism or grass roots architectural history. Blogging and the web have provided a platform for exciting and innovative projects. …On this blog, I’ve occassionally been critical of photographic projects (like Flickr communities) because they lack documentational discipline. Ben’s LBC is quite the opposite. The weekly drawing provides the foundation for a well-researched and articulate analysis. I hope Ben’s images have a post-blog afterlife. I hope they turn into an exhibition or a book.

Writing of an F&M professor reminds me that I’m curious to learn what Trexler Proffitt is up to with the local stock exchange idea he has been researching.

New York Times Magazine Includes F&M Prof in ‘Year in Ideas’

Each year, the New York Times Magazine captures the defining ideas of the past twelve months. “The Year In Ideas 2008” issue comes out tomorrow, and guess what they included?

The aptly-named Trexler Proffitt deserves kudos. Photo courtesy of F&M's newsletter, The Diplomat.

They included the work of Franklin & Marshall College’s Trexler Proffitt, the Lancaster professor who conducted a feasibility study this year on establishing a Lancaster stock exchange that would serve seven counties in Central PA. The Times categorizes the idea under the phenomenon of “locavestors.”

Most of my day is spent dealing with minutiae, but I’m very fortunate because it’s often very meaningful minutiae. I arranged for Prof. Proffitt and two of his students to meet for an in-depth discussion with the man who puts the “executive” in my “executive assistant” title (Tom Baldrige, president of The Lancaster Chamber) earlier this year as part of their feasibility study. It’s nothing boast-worthy, but it is an affirmation that what I am contributing, I’m contributing toward something good.

Here’s to the world’s foremost newspaper identifying Lancaster as a place that is germinating innovative ideas!

Lancaster County Community Foundation Grants

The Lancaster County Community Foundation announced its latest round of grants in a press release dated Friday. Here is what I consider to be especially notable. My comments are in italics below.

From the press release: “Arts and culture non-profit organizations play a significant economic development role in Lancaster County, contributing $28 million to the community and creating 800 full time jobs. The Community Foundation is committed to bolstering the economic impact of arts organizations and arts-related businesses by encouraging their sustainability and growth.”


  • Water Street Rescue Mission – $27,000
    To create a Client Management Database, which will enhance homeless data collection for Lancaster County. Funding provided by the Margaret R. Eppihimer Fund.
    I have no doubt that we are going to see nonprofits evolving greater capacity as “think tanks.” In a knowledge economy, the collection and intelligent interpretation of information will become both possible and necessary to improve services and to achieve community goals. People solving problems need information and good ideas.
  • Lancaster Investment in a Vibrant Economy (L.I.V.E.) – $27,104
    To help organizations implement environmentally preferable practices through The Green Facilities Partnership between LIVE Green, the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Green Seal Inc. Funding provided by the Lancaster Environmental Fund.
    We’re all interested to see to what degree businesses de-prioritize greening their operations, given the current economic climate. Many are already putting short-term survival over solving longer-term problems.
  • Lancaster Symphony Orchestra – $22,000
    For the Music Discovery Experience in the City of Lancaster. The program includes 3 performances at McCaskey High School, 20 instrument petting zoos, and the Symphony’s instrument loan program in the fall. Funding provided by the Sam & Verda Taylor Fund for the Performing Arts.
    I will be watching this program with interest. When funds are limited for education and the arts, I wonder what is a better approach—a “shotgun” attempt to expose lots of kids in a shallow way, or a highly-focused attempt to give talented kids a huge boost (e.g., sponsoring intense private lessons).
  • Fulton Opera House Foundation – $11,600
    Will support and expand the theatre’s Audio Described, American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreted, and Spanish Interpreted performance programs. Funding provided by the Sam & Verda Taylor Fund for the Performing Arts.
    One question is, will this actually help people, or just make Fulton patrons feel better about themselves?
  • SouthEast Lancaster Health Services – $33,890
    SELHS’ Healthy Start Program is designed to improve children’s health from age 0-5 through a comprehensive approach including prenatal care, parent/child education and pediatric care. Funding provided by the Better Lancaster Fund.
    From everything I hear, SELHS sounds like one of the best charitable operations going in the county.


  • Demuth Foundation & Museum – $20,000
    To implement new graphic and web identities to align the museum’s public image with its mission and programs, and generate local and national interest, membership, and sustainability.
    It’s unfortunate that while this museum is important, it’s not great. It should be great. I wonder if projected-image enhancement is the best use of $20,000.
  • Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse – $20,000
    To bring expert guidance to their current transformation from a program-focused to a community and relationship focused organization.
    I like the sound of that.
  • Lancaster Day Care Center – $14,790
    To hire a consultant to prepare a comprehensive Strategic Plan. Critical issues to be addressed include a plan for succession, facility improvements and fundraising analysis.
    I’d much rather see funds going to training women who already provide informal child care, so they can run legitimate, safe child care operations.
  • Southern End Community Association – $20,000
    To hire a professional consultant to develop a new strategic plan. This will give the agency a redirected focus and strengthen its ability to better serve the community.
    This is only one of six grants that were given to help organizations with strategic plans. The Obama campaign didn’t have a strategic plan, and did not emphasize formal strategy. I think we’re going to see “strategic planning” go out of vogue, and I say good riddance.
  • Lancaster County Conservancy – $20,000
    To conduct a feasibility study for new headquarters integrated with an innovative Environmental Center on an urban forest nature preserve.
    Sounds cool to me.


  • Franklin & Marshall College – $249,992
    To create “Poetry Paths” across Lancaster City to introduce poetry by eminent and local writers into the daily lives of Lancaster’s residents and guests. Stands and pavers will be used to permanently display the poems.
    Hmm. I want to learn more. I’m a poet, and I’m far from sold based on this description.
  • City of Lancaster – $200,000
    To develop a public art department. The department head will manage city public art projects, coordinate with other community public art efforts, develop public art policies and infrastructure, and function as an information clearinghouse for public art information in the community.
    Two hundred thousand dollars for an arts bureaucracy? Again, I’m far from sold, especially based on that whole thing about how good art is created bottom-up rather than top-down, and how art is everyone’s business, not something that can be sequestered off.
  • Fulton Opera House – $120,000
    To expand the arts education staff at the Fulton, and enable their historic theatre to better serve and engage the Lancaster community. An Education Department will allow the Fulton to maintain and solidify this programming, while increasing capacity and effectiveness.
    I think we should match students with the real excitement in the arts world. I hesitate to endorse the idea that that excitement is to be found in an institution that runs mass-audience Broadways standards.
  • Pennsylvania College of Art and Design – $150,000
    Funding will develop three programs: 1) Mosaic Engagement, a series of three exhibitions that will connect audiences from the county with vibrant art by successful artists; 2) Mosaic Middle School and High School Programming, providing 150 School District of Lancaster and Pequea Valley middle and high school students with unique educational opportunities; 3) Mosaic After Program, providing further art education and resources for these same students.
    Remember what I just wrote about matching students with the real excitement? This sounds much closer to the target to me.

All in all, I think the Community Foundation is doing awesome work. I can’t wait to see more innovative organizations springing up to go the extra mile and take greater risks toward making “extraordinary community,” which is the Foundation’s goal. What are your thoughts on these grants? If you had money to give, what would you want it to go toward? Do you have an idea you’d love to have funded one day?