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August 17, 2018
Lancaster Landmarks: Micro-Cafe 40 East Grant Street
This Lancaster Landmarks spotlight brought to you by RLPS Architects. RLPS believes in the appreciation and honoring of architecturally significant buildings in the City. Look for more Lancaster Landmarks in this year’s issues of Fig Lancaster, on FigLancaster.com, and on your journeys around town!
The Wagner Cafe, a restaurant and billiard parlor measuring only 24 feet wide by 30 feet deep may very well have been the predecessor of the ‘micro-cafe’ in Lancaster City. In 1891, German immigrant Charles Wagner retained Lancaster’s emerging young architect C. Emlen Urban to design a cafe, boutique hotel, and entertainment emporium at 40 East Grant Street.
Twenty-eight-year-old Urban selected the Romanesque Revival architectural style for his second major commission in the city. No expense was spared when it came to the use of quality building materials, design innovation, and character. The three story masonry structure features an asymmetrical tower that draws attention to the truncated corner entrance below. A twisted cast iron Byzantine column with a pillow-top capital supports the pressed brick arches and tower.
Urban’s liberal use of architectural detailing and materials includes elaborate corbeling, diapering (crisscross patterns), soldier coursing, rough cut sandstone, terra cotta moldings, pyramidal roof, rounded brick piers, decorative leaded glass, and pressed tin features. Also, his confidence and ability to successfully mix flat, segmental, and full round arches in a narrow twenty-four-foot-wide facade was the preamble of things to come in his designs.
Mr. Wagner sold the cafe to Mr. Frank F. Shue who operated the establishment until the late 1920s. Following the years of vacancy, the building was reclaimed and repurposed for the law offices of Goldberg & Byer and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The 127-year- old-structure still stands tall today among the shadows of its towering neighbors.
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