January 2022 Program - The Architecture of the Dempwolfs
Presented by Mark Shermeyer, President, SAA Architects
A history of the genealogy, education, and careers of the Dempwolf architects of York County, from approximately 1874 to 1930, and their contributions to the architectural heritage of the region..
This archived presentation may be watched here.
JANUARY PROGRAM REVIEW contributed by Becky Anstine
January 2, 2022, program: “The Dempwolf Legacy in York and Surrounding Areas”
Mark D Shermeyer of SAA architects presented the first program of the year. Growing up in York, Mark was always fascinated by the Dempwolf family of architects – even doing a paper on the family during his years at Carnegie-Mellon. His presentation covered the Dempwolf family’s contributions to the architecture of York that spanned almost 100 years.
Two brothers, John Augustus and Reinhardt, and later John’s son Frederick, specialized in three different architectural styles over the years. J.A. emigrated to New York in the mid-1860’s and studied at Cooper Union in New York City. After graduation he worked in Boston, then in Philadelphia under Stephen Button. The two designed many of the houses in Cape May, New Jersey. The Small family persuaded J.A. to come to York, where he was joined by his brother, Reinhardt in 1876, when the two brothers set up their own practice. Later, they were joined by J.A’s son, Frederick. The family designed over 600 buildings in York and the surrounding counties and states. They worked in three different styles – J.A. specialized in the Gothic Romanesque style, Reinhardt, who studied sculpture in France and was influenced by the European style, and Frederick followed the Colonial and Georgian revival period. Mark’s presentation used photographs and drawings to show the three styles – pointing similarities and differences between the designs.
Information on the brothers and their legacy of architecture can be found:
Online at the York Daily Record
- "Dempwolf architects made their home–and a lot of homes-in York County"
- "The Dempwolf architecture legacy is all around us in York County"
The “Dempwolf Drawings” are also available online through the York History Center’s Collection Database.
These sources will have to do until Mark can be persuaded to write the definitive book on the Dempwolfs and their legacy.
Mark Shermeyer is a native of York, PA and President and founder of SAA Architects, Inc., a York-based architectural firm currently celebrating its 25th year. He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and spent his early career working in Pittsburgh, PA, Baltimore, MD and Lancaster, PA, returning to the York area to found SAA Architects, which has subsequently grown into an 18-person firm with a diverse portfolio and currently active in approximately 18 different states. His personal experience and project portfolio includes specialties in historic buildings and adaptive reuse projects.
Mark has been a member and past chair of the York Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) since 1998, Past Member of the Historic York, Inc. Board of Directors, Member and Past Chair of the Affordable Housing Advocates Board of Directors (formerly York Area Housing Group) since 2014, and Member of the York County Community Foundation Sustainable Energy Committee since 2018. Mark’s relationship with the Historical Society of York County began in the summers of 1978 and 1979, where he worked as a student intern in the Library Archives. He began researching the Dempwolf architectural firm around 1980 at the encouragement of the staff of Historic York, Inc. The Dempwolf architects became the subject of his thesis at Carnegie Mellon and he continues to give public presentations on their contributions to the architectural heritage of the region. During this research he became friends with local architect C. WIlliam Dize, and
encouraged Bill to donate his collection of Dempwolf linen drawings to the Library Archives.