Historical Society Museum

Open Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 - 5:00

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The headquarters, Library and Archives and many of the History Center’s diverse exhibits are housed in a building that is itself an historic artifact. Constructed in 1921 as an automobile dealership, the main lobby retains its original showroom tile floor and the spacious two-story entrance hall. William Richley donated the building to the York County Historical Society after it had outgrown its prior home in 1955.

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Featured Exhibits

  • Street of Shops, an immersive exhibit representing crafts and businesses of York, Pennsylvania during the early 1800s
  • 1804 David Tannenberg Organ
  • ‘A Picturesque Looking Glass’ — a changing exhibit of the works of prominent local folk artist Lewis Miller
  • Pfaltzgraff Pottery — Currently on loan from the Pfaltzgraff Pottery Company, this exhibit features approximately 175 years of Pfaltzgraff history
  • Creating an American Community — decorative arts of the 18th and 19th Centuries, everything from quilts to dishes to furniture and more
  • A Place to Call Home — York County at home, work, worship, and play
  • A Timeless Collection: The John J. Snyder Jr. Exhibition – Featuring tall case clocks of York County and decorative Pennsylvania German furniture
  • Rutter’s Discovery Center for Children — Interactive exhibit for children generously funded by Rutter’s Corp
  • The Fiery Trial: York County’s Civil War Experience

Agricultural and Industrial Museum

Open Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 - 4:00

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Learn about York County’s vast contributions to the progress of agriculture and industry. Housed in a former factory complex, the York, PA museum features two floors with over 20 exhibits highlighting 300 years of transportation, agriculture and the development of manufacturing and industry. Many of the exhibits feature hands-on experiences for visitors of all ages.

Step into a 1916 trolley car or sit in the seat of a 1940 train switcher engine in the Transportation Gallery. Explore the Local Industry Galleries to try your hand at using rotary phones operated by a 1930s switchboard. Discover what it’s like to milk a dairy cow in the Agricultural Gallery and check out the working 3-story grist mill during your visit. You will also be able to enjoy exhibits on pottery making, casket manufacturing, wallpaper creation, pianos and organs, as well as the York Plan, which was York’s industrial contribution to World War II. Before leaving, do not miss the Hall of Giants Gallery to see a 72-ton A-frame ammonia compressor used for producing ice in the early 1900s.

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Featured Exhibits

  • Local Industry Galleries
  • Agricultural Gallery
  • Transportation Gallery
  • The York Plan
  • Hall of Giants

Colonial Complex

Guided Tours available Tuesday through Saturday (April-November)

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One of our most popular York, PA museums, the Colonial Complex encompasses four historic buildings located downtown. Your 45-60 minute guided tour will explore political intrigue, tavern life and culture of the 18th Century. The four buildings reflect both private and public lifestyles of early York County residents. Built in 1741, the Golden Plough Tavern served as a source of news and information for travelers and locals alike, and showcases daily colonial life.  The General Horatio Gates House (c. 1751) reflects an upper class English home of the late 18th century, highlighting the stay of American General Horatio Gates during the winter of 1777-1778. You will also visit the reconstructed Colonial Courthouse that depicts the story of the Second Continental Congress when they stayed in York in 1777-1778, and adopted the Articles of Confederation. The Barnett Bobb Log House, built in 1812 and relocated to the Colonial Complex, is currently used during programs for artisan demonstrations and hands-on activities.

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Featured Exhibits

  • The Golden Plough Tavern
  • The General Horatio Gates House
  • Colonial Courthouse
  • The Barnett Bobb Log House

The Bonham House

Open 3rd Saturday of the Month 11:00 - 1:00 (April-October)

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Originally built in 1840, this three-story dwelling was purchased by artist and prominent Yorker, Horace Bonham. Visitors to the Bonham House will learn about the Bonham family and the evolution of the structure that reflects the changes in society between the 1870s and 1960s. While Horace trained as a lawyer, he spent most of his life as a painter of portraits, landscapes, and genre scenes. Several of his works are display in the house. The Bonham House is currently opened on the third Saturday of every month, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  (April-October).

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Fire Museum

Open Saturdays from 10:00 - 4:00 (April-November)

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Located in the historic 1903 Royal Fire House. The museum allows visitors to see how York Firefighters worked, lived, and played. The building holds more than 225 years of firefighting equipment representative of the 72 fire companies of York County. Exhibits and objects on display include six fire trucks ranging from the 1920s to the 1950s, hand-drawn pumpers, uniforms, and historic alarm systems.

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A Timeless Collection: The John J. Snyder Jr. Exhibition

Open Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 - 5:00

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Located at the History Center’s Historical Society Museum, A Timeless Collection is the newest temporary exhibition. The exhibit features furniture attributed to South Central Pennsylvania from the 1750s to early 1800s as well as 14 tall case clocks crafted by some York’s most notable clockmakers. John J. Snyder a renowned antique expert and collector amassed a large collection of Pennsylvania Furniture, clocks, and paintings from the 18th and 19th century.  The History Center recently acquired the objects in A Timeless Collection from Snyder’s estate.