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Monday, August 29, 2016

The "City Mayors Come & Go, But Some Are Harder To Get Rid Of" Story

The 247 East Orange Street home of Mayor John Passmore.
It was an ordinary day.  Hoping my story title would fit in the place provided by Blogspot, since it is a fitting title for my story today.  Story's about Lancaster, Pennsylvania's first mayor, John Passmore.  Now, my story is as much about Mr. Passmore's residence as it is about his being a mayor.  
The carriage stepping stone and hitching
post still remain in front of the home.
John Passmore was born in 1774 in Newcastle, Delaware and later moved to Lancaster where he entered the office of the Honorable James Hopkins as a law student and eventually was admitted to the law practice in 1797.  In 1809 John was appointed Prothonotary of the Lancaster District of the Supreme Court by Governor Simon Snyder and in 1818 was appointed an alderman of the city of Lancaster, PA.  Later that year he was appointed to be the first Mayor of Lancaster, a position to which he was twice re-elected.  He was the Mayor until 1820.  He lived in a home at 247 East Orange Street which was located at the corner of Orange and Shippen Streets.  The house was originally built in the 1780s by merchant Thomas Poultney, and later sold to Dr. Christian Neff, and is in the Georgian style of architecture.  
The historical marker that was placed
in front of the home in 1950.
Mayor Passmore was the third owner of the home.  Down the street from Mr. Passmore's home, at 215 East Orange, lived diarist Christopher Marshall.  Eventually James Buchanan, later to become President of the United States, bought that home and was neighbors with John Passmore for a few years.  Neat feature of the Passmore home was the mirror that would allow one to look out an upstairs window and see who was knocking at the front door.  Originally there was a sundail mounted on the outside wall of the house near the front door.  On my visit today to take photos I didn't see either the mirror or the sundial, but the hitching post and carriage stepping stone were still in place in front of the home.  John Passmore died in his home at the age of 52 in 1827.  This 480 pound man was so large that there wasn't a hearse in the city large enough to hold his large wooden coffin so a large wagon was called to the home to take him to his grave. The home remains in near-perfect condition to this day at the corner of Orange and Shippen.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

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