Exploring the York County Historical Society Museum

Exploring the York County Historical Society Museum in York Pennsylvania

If you’re looking for information about visiting the York County Historical Society Museum, you’re in the right place!

Street parking in front of the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Street parking in front of the museum in downtown York, PA.

Since 1958, the York County Historical Society Museum has used artifacts and exhibits to highlight the region’s rich heritage and historical significance.

The York County Historical Society Museum has been open at this location on East Market Street in downtown York since 1958.
The York County Historical Society Museum has been open at this location on East Market Street in downtown York since 1958.

Don’t confuse this museum with the York County Agricultural and Industrial Museum!

Exploring the York County Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York Pennsylvania.
The York County Agricultural and Industrial Museum.

Although both museums are located in York and both operate under the umbrella of the York County History Center, they are separate museums with separate collections.

York County's First Inhabitants exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
York County’s First Inhabitants exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum.

What You’ll See at the York County Historical Society Museum

York County has a long and colorful history, and the Historical Society Museum provides a interesting overview of many of the highlights.

York County was established in 1749 and was Pennsylvania's fifth county.
York County was established in 1749 and was Pennsylvania’s fifth county.

The museum is broken down into a series of galleries that focus on different subjects like the arts, culture, or historic people and events.

Gallery One at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
One of several galleries at the museum.

You’ll see examples of locally-crafted furniture.

Furniture exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Furniture exhibit.

18th and 19th century pottery.

Pottery exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Pottery exhibit.

And farming tools used by the early European settlers in the region.

Farming equipment exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Farming equipment exhibit.

I found the museum’s collection of “tall case clocks”, AKA “grandfather clocks”, quite interesting.

Locally-made tall case clocks at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Locally-made tall case clocks.

Prior to my visit to this museum, I had no idea York County was an early center of clockmaking in America.

Tall Case Clocks exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Tall Case Clocks exhibit.

The cigar-making exhibit was also informative.

Cigar-making exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Cigar-making exhibit.

I learned that in the years immediately prior to the Great Depression, York Countians produced 20% of all the cigars sold in the United States.

Cigar Maker to the World exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
“Cigar Maker to the World” exhibit.

The Street of Shops exhibit is literally laid out like and early 1800s streetscape, representing the businesses and homes of York during that time period.

Street of Shops exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Street of Shops exhibit.

Among other businesses represented here is an apothecary, precursor to the modern CVS.

Apothecary on the Street of Shops at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Apothecary on the Street of Shops.

And a print shop, precursor to Twitter.

Print shop along the Street of Shops exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Print shop along the Street of Shops exhibit.

You’ll see examples of how the upper class lived in York County during this time period.

Upscale dining room exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Upscale dining room.

And how children played in the latter half of the 1800s.

Children's toys exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA
Children’s toys exhibit.

There are exhibits dedicated to famous former residents.

Portrait of General Horatio Gates at the York County Historical Society Museum in York Pennsylvania.
Portrait of General Horatio Gates.

And exhibits dedicated to historic local buildings that you can still tour, like the Golden Plough Tavern.

Scale model of the Golden Plough Tavern at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Scale model of the Golden Plough Tavern.

All in all, the York County Historical Society Museum provides a nice introduction to the heritage and historical significance of the region.

The Pioneering Spirit exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
The Pioneering Spirit exhibit.

If you combine your visit here with a trip to the nearby York County Agricultural and Industrial Museum (as I did on this visit), you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for the role York County played in the development not just of Pennsylvania, but of our Nation as well.

A Salute to York County's Veterans exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
A Salute to York County’s Veterans exhibit.

Hours and Directions

The York County Historical Society Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am – 4 pm.

East Market Street entrance at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
East Market Street entrance.

The museum is located at 250 East Market Street, York, PA 17403, inside a building that retains its original showroom tile floor from its first life as an automobile dealership.

Lobby at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
The museum’s lobby was built in 1921 as an automobile dealership showroom.

Admission prices are: Adults- $15, Students (Age 6-17) – $7, and Children 5 and Under – FREE.

Victorian parlor exhibit at the York County Historical Society Museum in York PA.
Victorian parlor exhibit.

Nearby Attractions

The York County Agricultural and Industrial Museum is housed in a former factory complex in downtown York, and features thousands of artifacts and exhibits highlighting York County’s contributions to the areas of agriculture, transportation, and manufacturing.

The Transportation Gallery at the York County Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York Pennsylvania.
The Transportation Gallery at the York County Agricultural and Industrial Museum.

York, PA and the First National Thanksgiving dives into the fascinating backstory of this Revolutionary War-era event, which had nothing to do with Pilgrims and turkeys!

York PA and the first National Thanksgiving Day.
York, Pennsylvania was the site of “The First National Thanksgiving”.

The Haines Shoe House near York is one of PA’s most recognizable roadside attractions, and now it’s a vacation rental home!

Spending the night at the Haines Shoe House vacation rental near York Pennsylvania.
The Haines Shoe House near York.

In fact, this is where I spent the night when visiting the York County Historical Society Museum.

The Instep Suite is the largest bedroom in the Haines Shoe House.
The Instep Suite is the largest bedroom in the Haines Shoe House.

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Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

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