The story of this house is a story of people.
Many people have lived and died here. Their life and vitality echo through the hallways. According to Mary Hollinger, who was the last Hollinger owner, “If a house was happily lived in for five generations, happiness seeps into the walls and woodwork.”
Hollinger House is located just off Willow Street Pike on Hollinger Road. The classic Adams period design of the three-story brick dwelling indicates its position of influence in the history of Lancaster County. It was built in 1870 for the Hollinger family, whose leather business was reputed not only in Lancaster, but throughout the United States and Europe. Hollinger leather won medals for premium quality in Chicago, Philadelphia and
Paris. At one time their leather was hauled to Philadelphia in Conestoga wagons and shipped to buyers throughout the east and Midwest. The Hollinger enterprise was successful because of the conscientious efforts
and workmanship of five generations of the family. First came Johan Hollinger who settled on the land when he was 12 years old. He interned with Jacob Kreider, operator of a one-horse tannery on the site. Johan learned the trade, expanded it and finally took over the business in 1824.
Records show that in those early days two small houses existed on the
property: one served as a residence and another as a dormitory for male tannery workers. A log section of one was used as a tavern. Legend has it that a patron of the tavern was murdered there in a brawl. In time Johan’s son Amos perfected the leather processing and enlarged the business. Well-preserved copies of family ledgers show a prosperous business under his leadership. During the Civil War, productions included shoe leather and
other supplies for Union soldiers. In 1863, one firm purchased a record
amount of leather-50 tons at a cost of over $13,000.00.
Not only was Amos Hollinger involved in the leather business, he was also instrumental in the founding of the Willow Street United Church of Christ and was influential in the extension of the local trolley route to Willow Street. He served as a trustee of the Millersville Normal School, was president of Farmers Mutual Insurance Company of Lancaster and vice president of Tanners Mutual Insurance Company of Philadelphia.
In 1870 the prosperous tanner decided to build a new home for his family. The carpenter-builder employed by Amos disregarded the architectural trend to lavish house plans with elaborate decorations and dramatic lines. Instead, he built a house of classic design with clean-cut grace. The home was livable and spacious. Every room opened to the outdoors-either by porch, window or terrace. In the beginning the central heating system was supplied by the tannery’s boiler and later by stoves. Amos instructed the builder to install pipes for gas in anticipation of the day when gas lines would be extended out of the city of Lancaster to his property.
The house was not just a residence for the Hollinger family. Twenty-five
employees ate there regularly. Unmarried male workers lived on the third floor. According to tradition, the third floor bedrooms were later transformed into schoolrooms for the children of the tannery workers.
The impact of this family’s trade and activities sparked the whole
environment. From 1892 to 1935, the little valley, which came to be known as “Hollinger”, had its own Hollinger Post Office and Hollinger Rural Telephone Company.
In the early 1890′s, Amos took his son John into the business. Shortly
thereafter, Amos and his wife moved to Lancaster. Beginning in 1899, business was conducted from Amos’ residence under the name of Amos Hollinger and Son Tannery. When Amos died in 1901, John assumed control of the business. He managed it successfully until 1918. However, times were changing. The forces of industrialization were creeping into matters of daily living. Recognizing this transition and the impact of the automobile, John realized that the demand for horses and harness leather would diminish. Consequently, he shut down the tannery and retired at the age of 50.
The house passed to John’s son, John H. Hollinger, who along with his wife
Mary remodeled the old homestead in 1927. Mrs. Hollinger also preserved and restored many of the home’s fine antiques, some of which were original pieces of furniture in the house. History abounds in Lancaster County. Hollinger House is one of the outstanding examples of the area’s rich heritage. It stands with hundreds of other historical sites that have shaped the development of our city, our county and our country. In recent years, Lancaster County has been an inspiration to writers and film directors. The story of the Hollingers is so distinguished that it was mentioned by James Michener in his novel, Centennial.
To take the rich tradition and spirit of this old homestead and carry it one
step further, Leon and Jean Thomas purchased the property in 1984 to convert the house to a bed & breakfast. Their business was named in honor of the Hollingers. —by Brenda Shrum Kauffman
The Trost’s purchased the property in 1994. The grand mansion, and out-buildings, were once again restored and remodeled, including the original barn, stone cottage and log ‘tavern’ dwelling.
Hollinger House still operates as a bed & breakfast and has become an
appreciated haven for many travelers. It has been ‘home’ to many full-time
tenants, or as Gina called them, “extended family members”. It has nourished souls, minds, bodies and spirits and continues to give so many a place to feel they belong. It’s all about making people feel special.
Happiness still abounds and continues to seep into the walls and woodwork.
Come share with the ‘new family’ of Hollinger House. Enjoy stories shared,
and meals prepared with only the finest, local ingredients and lots of love. A visit to this special home is sure to add some peace to your heart!
Gina Trost and family participate in and donate to many organizations, fundraisers and events designed to raise funds and awareness for so many good causes, including: American Diabetes Foundation, American Cancer Society, Foundation for Spina Bifida, Aids Foundation, Center for Literacy, Habitat for Humanity, Foundations for Leukemia, Lyme, Scleroderma, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis and Hodgkin’s, Humane League, O.R.C.A. Salvation Army, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Lancaster General Hospital, ARC, and Willow St. Woman’s Club, to mention only a few.
In 2003, Jason Lloyd and his daughters, Ashlea, Emma and Isabelle, decided to join the Hollinger House team/extended family.
In May of 2005, Dave and Cindy Mott and seven of their eight children took over the operation of the Hollinger House Bed and Breakfast.
More information on the current hosts will be coming soon.