Hanover, Pa., is starting to attract Md. refugees Schools, real estate draw people to a town pretzels made famous

Neighborhood Profile

July 28, 1996|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HANOVER, Pa. -- Anyone who munches a pretzel or potato chip knows of Hanover, Pa., home to a snack food industry that feeds the East Coast. Just six miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line, Hanover is small-town America with the Pennsylvania Dutch style of cleanliness and order.

Marylanders, particularly from northern Baltimore and Carroll counties, have a long relationship with Hanover. They come to Codorus State Park, about three miles east, to boat and fish its 1,276-acre lake, camp on its remaining 2,000 acres, or swim in one of the nation's largest pools.

Maryland's shoppers arrive in Hanover on Route 94, a route that was started in 1875 by two farmers in a bet to see who could plow the farthest north.

The route today speeds shoppers to the "golden mile" of Eisenhower Drive, north of town, where twin plazas share the horizon: a 24-hour Super Kmart Center and Hanover Crossroads Shopping Center, featuring Wal-Mart and Lowes.

Manufacturer's outlets are here, a stone's throw from the factory and nestled among city streets. The city has discount warehouses of Eisenhart and Thoman's wall coverings; Hanover and other national brand shoes; Utz, Snyder's, Wege, and Revonah snack foods; Schott furniture and Domestications home furnishings.

Unusual tours intrigue the visitor. At Hanover Shoe Farms, Standardbred trotters have been raised since 1922 in horse barns elegant enough to look like a private school.

At Utz Quality Foods, one can watch a raw potato turn into a bag of chips, in the manner of Salie Utz, who began making them on her stove in 1921. Hundreds of bicyclists turn out for road tours organized by the Hanover Cyclers.

In Hanover, there are 150 organizations and clubs, 116 churches, three golf courses, a hospital and a public library with 55,000 books. There is a local newspaper and radio station. Gettysburg College is 15 minutes away.

In June, 19 one- and two-bedroom homes, 72 three-bedroom and 27 four-bedroom-homes and four condominiums were sold, averaging about $107,000.

The Hanover YWCA Newcomer's Club was created for new residents, who can even bring the kids to monthly Wednesday morning or evening meetings for social hours and crafts.

With a commute to Baltimore of 42 miles, some Maryland workers find Hanover a good choice to live.

Karen O'Connor, a weekend nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital, her husband Mike, a swimming pool contractor, and their three children left northern Baltimore County for Hanover in December. They chose adjoining Penn Township, where the median income is about $38,000.

'More for the money'

"Here, you get something more for the money," O'Connor said. "We rented in Upperco for six years," where available homes were "either farms or mansions. We must have looked at 100 homes," from Shrewsbury, Pa., to Bethesda.

"This home had everything, a window in the kitchen, a garage for Mike's stuff, and a third acre with mature fruit trees."

For three bedrooms, two baths, full basement, finished Florida room and easy distance to school, shopping, and recreation, the year-old home cost in the low $90s.

She works two 12-hour weekend shifts. Her commute from the Hanover countryside to Johns Hopkins is 75 minutes.

"If I worked weekdays, I don't think I could do it," she said, although she knows people do.

"The community is free of substandard living areas," states the fact book published by the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, and it seems true.

City neighborhoods are tidy porch-fronted homes.

Clark and Barbara Ruth live on York Street with preschool son Cody. Both commute to York, Pa., about 20 minutes north.

"I've heard Hanover has one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in Pennsylvania, but I'm not one of them yet," said Clark Ruth, who has lived in the Hanover Borough, where the median income is about $33,000, for about 10 years.

"I've seen this as a fairly safe town, although not like the country where you leave your doors unlocked. You're always a stone's throw from what you need. And nice shopping, although maybe too much."

Clark and Cody Ruth were at Kid's Kingdom, a children's playground of bridges, tunnels, and zigzag stairs that connect five castle-like towers off Grandview Road in the heart of Lobell Farms, a horse farm five minutes from downtown. "We call this Cody's Kingdom," Clark Ruth said.

Hundreds of sponsors, individuals, families, civic organizations, even elementary school classrooms, had helped build the playground less than a year ago.

Like a small European town, Center Square in Hanover is dedicated to the pedestrian. Specialty stores, a Hanover Shoes outlet, pets and pretzels, fine gifts, unpainted furniture and more keep the center of town a viable alternative to shopping malls that exist north and south of town.

Huge pipe organ

The Hanover Area Arts Guild sponsors classes for children and adults, demonstration events and studio tours. Currently, the guild's gallery offers watercolors of 14 Hanover landmarks reproduced on wooden cutouts.

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