Early this year, Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects was commissioned by York College of Pennsylvania to renovate the former Lafayette Club building at 59 East Market Street in downtown York. 

The 20,000-square foot facility will house the York College Center for Community Engagement and provide Hospitality Management students with hands-on, experiential learning opportunities in classroom and event space.

Murphy & Dittenhafer was charged with repurposing an unusual assemblage of rooms to meet York College’s needs, as well as improving the building’s accessibility and preserving its historical features, such as its stained glass, wall murals, a spiraling staircase, fireplaces, decorative millwork, and the Lafayette seal featured in the entryway carpet.

“It really is a privilege to be the architect for this important adaptive reuse project in downtown York, to collaborate with York College, and to facilitate moving this whole effort forward,” says Frank Dittenhafer II, FAIA, owner and co-founder of Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects. “The new space will create an engaging, new, fresh environment while maintaining the building’s heritage.”

According to York College, renovations on the four-story building began immediately after York College acquired it in late 2015, and the Hospitality Management program will begin working in the basement and first floor upon moving in this fall.

Here are some details about the project:


  • The basement, which has an existing kitchen, is being renovated into a food and beverage lab and will be used for experiential class learning. This floor also is home to several small rooms and recesses, which the program aims to develop into chef’s table-style dining spaces in the future.

  • There is a bar and restaurant space on the first floor, which will be built out within the next year, as well as meeting space on the first, second and third floors.

  • The college plans to open the building’s common space to community organizations and institutions, and John Hughes, chair of the school’s Hospitality Management department, envisions Hospitality students catering meetings and events throughout the building. 


Beyond the improvements to the building itself, the project is a step toward fulfilling York College’s commitment to be an active partner in downtown York’s redevelopment.

“A physical location for York College in York City - right across from its historic hotel, and at the intersection of our vibrant Market/Arts District and Royal Square - speaks to the College’s commitment to being part of York’s renaissance,” says Dr. Dominic DelliCarpini, Dean, Center for Community Engagement. “At this location, we will host community conversations, provide educational offerings to both our students and other community members, and become a campus link that will draw our students and faculty into the City.

"This historic location will house a new confederation of public/private partnerships as we join the many leaders in York who are committed to this work. We are honored and humbled to be part of the new history we are writing.”

*All photos in the post were taken by Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects