Thursday, April 28, 2016

Norva Hotel: An in-progress mystery from York, Pennsylvania

This (really) old business card, easily discarded or lost in the shuffle, presents a nice little hometown mystery that is still being worked on.

It's for the Norva Hotel, which featured outside rooms, steam heat, inner-spring mattresses1 and the slogan "Rest Assured."

The hotel was located at 17 North Beaver Street here in York, Pennsylvania.

Here's what that location looks like today...

So, 17 North Beaver Street is in a building that's adjacent to the famous National House (seen at far right in the above photo), which was constructed in 1828, has served many different hotel and business purposes over the years, and is currently home to the Holy Hound Taproom.2 Is it possible that 17 North Beaver was once part of the "National House"?

In my initial research, I have found only a few references to "Norva Hotel" in York. They all date to the late 1940s, so this was likely a short-lived enterprise. I also found reference to a Norva Hotel in Baltimore. So it's possible that the word "SYSTEM" on the business card indicates that it was a chain of some sort. "Norva" could stand for Northern Virginia, too.

Seeking more clues and feedback, I posted the business card on a Facebook page devoted to mid-century York history and memories. One Facebook commenter, Greg Halpin, shared these thoughts:
"Definitely the National House. Several of the references state it is at Market and Beaver Streets. The 'All Outside Rooms' on the business card would make sense with the balconies. Lots of folks in arrest dockets giving the Norva Hotel as their address, and several in Divorces started give it as their address as well. Also saw where it was raided and several were arrested for 'fornication.'"
So, we're off to a good start with the research and crowd-sourcing on this one. I'm hoping there will be additional updates in the coming days.

1. Because mattresses are really uncomfortable when the springs are on the outside.
2. I featured a vintage postcard of the National House in this June 2013 post.

1 comment:

  1. I'm guessing that they were proud of innerspring mattresses as a big step up from ones using straw, feathers or horse hair as was common back then.