SHOPE GARDENS

By Ray Shope - used with permission

I am the youngest son, and the youngest child, of the Shope Family, that built Shope Gardens

 

The houses were built on our farm, on the North side of the Pa Turnpike..... In 1952, Representatives, at that time, from Olmsted Air Force base, approached my father, and asked him if he would be interested in putting his farm into housing, due to the lack of housing, in the area.

 

So, my father found a couple of gentlemen, that were experienced in building and getting the project financed.  My father advertised twenty-five building lots, at the price of $500 per lot, with one stipulation; it would be built by my fathers new business.(25 lots were sold the day the ad came out) All they had was pictures of the house, at the price of $9,500. 

 

The first house built is at the corner of Nissley, across from home plate, of the ball field. Grand Opening for the house was December 3, 1954. (The day my twin sister and I were born.) My father was at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. for our birth and then 12 noon for the Grand Opening.

 

All the walls for the basement were made of poured concrete, where the forms were set one day, poured the next day, stripped the next day, and carried across the road to be set for the next house. 

 

The wooded walls were built in what was the corn barn, where there was a huge table with lines on it, which represented as to where the 2x4's were to be placed to build the walls. All was put on flat bed trucks and taken out to the house being built. This building still exists today, and is used as a mechanical garage, at the corner of Nissley and Burd. (Owned by my twin sister,Faye, and her husband, Paul Maufaif, Pastor of Garden Chapel). 

 

At one time in the early 1960s, my father's business was building 56 houses a year. Since my father was responsible for paying for and displaying the road signs, my father chose to name the streets after family names and some of his partners. So, if you live on Ray Road, that is named after me.  Faye Road, my twin, Donald, after my older brother, Shirley, after my older sister, Sarah, my mother's middle name, due to Ann Street was already used in Middletown. Nissley, was the name of the previous owner of the farm. 

 

Now as far as to the name. It is Shope Gardens.  Hope this helps you knowing how this great community came together. 

 

P.S. If you live on Richard Ave,that was a pond, that was filled in from ground that was moved down from the top of the hill.

By the way, about 12 years ago, all the road signs were replaced by the Township, and were placed beside the old firehouse, for the taking. 

In 1966, my father got permission to build the first house in the Farm Show building for the Builders Show. It was built for the intent to show, and then tear down, and rebuild it in the gardens.. There was even dirt hauled there, and Penn State was in charge of growing grass at the exposition, using special grass seeds and lights.This house was auctioned off and rebuilt on Theodore Ave. 

 

Copyright © 2018 Lower Swatara Township Historic Preservation Society - All Rights Reserved.

  • Facebook Social Icon