Parkesburg Yesterday – Van B. McIntire

Parkesburg Yesterday – Van B. McIntire


IMG_1461If you want it built right, get Van McIntire.  That’s how it was in the Parkesburg area during the fifties, sixties and seventies in the Parkesburg area.

Vancourt Burl McIntire was born in Modena on July 24, 1930, the second son born to Mary and Joseph McIntire.  As a child growing up, he was struck in the eye with an apparent wayward stone being thrown by some of his local friends which damaged his vision but never held him back.Soon after younger sister Judy was born, the family moved to 511 West Fourth Ave in Parkesburg and at the young age of twelve, his father passed away which explains why Van always had a sympathy towards families who had lost a father or a mother.



Van2According to his sister, as a brother, Van was a super brother and took care of the family almost like a father would.

Older brother Joe was accepted into Williamson Trade School which was created to accept students who had lost one or both parents. It was Joe who was interested in masonry, according to sister Judy Fisher who currently resides in New Holland, PA.  Van followed Joe to Williamson seeking a career in interior painting and décor.  At some point, they switched vocations and Van went on to be a mason.  Brother Joe eventually landed a job with Dupont and had a fantastic career there, all the while maintaining his artistry skills.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit the club room in the Parkesburg VFW there is a beautiful wall mural painted by Joe commemorating US Armed Forces.

Following graduation from Williamson, around 1949, Van married Edith Robinson after the two were introduced by her brother, Skip.  They lived with his mother Mary until Van joined his friend Jim Wilde in the US Army.  The two soon found each other over in Korea where they met up with Parkesburg friend Artie Holl.  The trio were part of a team that built bridges for the military, according to sister Judy.

army buddies 1

army buddies 3army buddies 2


Upon his return from the service, Van landed a job with Christiana mason Frank Groff.  And it is believed that he worked with Mr. Groff on the beautiful brick work that is still very much intact today at the Octorara High School building completed in 1954.

Van also started a family in 1954 and moved into a home on Main Street.  His first child Vanessa was born in 1955 followed by daughter Linda and daughter Valerie in 1962.

Van recIMG_1442eived a phone call from old high school and Army buddy Jim Wilde, “Van, I’m ready to start that addition on the funeral home, meet me there in a half hour and bring a shovel.  And so it began…one of Van’s first mason projects on his own, in 1955.






52761042_2372939212725106_325362305455882240_nSoon, the projects came….. The next time you drive through Downingtown take a look at the Blackhawk Apartments and then visualize the Crystal Springs Apartments on Route 10 just north of the Borough of Parkesburg.  Look similar?  Yes, and that’s because Ban. B. McIntire masonry built both complexes.  Although the owner / developer of Black Hawk refused to allow partners McIntire and J. Patrick “Pat” McGrail to copy his plans, the buildings on each site are constructed very similarly.  Did you know that The Crystal Springs Apartments once had a full-sized swimming pool to the rear of the complex and as a tenant, you had an option to pay a small fee to use the facility, whenever you wished?

Crystal Springs

Crystal Springs Apartments






After fire devastated the frame row homes on Maple Street in January 1968, Van teamed up with the Wilde family to provide a proper funeral and burial for the young lives lost in this incident.  Van purchased the properties, tore down and removed the remains of the structures and built block and mortar townhomes in their place.

Lore has it than when my own grandmother, Emily McClay passed away in 1958, Van personally used his own equipment free of charge to dig out the catholic cemetery and the roads leading to it so the grandmother could be buried right after the giant snow storm that year.

IMG_1449One of Van’s final projects was the erection of the new VFW Post 4480 on Fourth Avenue which stands proudly today but, there was so much in between.

Van loved the town he grew up in, Parkesburg and even jokingly once said: “Parkesburg might be a dead town but it sure is ‘laid out’ nice.”


Other notable McIntire Masonry projects include:

IMG_1450Parkesburg Library – Second Ave and West Street, 1967





IMG_1447The enclosed east side porch on the (now) Beale Manor formerly The Fireside Inn.





IMG_1454The big block building that sits up on the hill overlooking the intersection of Church Street and West First Avenue was constructed by Van B. McIntire Masonry.

He loved to build fireplaces, especially out of stone.

Valerie once said: “Dad could visualize a project in his head, estimated how many blocks he needed and he was usually correct”.


Countless homes in the Parkesburg area used McIntire Masonry in fact, Mrs. Ruth Doutrich, well known area custom builder once tole Valerie and I: “Your dad was the only one I trusted to do the quality masonry work that I was looking for.”


Van passed away on July 6, 1983 after a battle with cancer.



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