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The establishment of a markethouse dates back to the founding of Lancaster itself. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the land that would become the City of Lancaster was owned by Andrew Hamilton. On May 15, 1730, Hamilton and his wife deeded three lots for three specific uses -- a courthouse, a jail, and a markethouse -- to be clustered around the town square (originally called Centre Square, and later Penn Square). A public market was recognized as a cornerstone of a stable and civil society.

Set within a region of abundantly rich farmland, Lancaster's growing urban population was sustained by four Victorian markethouses, both public and private, that were built in each quadrant of the City, in addition to Central Market. Three additional markets opened in the twentieth century.

Today, Central Market remains a viable and vibrant markethouse. Four former markethouse buildings still stand in the City, a legacy of Lancaster's historic market tradition.