A Place in Time spotlights a significant cultural resource - a district, site, building, structure or object - entered in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Park Dinor, a prefabricated stainless steel and porcelain “Silk City” diner manufactured by Paterson Vehicle Company of Paterson, New Jersey, was assembled in Lawrence Park Township, a suburb of Erie, Erie County, in 1948. The building retains both its interior and exterior appearance with relatively minor changes. It possesses the typical mid-twentieth-century diner configuration of counter, aisle, and booths beneath a vaulted porcelain panel ceiling. With sixteen stools at its counter, one freestanding table, and five booths, the diner can seat a total of forty patrons.

The Park Dinor has been entered in the National Register of Historic Places for its significance as an American invention, designed for efficient service and low maintenance with the installation of tile floors and wainscoting, enameled ceiling, and quilted stainless steel walls. The diner is an example of the Paterson Vehicle Company’s patented system of arc-welded steel construction that created a strong and durable structure. The model took its name Silk City from the sobriquet for Paterson, a city in north­eastern New Jersey, near the falls of the Passaic River, famous for its silk mills. Silk City diners proved extremely popular because they could be mass-produced and were among the least expensive available. From the late 1940s through the early 1960s, the Paterson Vehicle Company manufactured one hundred units each year.

Although several diners in the Key­stone State have been added to the National Register as components of historic districts, the Park Dinor is the Commonwealth’s first to be listed individually. (Only one other Silk City diner, located in Red Hook, New York, is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.) Representative of its type, the Park Dinor’s function is readily apparent to passersby: for many, a diner symbolizes good food, reasonable prices, and friendly service. The Park Dinor epitomizes a distinctive style of modern commercial architecture that is becoming increasingly rare.

 

Recent Additions to the National Register of Historic Places

Sutton-Ditz House
Clarion, Clarion County
February 20, 2004

Luzerne County Fresh Air Camp Butler Township,
Luzerne County
February 20, 2004

Henry W. Breyer Sr. House
Elkins Park, Montgomery County
February 20, 2004

Pine Forge Mansion and Industrial Site
Douglass Township, Berks County
March 18, 2004

Park Dinor
Lawrence Park Township, Erie County
March 18, 2004

Dill’s Tavern
Dillsburg, York County
March 18, 2004

Walter M. Steppacher and Brother Shirt Factory
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County March 18, 2004

O.B. Grant House
Ridgway Township, Elk County
April 5, 2004

 

The editor acknowledges the research of Vir­ginia Andersen, of the Lawrence Park Historical Society, Erie, who prepared the nomination naming the Park Dinor to the National Register of Historic Places.