The Spring Garden Band of York, believed to be the fourth oldest continuously active band in the United States, came into existence long before the Civil War.
In 1855, William Frey gathered together a small group of musicians who called themselves the Spring Garden Silver Cornet Band. At the beginning of the war between the states, 1861, the band of less than twenty musicians became attached to the Ellsworth Zouaves, a local military organization; and later they were recognized as the official musical organization of the 87th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. There they served until 1862 when they were separated from the service under an act of Congress that allowed only one musical organization to a brigade.
During their period of service in the war, the band was attached to units of the Union Army guarding the Northern Central Railroad near Cockeysville. They were later transferred to a site near Baltimore and still later to West Virginia. Their last public appearance as a unit was made in 1897 at a reunion of the 87th Regiment.
In 1891 a number of young men organized a band a few blocks from the site of the founding of the original Silver Cornet Band. It was named the Spring Garden Junior Band, and in a short time over half the membership of the organization was composed of sons, brothers, and nephews of former members of the senior band. These young men were well trained under the guidance of the senior members and when, in 1893, the older group retired, their instruments, were turned over to the new group to carry on with the traditional vigor and quality that had marked the appearance of the original organization.
In recent years, by virtue of its extremely well orchestrated numbers, balanced organization, and high level of musicianship, the Spring Garden Band has become recognized by those who have heard and seen it, as a top-notch musical organization rated as one of the best in the state.
Outstanding events in the band's rich and colorful past have included performances at two presidential inaugurations, numerous governor inaugurations, performances at hundreds of state fairs across the United States, and a recording contract with RCA.
Currently, the band has a membership of 55 musicians who present to the greater York Area an annual series of summer "park" concerts, a midwinter concert, and a spring concert. Many famous and highly regarded soloists have been featured with the band in those concerts --- Doc Severenson, Urbie Green, Leonard Smith, Bob Rosengarden, Roger Williams, Clark Terry, Harvey Phillips, Brian Bowman and Frank Kaderabek ----are but a few who have been impressed with the band's professionalism and musicianship.