The concept of an independent living intentional community within Lancaster city began in 2003 when Rod Houser presented the idea in an education forum at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster. In September of 2004 a group of thirty-five interested persons met to explore the idea and related issues. It was at this time that the group adopted the name Lancaster Downtowners.
Conversations and gatherings continued until 2006 when a Steering Committee was formed. The Steering Committee purchased the Beacon Hill Village Founders Manual, a book that provided the how-to story of a like-minded group of individuals who were exploring community-living options outside of Boston.
In 2007 member Jim Kalish drafted an organizational prospective, and the Lancaster Downtowners began the process of incorporation - drafting bylaws and working with the Lancaster City Alliance as their fiscal sponsor - which was completed in January 2008.