Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shippensburg, PA

Yesterday and today I went walking down to downtown Shippensburg, PA. I'm living with my brother and sister-in-law about a half-hour's walk out of downtown, so it's an easy visit. Yesterday was for finding my way to the major potential job spots, but today I went to absorb some of the historical atmosphere.

You've all seen what a history junkie I am from the stuff on Newport that I've done in the past. Shippensburg has its own share of history as well. The town was settled in 1730 and incorporated as a borough in 1819. It lies in the Cumberland Valley, which is essentially the north-of-the-Potomac-River extension of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. The Cumberland was the main route taken by the Confederate army in their strike north which culminated in the Battle of Gettysburg, which is just on the other side of South Mountain from Shippensburg. And in fact Shippensburg was occupied by the Confederate army during that conflict.

Architecturally, the town's main street - King Street - is dominated by brick or stone houses based on the Federal style of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This was a new sight for me. I've seen a lot of that same style up in Newport and the rest of New England, but there the building material was primarily wood with a brick house here and there. Seeing the same style in stone was intriguing, and became the focus of my photo shoot today. To start off, here are some general shots of places along King Street.

One of the old stone houses on King Street is the home of the Shippensburg Historical Society - the Dr. Alexander Stewart House, built in the 18th Century of brick and limestone, and one of the more distinctive buildings on King Street.

Another landmark on King Street is the Widow Piper's Tavern, built in 1735 and used for Cumberland County court sessions in 1750 - 1751, making it the first court house in Cumberland County.

And last but not least is the McLean House on King Street, on the banks of Burd's Run. It was built in 1798 by postmaster and local merchant Joseph Duncan. During the Civil War the house was owned by tanner William McLean, who hid his leather from the invading Confederate troops by hiding it in false bottoms built into his tanning vats. Clever, eh?

And that's a little more from where I live now.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Darn! I see the little antique shop is closed. Lovely architecture. I've had the paperwork on my desk for over a year to submit Willow Manor for the National Registry for Historic Places. Your shot of the plaque reminds me to get it done!

  2. OK, I loved that grey stone house. Cool beans.

    I'm glad you're up and going again. I saw your previous posts. I just didn't know what to say.

    I hope you find happiness where you are. Finding additional happiness is always a good thing.

  3. I've driven down King St. before and never saw the houses as I saw them today looking at your photos. I especially love the last one. See you tomorrow!!

  4. The pictures are lovely. I think there should be a Chamber of Commerce somewhere that could use your talents in photography, history, culture and enthusiasm.

  5. So glad to see and hear from you, Roy.
    Best of luck to you in PA and lease keep posting.

  6. I love the red brick with the white shutters. It's gorgeous...plus the yellow brick...and the last stone house...and...

  7. shippensburg is so lucky to have you wandering it's streets with your magical eye! have driven by the exit from I-81 to shippensburg a zillion times (well, maybe that's a wee exaggeration), never got off. now I hope I'll get another chance!

    perhaps the chamber of commerce or the historical society can find a position for you - you and your camera, not to mention sense of context and history would surely be a benefit to the town!

  8. p.s. now i read the other comments! sounds like shari sunday and i are on the same page - tell the chamber of commerce to call us if they have any doubts!!!!!

    happy thanksgiving roy.

  9. Not quite Newport but it does have a charm all of it's own. Lovely to get a glimpse of the new Habitat

  10. Boy, that's sure eastern! Some of the buildings put me a bit in mind of my days in Virginia. Glad you're settling in.

  11. I ran across your site by accident. I too live in Shippensburg, pretty much grew up here. I walked those streets as a teen and now drive through them as adult and you know, I never seen it like you do. It is nice to see it through another perceptive. Now when I drive down town, I think I will look at it a little differently. Yet, I don't know much about building structures so I never realized how special they were. While in School, my class had a nice bus ride through town pointing out the old buildings but your pictures seem to make them more appealing.