The Dry Goods Store, also known as the Old Master Armorer’s Quarters, the Samuel Annin House, or more simply Building 35, is a historic building in the Lower Town of Harpers Ferry. Constructed in 1812, it has been used for many different purposes including as an apothecary, recruiting office, stores, and boarding houses. Perhaps the structure is most well-known for being the home of the U.S. Armory’s Master Armorer from around 1821 to 1859. Today owned by the National Park Service, the Old Master Armorer’s Quarters is depicted as a dry goods store exhibit to interpret Harpers Ferry’s commercial history. The second floor houses an Officer’s Quarters and the James Taylor Room to showcase Civil War-era accommodations.
In 1812, Joseph Annin, son of armory paymaster Samuel Annin,
built a two-story brick building on a plot of government land. For several
years he and his father operated an apothecary shop there, and left Harpers
Ferry in 1818. In 1821, the government purchased the apothecary and renovated
it to serve as the residence for the armory’s Master Armorer. Over the years it
housed Master Armorers Armstead Beckham, Benjamin Moor, James H. Burton, and
Samuel Byington. In 1859, the New Master Armorer’s Quarters was erected nearby.
After John Brown’s raid, a company of U.S. troops were stationed to guard the
armory, and used the old quarters as a recruiting office. The building was left
vacant during much of the Civil War; around 1864, a Mrs. Cornelia Stipes
operated a boarding house from it. One of her boarders was James E. Taylor, a
sketch artist for Frank Leslie’s
Illustrated Newspaper who stayed in Harpers Ferry for several months.
After the Civil War, the government decided not to rebuild the
armory, and instead began selling off the property. The Old Master Armorer’s
Quarters was purchased in a public auction by James McGraw. A notable
businessman, McGraw had enterprises in selling hardware, coal, and operating a
beer bottling plant. In 1882, he built two new structures, known today as the
James McGraw Building and the Provost Marshal Office, next to the Old Master
Armorer’s Quarters. In 1891, McGraw enlarged both the quarters and the Provost
Marshal Office, adding a third floor and converting them into a boarding house.
A post office and a store were also located there. In 1897 the McGraw family
went bankrupt and relinquished ownership of their buildings.
In 1899, William Doran purchased the building and ran a store
from it with his sister. The business shut down upon William’s death in 1926.
Afterwards a bakery operated there until around 1929. Little is known about the
building from the 1930s-1950s but it is believed that the Dorans rented it out
to tenants. In 1952, the Doran family transferred ownership of the property to
the West Virginia state government, who the following year transferred it to
the National Park Service.
Today the building is part of the Harpers Ferry National
Historical Park and acts as the park’s Dry Goods Store Exhibit. The first floor
displays typical nineteenth-century merchandise and the second floor houses two
more exhibits: the Officer’s Quarters and the James Taylor Room. The Officer’s
Quarters is furnished to depict the usual accommodations of a Civil War
officer, while the James Taylor Room depicts the average accommodations of a