Harpers Ferry Lower Town Tour

This tour takes you around the Lower Town portion of Harpers Ferry, highlighting some of its most prominent sites. Harpers Ferry has a rich history encompassing firearm manufacturing, the Civil War, African American education, and the Niagara Movement.

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Harpers Ferry Park Association & Bookshop
The Harpers Ferry Park Association and National Park Bookshop are housed in the historic John G. Wilson Building, also known as the Stagecoach Inn, on Shenandoah Street. Constructed in 1826, the Wilson Building originally housed stores and residences. During the 1830s, it was used as a hotel, and then later housed workers from the Harpers Ferry U.S. Armory. It underwent a restoration in the 1960s and was included in the creation of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Today the John G. Wilson building houses a bookshop and offices for the Harpers Ferry Park Association, a non-profit organization that supports the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the National Park Service. Their bookshop sells a variety of products, with the proceeds going to support educational and interpretive programs in the park.
Dry Goods Store
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.
Master Armorer's Quarters
The Master Armorer’s Quarters, also known as the New Master Armorer’s Quarters, the Daingerfield House, and Building 36, is a historic residence in the Lower Town area of Harpers Ferry. The structure was built in 1859 to house the U.S. Armory’s Master Armorer, replacing the Old Master Armorer’s Quarters beside it. During the Civil War the building was used as a headquarters for several Union officers including Ulysses S. Grant. The Master Armorer’s House came under the possession of the National Park Service as part of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Today it has been restored and serves as an information center for the park.
United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry
The United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, often called the Harpers Ferry Armory, was a series of facilities used for the manufacture and storage of firearms for the United States government from around 1802 to the start of the Civil War in 1861. Chosen by George Washington as one of two locations for a federal armory, it produced a variety of guns and became the primary driving force of Harpers Ferry’s economy. In 1859, the armory was seized by John Brown and his followers as part of their attempt to instigate a slave uprising. When the Civil War began in 1861, the facilities were destroyed as both Union troops and Confederates fought for control of the town. Never rebuilt, the site of the armory is today mostly covered by railroad tracks.
John Brown Monument
The John Brown Monument is a stone obelisk marking the original site of the engine house where John Brown made his last stand during his historic raid in 1859. John Brown and his supporters failed in their goal of starting a slave uprising, instead exacerbating national tensions that would culminate in the Civil War two years later, and largely destroying Harpers Ferry in the process. During the 1890s, the armory engine house was moved and the B&O Railroad began realigning its tracks through much of the original armory grounds. In 1895, the railroad erected an obelisk on the site where the engine house had stood in honor of the raid. The engine house, popularly known as John Brown’s Fort, would be brought back in 1968 and today stands 150 feet away from its original location.
Harpers Ferry Train Station
The train station at Harpers Ferry was built in 1894 by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Designed by architect E. Francis Baldwin, it came during a time of increased tourism for Harpers Ferry and a golden age of railroad passenger travel. Originally overlooking the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, it was moved to its present spot in 1931. In 2007, the station was restored after a $2.2 million renovation. Today the Harpers Ferry station continues its original role as a transportation center, servicing Amtrak and MARC trains, and is a part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
Heyward Shepherd Memorial
This memorial to Heyward Shepherd was erected in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in 1931. Heyward Shepherd was an African American killed during John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry on October 17, 1859. Shepherd was a porter at the local railroad station and a property owner in nearby Winchester, Virginia. Shepherd died as a free black man who was killed by abolitionists during a raid intended to liberate African Americans from bondage. He became a symbol to white people who opposed John Brown’s mission to end slavery. Although relatively little is known about Shepherd, whites who supported the "Lost Cause" of the Confederacy came to imagine Shepherd as evidence that African Americans were victims of the work of abolitionists and loyal to the South. The monument has been the center of controversy from the time of its inception, and now appears with an interpretive marker that offers the perspective of African American leader W.E.B. DuBois.
John Brown Wax Museum
Located in the heart of historic Harpers Ferry, this popular museum opened in 1961, shortly after the area was designated as a National Park. The John Brown Wax Museum tells the history of radical abolitionist John Brown, the architect of a raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry on October 16,1859 through the use of eighty-seven life-size wax figures.
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church
St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church is a historic structure in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Completed in 1833, it was the third church in Harpers Ferry as well as the first Catholic parish in Jefferson County. In 1896, the original building was demolished and replaced with a larger structure in the same location. The church sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Lower Town district, making it one of the area’s most visible landmarks. It is under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. In 1999, the parish combined with the nearby St. James' parish and regular church services at St. Peter’s ended. Today the church has been designated as a historic chapel and hosts community events, weddings, and conducts a weekly mass for visiting tourists.

This tour was created by Appalachian Studies Association User on 04/19/17 .

This tour has been taken 513 times within the past year.

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