Shepherdstown Walking Tour- German Street

This walking tour offers two dozen stops along three blocks of Shepherdstown's historic German Street. The tour begins at Historic Shepherdstown and Museum and moves west, with stops at historic buildings and landmarks.

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Historic Shepherdstown and Museum
Historic Shepherdstown Museum is located in the former Entler Hotel. The museum details the history of Shepherdstown and houses many historical artifacts crafted by local artisans. Rooms are arranged to reflect the history of the community at different periods, ranging from the colonial era to the 20th century. At lunchtime on weekdays, local historians present oral accounts of the town's history. The museum also features an archives room for genealogical and historical research. The working replica of James Rumsey’s steamboat is housed in a boathouse on the museum’s grounds.
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Jefferson Security Bank
Constructed in 1906 for Jefferson Security Bank, this distinctive Beaux Arts style building was one of Shepherdstown's leading downtown banks until 1975. In that year, the bank completed construction and moved to a larger building at Washington and Princess Street that could accommodate drive-thru baking. Jefferson Security continues to operate, and is the oldest bank in the county, having been established in 1869.
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Tolliver's Hotel and Ice Cream Parlor
SE corner of Princess and German Sts. Owner J. Matt Tolliver seems to have been the downtown area’s first successful black businessman. His name appears in the town records during the years 1877 to 1908. After his popular restaurant burned in 1894, he built this brick building, where he ran a hotel and ice cream parlor. From 1899 to 1909 the town granted him an annual hotel license.
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Hodges Building
SW corner Princess and E German Sts. A large brick structure and residence from the early 1800s to the 1880s. Resident families included three generations of the Reinhart family, then the Line family. From 1854 until his death in 1858, it was the home of the Honorable Henry Bedinger, the first U.S. Ambassador to Denmark. In the 1880s, G.T. Hodges established a large general store in the front corner room. The old entrance is still visible from the Princess Street side.
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Rumsey Steamboat Museum
Located behind the Entler Hotel, the Rumsey Steamboat Museum was built in 1988 to house the Rumseian Experiment, a working replica of James Rumsey's 1787 steamboat constructed for the bicentennial of Rumsey's original, on 1987. Built to resemble stables for the Hotel, the Steamboat Museum houses some exhibits of Rumsey's life an inventions in addition to the replica. The Boathouse also has a mural by artist Larry Drechsler showing the bank of the Potomac during the demonstration of the steamboat on December 3, 1787.
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Hamtramck Home - Mecklenburg Inn
The exterior of this historic downtown building has changed little from the time of the early republic, it might be the only on the south side of town with little renovations. From the late 1790's to the mid 1850's, it was the residence of John F. Hamtramck, one of the town's military heroes. Later it became a business address, and had become a part of the town's tradition of inns and taverns. Today, is home to the Mecklenburg Inn-a popular local tavern.
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Pendleton Property
Built in the early 1800s and spared from the 1912 fire which burned adjacent buildings to the east on East German Street, including part of the Entler property. Charles Harper started an apothecary shop here in 1816. After the Civil War, B. S. Pendleton, a Confederate veteran, bought the property and opened his green grocer store. In the early 20th century, Pendleton was still selling Confederate Generals Lee, Jackson, and Stewart lead pencils, and "Blind John" Lamb operated his roasted peanut stand just off the sidewalk. Across the alley to the right, a brick wall from 1798 survives in a structure built in 1913, after the big fire.
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War Memorial Building
SE corner of German and King Sts. Also known as the Men’s Club Building. Built in 1868 to house the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, it was the first substantial building on the eastern half of the block. Until then a large tannery occupied the entire area. Just before World War I, Pearl S. Buck’s uncle served as pastor of the church. In 1940, the Methodists reunited at the New Street Methodist Church. The Shepherdstown Men’s Club purchased the property in 1947 and named it the War Memorial Building. The club, now called the Community Club, holds its dinners and meetings here and makes its large meeting rooms available for many community activities.
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McMurran Hall
This Greek Revival building was constructed by Rezin D. Shepherd in 1859. The building was intended to be a Town Hall, when the center portion of the building was constructed. The building was used as a hospital in the Civil War, and for a few years, it was used as the county seat because of the devastation in Charles Town. When is became the county seat, the two wings were constructed. With the support of Shepherd, this building was leased to the new school and later deeded to the college's Board of Trustees. This became the first building of what later became Shepherd College (Shepherd University today) when it was established in 1871. The following year, the college was incorporated into the state of West Virginia's system of higher education as one of the state's six normal schools.
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Old Market House - Shepherdstown Public Library
Located in the heart of Shepherdstown, the Shepherdstown Public Library was built in the 1800s as a market house, offering local farmers a sheltered place to sell their wares. It has also been home to the fire department, the town council offices, a butcher shop, a school, and the local jail. Today, it is the home of a thriving library.
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Sheetz Building
NW corner of German and King Sts. One of the oldest buildings in town, it is located on Town Lot No. 1. Three generations of the Sheetz family manufactured guns and stocks here from before the American Revolution to c.1830s. The gun shop was in a structure behind the Sheetz building facing King Street. From c.1810 to 1821 the family also maintained a tavern. The brick building held the saloon, the adjacent stucco house contained the dining room, and the living quarters were upstairs. William Sheetz manufactured gun stocks for the armory at Harpers Ferry. After the armory was destroyed during the Civil War, Sheetz used the left over gun stocks to build a picket fence.
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Moulder Hall aka Sweet Shop
SW corner of King and German Sts. Was used as a general store or grocery store from the early 1800s until the late 1980s. During the antebellum era local militia organizations used the brick double house attached to the rear of the building as a meeting and drill room. Following the battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862) wounded men were carried to the second floor, one of the main surgeries pressed into action in the emergency. Contemporary accounts reported amputated limbs being thrown from upper windows into waiting wagons. Here also Joseph McMurran, who was to become the first principal of Shepherd, had his private schoolroom after the Civil War.
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Town Hall
This is a modern brick structure that replaced an older smaller building in 2011.
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Tabler's Store
119 W German St. The oldest general store location in town, it began as Morris and Brown’s general store in 1804 and continued for the next 158 years. Among the long-time proprietors, the Tabler family occupied this building from 1922 to 1962. It also contained the US Post Office 1823-1853.
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Yeasley House
This limestone home built in 1790 was constructed for the Yeasley family. The home is older than the majority of brick structures in the area. Revolutionary War veteran Michael Yeasley and his family were German immigrants and a part of the original group of settlers in Mechlenburg, what is now Shepherdstown. Yeasley was a dedicated member of the German Reformed Church and organized the purchase of church bells for the Christ Reformed United Church of Christ.
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Alexander Lindsey's Tavern
126 W German St. Abutting Bedinger’s law office, it was Lindsey’s Tavern in 1800. By the mid 1800s it had become the site of the flourishing general store of John McEndree.
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Opera House
131 W German St. The Opera House replaced a one hundred year old building in 1909. Here moving pictures were shown continuously until 1956. Thirty-five years later, after extensive renovation, it reopened as a movie theater. It is currently used as a venue for both film and live music.
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Billmyer Building
NE corner of German and Church Sts (known as “Billmyer’s Corner” for generations). This is one of the oldest buildings in town. A log building occupied the site in 1776; the third story and the brick façade were added after the Civil War. During the Civil War the federal post office was located in the store. When the Confederates controlled the town, the store remained open, but the post office didn’t. Two different banks used the corner room from 1873 to 1940.
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Conrad Schindler House aka Reformed Parsonage
SE corner of German and Church Sts. Likely the second house on lot 17, the original front portion was built by Michael Fouke, Sr., about 1795, and sold by the Fouke family in 1815 to Conrad Shindler, who added the rear wing around 1815. For nearly 55 years, this property served as both family home and the location for Shindler’s coppersmithing business. In 1869, 17 years after Shindler’s death, the German Reformed Church bought the home from the Shindler heirs to use as a parsonage. In 1995, actress Mary Tyler Moore, a Shindler descendent, purchased the property and deeded it to the Shepherd College Foundation in honor of her father. It now houses Shepherd University’s George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War.
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Kearsley House aka Presbyterian Manse
NW corner of German and Church Sts. Grew from a dwelling built in 1795 by John and Mary Line. John Kearsley, a Revolutionary veteran, long time Presbyterian elder, substantial property owner, and president of the town board of trustees for 9 years, added the larger front portion in 1814. The back portion, with an entrance on Church Street, housed a general store and from 1869 to 1873, Shepherdstown’s first bank. Later the residence of Presbyterian pastors for many years, it is now a privately-owned residence.
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Trinity Episcopal Church
SW corner of German and Church Sts. It features a grey stone spire that rises high above the town. A Gothic Revival structure of native stone, it was completed in 1859 on the eastern end of the old Parade Grounds, where local militia drilled from the French and Indian War until the Civil War. After the Battle of Antietam, town clergymen, realizing their churches would be swamped with the wounded, agreed that one should remain open as “a house of prayer.” Because Trinity had just been consecrated in 1859, it was chosen. The church remained a dedicated place of worship, always open and providing services acceptable to both Union and Confederate troops and their sympathizers throughout the war. The Episcopal Chapel, on the back part of the lot, dates from 1870.
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Michael Rickard House
211/213 W German St. Rickard was among the German artisans who settled here in the l8th century. The west side of this two-story brick house provided residential quarters for the family, and the east side housed Rickard’s locksmith shop. In 1795, Rickard crafted the escutcheon that has graced doors of two successive Lutheran churches. Three generations made locks at this location. The screw lock, used as switch locks by railroads, was invented here, and the handcuffs worn by John Brown at his trial in Charles Town (1859) were crafted here.
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Baker House
215 W German St. In 1800 John Baker, a local attorney, purchased this house, adjacent to the Rickard House. He served in Congress and the Virginia legislature as a Federalist. In 1817 he bought the New Street property that would later become the Episcopal Rectory. Elias Baker (no relation) bought the German Street house just before the Civil War and served as federal postmaster 1862- 1867. When his son Newton joined the Confederate Army, the elder Baker refused to speak to him. Newton became a physician after the war and practiced in Martinsburg. There, Newton’s son, Newton Diehl Baker, Jr., was born. He became the Secretary of War in Woodrow Wilson’s cabinet. The Martinsburg Newton D. Baker Veterans Hospital is named for him.
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Great Western Hotel
214 W German. This rambling two-story stucco house has a colorful history. During the Revolutionary War a log tavern on the site became a rendezvous for American forces. A large yard behind provided a drill ground for troops. Joseph Entler bought the property in 1808 and established Entler’s Tavern (not to be confused with the Entler Hotel). At some point in the early 19th century the establishment became known as the Great Western Hotel. During the War of 1812, it served as a barracks for troops. After the war, Entler catered to the wagon trade. Many drivers and workers with wagon trains, Conestogas, ox carts and the like stayed here before and after crossing the Potomac at Pack Horse Ford. A 25 horse limestone stable behind the hotel enhanced its appeal. The hotel sustained much interior damage by soldiers during the Civil War and never reopened as a hotel. After extensive repairs it became a private residence.

This tour was created by Historic Shepherdstown Commission User on 04/26/17 .

This tour has been taken 285 times within the past year.

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