In October 1749 Christopher Gist, an agent for the Ohio Company (land and trading) arrived at the junction of Wills Creek and the North Branch of the Potomac to erect a stockade and trading post. With the rumbling of the French and Indian War on the horizon in 1754 the little post was expanded into a hilltop fort on the west bank of Wills Creek called Fort Mount Pleasant. British general Edward Braddock arrived the next year to launch a campaign on Fort Duquesne (today’s Pittsburgh) and renamed the expanded fort for the Duke of Cumberland, head of the British Army.
The city took the name of its historic fort in 1787, after being known for several years as “Washington Town” since this was where a young George Washington accepted his first military command. Cumberland evolved into a “Gateway to the West” at the edge of the American frontier. A key road, railroad and canal junction during the 1800s. at one time it was the second largest city in Maryland (second to the port city of Baltimore―hence its nickname “The Queen City”). And when the Federal Government decided to fund the first National Highway, it was in Cumberland where the road began.
The surrounding hillsides provided coal, iron ore, and timber insured the prosperity of the community through the first part of the 1900s. But the Great Depression of the 1930’s hit the region hard. Then, as coal became less valuable as a resource and when industry converted back to peacetime operations following World War II, Cumberland went into a steady economic decline which continues to this day. Along with the economic decline, the population has declined due to an out migration of the work force. The population declined from 39,483 residents in the 1940 census to fewer than 22,000 today.
The result has been that Cumberland’s physical appearance remains much like it was in the 1930’s, which had been it’s heyday. Most of the buildings were constructed between 1860 and 1930. The architecture, both public buildings and residential dwellings, remains largely intact, save for altered street level entrances. Contributing to this quaint and antique appearance has been the historic preservation of the downtown business area as well as the Washington Street Historical Preservation District.
Our walking tour will start in the historic Western Maryland Railway Center, now a centrally located tourist center with plenty of parking...
Western Maryland Railway Station
15 Canal Street
The Western Maryland Railway Station stands today as the last remaining building linked directly to Cumberland’s role as a major railroad center. In the 19th century, Cumberland emerged as one of the East Coast’s major transportation gateways. No less than three major transportation routes began or ended in Cumberland--America’s first highway, the National Road; one of America’s most profitable railroads, the Baltimore & Ohio; and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, one of the era’s most challenging engineering undertakings. Brought by road, rail, and water, Cumberland prospered by helping channel the raw materials, products, and people flowing between the East Coast and the new states lying on the far side of the Appalachian Mountains. Seeking to compete with the growing transportation monopoly of the B&O Railroad, the state of Maryland chartered the Western Maryland Railway in 1853. Hoping to claim a portion of the lucrative Cumberland to Baltimore route, the Western Maryland ran north and west from Baltimore along the Pennsylvania border. The Western Maryland lacked capital, however, and by 1899, still had not connected to Cumberland. In 1902, the Western Maryland fell into the hands of the Gould railroad family, and the railroad finally reached Cumberland in 1906. In 1913, with out-of-state capital pouring into infrastructure, the Western Maryland constructed the grand Cumberland station as a symbol of the railroad’s power and importance. An imposing nine bays wide, the railroad station is surrounded by a heavy modillioned brick cornice located just under the roof line. Passengers of the Western Maryland Railway arrived in Cumberland overlooking a railroad station dramatically placed in a river valley where the Potomac River meets Wills Creek. Ironically, the Western Maryland Railway eventually fell into the hands of the B&O Railroad in the 20th century, and was closed in the 1970s. Today, the Western Maryland Station remains active and utilized as the headquarters of the Canal Place Preservation Authority and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. This scenic railroad makes daily steam-powered 16-mile runs from Cumberland to Frostburg, Maryland. Walk south along the platform area of the Western Maryland Railway Station and you will be taking the first steps on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath which ends 184 miles away in Georgetown, Washington DC.
CROSS THE PARKING LOT IN FRONT OF THE WESTERN MARYLAND STATION CENTER & SQUARE OUT TO MECHANIC STREET AND TURN LEFT.
10 South Mechanic Street
The three-story Romanesque Majestic Theatre opened in 1912, designed by prolific Cumberland architect Wright Butler. It became a combination bowling alley and poolroom in 1914. The second floor was a meeting place for the Odd Fellows and the third floor hosted the occasional boxing match.
TURN RIGHT ON BALTIMORE STREET.
Gross Brothers Department Store
44 Baltimore Street
The Gross Brothers furnishings and clothing store occupied this Romanesque-styled building at the turn of the 20th century. During a recent restoration lions’ heads were discovered when the modern storefront was removed. Note the nearly human face ornamentation on the upper medallions.
49 Baltimore Street
Cumberland’s Embassy Theater is a excellent example of an Art Deco movie theater. The Embassy is typical of community theaters built across the country during the 1930s, a boom period in cinematic history. Thomas Edison introduced motion pictures to Americans in 1896, and by the early 20th century playhouses and vaudeville theaters included them in their lineup of entertainment. Soon, theaters built specifically to show movies opened in nearly every city and town. Giant movie palaces were built in large cities, but far more common were smaller community theaters such as the Embassy. No matter what the size, movie theaters of this period featured elaborate, exotic and modern architectural details which not only helped transport patrons into the fantasy world of the film, but contributed to the whole movie-going experience. Frequently, movie theaters used Art Deco elements in their design that adapted classical design elements, but drew its inspiration from the mechanization and mass-production of that era. The motion picture theater, a result of technological advances, was particularly well-suited for Art Deco’s modern materials, linear edges, geometric forms and zigzags. The Embassy Theatre, built specifically to exhibit motion pictures, opened in 1931. The Philadelphia firm of Hodgens and Hills designed the theater. It continues to be one of the most notable examples of Art Deco architecture in the Downtown Historic District. Three stories tall, the theater features fluted pilasters and neon finials. The building was converted to retail space in the 1960s, when movie theater attendance across the country was declining as competition from television programming increased. Recently, the Embassy Theatre underwent a major restoration project, and is once again used as a theater.
James Clark Distilling Company
55 Baltimore Street
The James Clark Distilling Company moved into this new building in 1899, operating a retail liquor store. Its longest running tenant was Lazarus Department Store, a women’s apparel store.
Fort Cumberland Hotel
northwest corner of Baltimore Street and Liberty Street
The Fort Cumberland Hotel, built in 1917, is a one of only a few remaining early 20th-century hotels in Cumberland. Its construction reflects the height of Cumberland’s prosperity as a railroad center. The demand for hotel rooms increased as the railroad brought more visitors to Cumberland, and even more traveling through. In small cities across the country, local businessmen and city officials believed they could bring even more business to their city if they provided modern, respectable accommodations, such as the Fort Cumberland. These hotels were symbols of progress and modernity for a town. Architectural features were generally conservative, signifying refinement and respectability, to appeal to the mainstream middle-class. The six-story brick Fort Cumberland Hotel was a typical small city hotel. Among its significant features are the classically inspired stone ornamentation and the belt courses between the fifth and sixth floors. The design also included a dentilled stone cornice, as well as a carved panel frieze and triglyphs. On these triglyphs are clusters of flowers which appear above the upper story windows. Generally, hotels from this period provided a lobby, dining room, and a ballroom or smaller gathering rooms on the first floor. These first floor spaces were often used by local organizations, which hotel owners encouraged to create greater ties between their business and the community. The upper floors contained the guest rooms. By the 1920s most guest rooms in small city hotels had their own bathrooms, while just three decades earlier individual bathrooms would have been quite rare.
TURN LEFT ON LIBERTY STREET.
16 North Liberty Street
This small study in Beaux Arts architecture was built for lawyer J. Philip Roman in 1902 and was remodeled in 1924 by local architect George Sansbury. Note the heavily bracketed cornice on the roof balustrade, the date “1902” presented in leafy prominence and the sculpted ornamental lion’s head featured beneath the center of the window.
Vietnam Veterans of America
17 North Liberty Street
This building was designed by George Sansbury and built in 1911 for the Cumberland Office and Supply Company. In 1991 it was completely renovated and dedicated as the home of Chapter 172, Vietnam Veterans of America. It also serves as the distribution center for Reflections, a famous painting depicting a soldier standing at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with images of his fellow soldiers reflected in the black stone.
TURN LEFT ON FREDERICK STREET.
Public Safety Building
19 Frederick Street
The Public Safety Building, originally built as a United States Post Office, stands today as one of Cumberland’s only physical links to the Federal government. Politically, the U.S. government used post offices as tangible reminders to otherwise isolated communities of the role and ideals of American democracy. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Congressman used the establishment of post offices and postal service as way to win favor with voters. To many Americans in small towns, the U.S. Post Office was the Federal government. This one, reflecting the Neoclassical architectural design favored by the government to promote the concept that government buildings should be monumental, was constructed between 1902 and 1904. It was the sixth building to serve as a post office in Cumberland, the first opening in a log cabin in the frontier village in 1795. In 1934, the Federal government determined the building no longer suited its needs, and the city purchased the building to serve as headquarters for the police department, renaming it “The Public Safety Building.” Later, the city converted the building for use as a senior citizen’s center, and as the headquarters of Cumberland’s Human Resource Development Commission.
Bell Tower Building
City Hall Plaza, southwest corner of Bedford and Liberty streets
The Bell Tower Building was the first police headquarters and jail built in Cumberland. It remains substantially unchanged since its construction in the late 1880s when it was added to the public building complex surrounding City Hall. The Bell Tower Building is a two-story brick square building, with a rounded short roof featuring a small wooden bell tower at its center. Although the original bells of the tower are gone, this prominent feature inspired the building’s name. The Bell Tower Building served as the police headquarters until 1936, when they were moved to the 1902 U.S. Courthouse and Post Office. It remained vacant until 1941, when the Allegany County League for Crippled Children established a clinic here. Today, the Bell Tower Building houses the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce.
City Hall City Hall Plaza
on North Centre Street between Frederick and Bedford streets
Cumberland’s City Hall was built in 1911, one year after a fire completely destroyed the 19th-century city hall and Academy of Fine Arts at this site. The architectural firm of Holmboe and Lafferty created this two-story Neoclassical civic building of masonry construction. The building, which cost $87,000, was originally designed with a large two-story dome that was abandoned because of objections to its anticipated price. Local architect Wright Butler oversaw construction as contractor. The City Council held its first meeting in its new quarters March 25, 1912. The exterior of the building is distinguished by fluted Doric pilasters that frame the main entry, a classical stone balustrade that runs along the top of the flat roof, and an irregular curved, recessed corner. City Hall is particularly significant for its intact interior, including marbleized stone pillars. One of the outstanding interior features is a large mural painted on the rotunda dome. Painted by artist Gertrude du Brau, the mural illustrates the early history of the city and features a depiction of George Washington’s military life. Today, the building still functions as Cumberland’s City Hall.
WALK EAST ON FREDERICK STREET (AWAY FROM THE RAILWAY STATION VISITOR CENTER). TURN RIGHT ON CENTRE STREET.
behind 54-57 North Centre Street
An arcade leads to an oval garden filled with evergreens, grasses and perennial flowers. This bit of downtown greenspace is decorated by several sculptures by local artist Michael Zuckerman.
25 North Centre Street
Built sometime between 1875 and 1900, this building was owned by the H.U.F. Flurshutz family from 1911 to 1989. Old receipts found in the attic indicate the property was a dime store in the early 1900s. When the building was renovated no changes were made to the exterior beyond a new coat of paint.
Siefer Brothers Grocery
15 North Centre Street
This building housed the Siefer Brothers’ Grocery when erected in the 1890s. At that time it sported two entrances, one near the current door on the ground floor and a second on the left for the upper floors. There was no mezzanine level inside the building and the front store windows stretched from the pavement to the roof.
B’er Chayim Temple corner of South Centre and Union streets
Cumberland’s first documented mention of Jewish settlers occurred in 1816. By 1853, 12 families resided in the city, which then had a population of 6,150. A congregation was established in April of that year, and the Maryland legislature incorporated the B’er Chayim Congregation the following month. The orthodoxy of that congregation is reflected in the architectural simplicity of the original Temple, a two-story rectangular brick building with refined details such a pedimented gable, brick pilasters, and stained glass arched windows. In 1865, following the use of two prior buildings, Cumberland’s Jewish congregation purchased land at the corner of Union and Centre Streets for the erection of a synagogue. The B’er Chayim Temple was built in 1866 by prominent local contractor John B. Walton. The decorative moldings, double rows of brick arches, and mansard roof of the rabbi’s house added to the Temple in 1900 reflect the more liberal attitudes of reform Judaism practiced by the congregation by that time. Today the Temple still serves as a place of worship for the B’er Chayim Congregation.
TURN LEFT ON UNION STREET. TURN LEFT ON SOUTH GEORGE STREET. TURN RIGHT ON BALTIMORE STREET AND CROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS AND FRONT STREET, BEARING LEFT ON BALTIMORE AVENUE.
205 Baltimore Avenue
The Young Men’s Christian Association was first organized in London in 1844, by 12 young employees of a dry goods business, representing four religious denominations. Their objective was to improve the “spiritual conditions of young men.” The first YMCA in America was founded in 1851 in Boston, Massachusetts, and eight years later, the first YMCA building was constructed in Baltimore, Maryland. Across the country, the YMCA was instrumental in organizing night classes, vocational guidance, as well as sports and camping for boys. Cumberland may have had a YMCA as early as 1869, and occupied four other buildings before the one at 205 Baltimore Avenue was constructed. By the early 1920s, Cumberland was experiencing substantial growth with the establishment of several new industries. When the YMCA building was completed it contained the only indoor swimming pool in the Cumberland area, as well as a cafeteria, reading rooms, library, 71 dormitory rooms, locker rooms, gymnasium and spectators gallery, social rooms and offices. Decorative tiling was used throughout the building, especially in the pool room and more formal areas. The building has experienced very little alteration, primarily to the main entrance and with the changing functions of some of the rooms. Of note is the triangular piece of land upon which the YMCA is located adjacent to the B&O Railroad, indicative of the occasionally oddly shaped lots created by the steep terrain, rivers and railroad tracks that have dictated the layout of the city.
George Truog House
230 Baltimore Avenue
George Truog was the successful proprietor of the Maryland Glass Etching Works from 1893 to 1911. Truog was born in Verona, Italy, in 1861, attended art schools in Switzerland, and emigrated to the United States in 1883. He worked for several glass manufacturing companies before opening his Maryland Glass Etching Works, claiming his business was the only factory of its kind in the country as it specialized in etching and engraving designs and trademarks on glassware for advertising purposes. Decorative glass barware with the logos and trademarks of brewers, distillers, and hotels was shipped throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada, South America and the Antilles. At the height of Truog’s career in 1903, he purchased the simple late 19th-century house then at this site and hired locally prominent architect Wright Butler to execute a thorough and lavish remodeling, at the cost of $40,000. The expensive additions, including a ballroom with a pool table that converted into an upholstered sofa and an elaborate self-contained water system, may have contributed to Truog’s financial difficulties, which forced him to sell the house in 1909 and dissolve his business in 1911. Truog’s skills are exhibited in the windows, transoms, panels and mirrors of his home, which were variously etched, chipped, engraved, beveled, stained, leaded, colored and painted. Butler’s eclectic design for the house features a recessed entrance with an arcade of Gothic arches, polygonal corner bay windows on the second floor, and roof cresting. The interior is highly ornate with mural paintings, molded ceiling ornament, a broad triple-run stairwell, and mosaic and Delft tile fireplace surrounds. For several decades the Truog house was used as a funeral parlor, but was most recently purchased by private owners who restored the house as a residence.
RETURN DOWN THE HILL AND WALK AROUND THE FORMER YMCA BUILDING AND WALK UP TO ALTAMOUNT TERRACE. TURN RIGHT.
16 Altamount Terrace
The construction of this Greek Revival style house in 1851 signifies “frontier” Cumberland’s developing connections, culturally and physically, to the east coast. By the 1850s, newer styles were slowly challenging the popularity of Greek Revival architecture, but in rural and frontier areas like Cumberland, the Greek Revival style still dominated. Located on the western frontier of the United States, Cumberland’s architectural sensitivities might have lagged behind large East Coast cities, but with the economic prosperity new transportation corridors brought, the city’s residents still had money to spend on large new houses. Built in 1851 for businessman John Oliphant, the house at is an excellent example of vernacular Greek Revival architecture. With a large, five bay symmetrical facade and a traditional “center-hall” plan, the house’s most striking feature is its Greek Revival front entrance, a free standing porch of four Ionic columns supporting a classically unadorned architrave, frieze, and cornice. In 1889, the house was purchased by Charles James Orrick and his wife. Reflecting the development of Cumberland and its growing needs, the house was used as the first facilities of what later became known as Memorial Hospital (formerly known as the Home and Infirmary of Western Maryland). The medical facility functioned there for only about two years. Later, in the 19th century, 16 Altamont Terrace was split into apartments, which remain today as the building’s current use.
TURN RIGHT ON EAST UNION STREET AND RIGHT ON FRONT STREET. TURN LEFT AT BALTIMORE STREET TO RECROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS AND CONTINUE BACK TO THE PEDESTRIAN MALL.
First National Bank
153 Baltimore Street
The Neoclassical First National Bank building was constructed in 1912. Chartered originally in 1811 as the Cumberland Bank; it was the first financial institution in Cumberland. This has been the home of the First People’s Community Federal Credit Union since 1979.
145 Baltimore Street
Built in 1893, this building was once the site of the Cumberland YMCA. The original building was three stories with two additional floors tacked on in 1910. The first floor was used by Schwarzenbach and Sons until the clothiers moved across the street. The YMCA departed in 1926 and, for more than a half-century, from 1940 to 1992 it was occupied by Peskins.
McMullen Brother’s Department Store
138 Baltimore Street
Originally McMullen Brother’s Department Store, the upper facade of this building is surfaced with white enamel brick manufactured in nearby Mt. Savage, Maryland.
128-130 Baltimore Street
The structure is unique to the City’s business district because it is the only one influenced by the Beaux Arts style of the early 1900s. The building was the commercial venture of George Schwarzenbach, a German immigrant who arrived in Cumberland and established a small retail business that later became an upscale men’s clothing store. Designed by Cumberland architect Wright Butler and constructed in 1912, the Schwarzenbach building has four large dormers with double hung sashes and segmented pediments on the mansard roof. Above the third floor windows are a series of iron arches and scrolled brackets that highlight the Beaux Arts style. Schwarzenbach’s men’s clothing store closed in the 1970s but the building has been renovated for adaptive use.
123 Baltimore Street
This circa 1900 building, designed by George Sansbury, was originally the home of the Cumberland Daily News. It was later the property and political organ of Allegany County’s only resident to become Governor of Maryland, Lloyd Lowndes, who served in office from 1896 to 1900.
115 Baltimore Street
The Wertheimer Brothers constructed this building for their clothing emporium in 1900. Several theaters occupied the site between 1914 and 1930 and when Cromwell’s Dance Hall utilized the third floor in 1927 it was rumored to be a speakeasy during the Prohibition era.
118 Baltimore Street
Built in the early 1900s, Rosenbaum’s Department Store is a typical example of an early 20th-century department store, located in the heart of a downtown shipping district. Rosenbaum’s was built at the height of Cumberland’s economic prosperity, growth and was the grandest store between Pittsburgh and Baltimore when it opened on April 24, 1899. Architect J.S. Seibert utilized a number of Renaissance details, including three large arcades with three-sided bay windows above street level. Between each arch is a large circular molded brick medallion. Particularly interesting are the carved human heads in the stone surrounds of the arcades, placed on keystones. The impressive bracketed cornice is highlighted by a lion’s head sculpture centered above each bracket.
112 Baltimore Street
This building originally housed McCrory’s 5 & 10. After McCrory’s closed in 1981 the building sat vacant for more than a decade. The remodeling preserved much of the facade and original Art Deco detailing.
101 Baltimore Street at southeast corner of Centre Street
This corner stalwart is a fine example of Italianate commercial architecture that swept American downtown in the second half of the 1800s. It was built in 1870 and once housed two banks. The three-story brick building has upper-level windows with ornate segmental hoods.
86 Baltimore Street at northwest corner of Centre Street
Caddy-corner across the intersection is another crisp Italianate commercial building.
Third National Bank
83 Baltimore Street at southwest corner of Centre Street
The Third National Bank building, now known as the Liberty Trust Bank, is an excellent example of early 20th-century commercial architecture. Another design by Wright Butler, the bank is one of this architect’s most noteworthy buildings. Its simple form and refined details reflect a shift in popular design away from the more complex compositions and elaborate Romantic Revival details common to architecture of the mid-to-late 19th century. A distinctive feature is the bank’s rounded Centre Street corner. The red brick walls are offset with rectangular sash windows, and Hummesltown Brownstone trim (from Pennsylvania’s premiere brownstone operation at the turn of the 20th century). Characteristic of Butler’s work, the bank building features a large dropped cornice above the sixth floor pierced by a row of oculus windows.
Washington Lunchroom and Hotel
80 Baltimore Street
Originally the Washington Lunchroom and Hotel, this was a design of George Sansbury in 1911. It was a theatrical hotel, catering to many famous actors who performed in Cumberland in the early 1900s. Highlights of the white-glazed, brick-trimmed mid-block building include scroll keystones and a wreath motif.
Dime Savings Bank
76 Baltimore Street
This classical marble facade was originally designed and built in 1911 for the Dime Savings Bank at a cost of $7,100 from a Wright Butler design. The bank was chartered in 1906 and merged with Liberty Bank of Maryland in 1920.
Second National Bank
71 Baltimore Street, southeast corner of Liberty Street
One of the most architecturally distinctive buildings on Baltimore Street is the Second National Bank building, now known as the F&M Bank. Constructed in the 1880s, it is an outstanding example of late 19th-century commercial architecture. Architect Bruce Price, a Cumberland native, designed this building and Emmanuel Episcopal Church’s parish House before departing for a successful career in New York. The building’s design incorporates an interesting mix of Byzantine and Romanesque architectural influences.
Two and one half stories, the Second National Bank features orange colored brick, brownstone trim, gabled tile roof, a Romanesque doorway on the east, and a semicircular bay on the west. Its rich decorative details and variety in forms and shapes are common to the broad Romantic Revival architectural styles of the mid-to-late 19th century. The round arched windows, rusticated stone and heavy decorative details of the Second National Bank building are typical Romanesque elements. Particularly noteworthy brownstone details include the impressive cornice about the entrance, in a floral design, and the brownstone lions seated above each pilaster.
FOLLOW BALTIMORE STREET ACROSS WILLS CREEK TO BEGIN A TOUR OF THE WASHINGTON STREET HISTORIC DISTRICT. THE TOUR WILL EXPLORE THE SOUTH SIDE OF WASHINGTON STREET UP TO THE 600 BLOCK AND THEN RETURN DOWN THE NORTH SIDE.
One of the city’s most visually impressive neighborhoods, Washington Street is comprised of numerous high-style examples of mid-19th and early 20th century architectural styles, ranging from Greek Revival to Victorian, Colonial Revival to bungalows. Various prominent Cumberland citizens have resided on the tree-shaded street, including the president of the C&O Canal, state congressmen, and former state governors.
The historic district lies on a ridge west of Wills Creek, from which Washington Street extends over a series of steep hills. The eastern portion of the district was once Fort Cumberland. Built in the 1750s, the Fort served as a frontier outpost during the French and Indian War, and as George Washington’s headquarters. In the 1780s when the town of Cumberland was laid out, the fort was the focal point. Slowly, major city buildings and upper class houses were built along Washington Street. The fort area was replaced with county institutions such as the courthouse, the county’s first school which later became the library, churches, a hotel and a few other commercial buildings. Three major architects made their imprint on the district. John Notman, founder of the American Institute of Architects and a facilitator of the American Gothic Revival, designed the Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Cumberland native, Bruce Price, designed Emmanuel’s Gothic parish hall, before developing a successful career in New York. Locally prominent architect, Wright Butler received his first commission for the Allegany County Courthouse, to which he applied aspects of the Richardson Romanesque style. Butler, along with other local architects George Sansbury and Robert Holt Hitchens, designed most of the 20th-century houses in the district.
By the beginning of World War II, the neighborhood began a period of decline. Many of the houses were divided into apartments as Cumberland’s residents were attracted to more suburban neighborhoods. Today, the attraction of living along Washington Street has been rediscovered, and the district has once again become a prestigious residential neighborhood.
TURN LEFT ON GREENE STREET.
18 Greene Street
As a boy growing up in Pennsylvania, David John Lewis went to work in the coal pits at the age of nine. With only a fourth grade education he studied law at night as a young man and began practicing in Cumberland. Elected to the United States Congress in 1911 he shepherded the bill that introduced parcel post service to rural America and later, “The Father of Parcel Post” also led the legislative fight for social security and workmen’s compensation in the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Standing only a tick over five feet tall, Lewis was known for his intellectual passion and tireless work ethic. He never profited from his public service as his modest 1906 house attests.
Potomac Lodge #100
30 Greene Street
This cornerstone for the Masonic Temple was laid in 1911 on top of the historic hill where Fort Cumberland once commanded the valley. Earthwork tunnels remaining from the fort run under the hill. Built in 1754 it was first known as Mt. Pleasant but when General Edward Braddock enlarged it the following year he named it for his friend, the Duke of Cumberland. The only building to remain from the fort is the small cabin that was used by George Washington as his headquarters when he was in the Cumberland area with his Virginia troops. It has been moved to nearby Riverside Park. Wright Butler did the design for the lodge of the world’s oldest fraternal organization; its roots in Cumberland reach back to 1816. The temple cost $75,000 and included wall paintings by Cumberland’s DuBrau Art Studio and elaborately carved furniture by local manufacturers H.U.F. Flurshutz and Son.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO WASHINGTON STREET AND TURN LEFT, HEADING UP THE HILL.
Emmanuel Episcopal Church
16 Washington Street
This is one of Maryland’s most outstanding examples of early Gothic Revival architecture. The church was constructed around 1850 and designed by well-known Philadelphia architect John Notman. It is modeled after St. Paul’s Church in Brighton, England. The design in the form of a cross, executed in native yellow sandstone, is typical ecclesiastical architecture of the second quarter of the 19th century, especially that of the Episcopal Church. The tab for the church and its furniture was $18,000.
Emmanuel Episcopal Church Parish House
16 Washington Street
The Parish House was built in 1903 and designed by Cumberland native Bruce Price who chose elements of the popular Second Empire style, an eclectic style based loosely on French architecture during the reign of Napoleon - projecting pavilion, tall windows and dramatic roof.
28 Washington Street
Researchers date this building from the first half of the 1800s making it one of the oldest on Washington Street. Its high ceilings, thick doors and massive foundation typify early house architecture although its residential days are long past. Over the years it has done service as a church, bank, and law office.
Washington’s Last Visit
30 Washington Street
On October 16, 1794, President George Washington arrived in Cumberland to review about 5,000 troops of the Maryland and Virginia militia gathered here during the Whiskey Rebellion. A few days later, this militia army assembled upon the parade ground of old Fort Cumberland, where the Allegany County Courthouse now stands. The President appeared dressed in his full military uniform, and the entire population of the town was present to witness this historic event. General Washington rode along the line, from right to left, and was loudly cheered by the men. Afterwards the command marched in review, and Washington raised his hat as a salute, while they passed. Washington had received his first command in Cumberland in 1755 and this was his last visit.
Allegany County Court House
30 Washington Street
Although many church spires dot the Cumberland landscape, it is the Allegany County Courthouse that dominates this city’s skyline. Historically, courthouses in America have been the most architecturally impressive buildings within a community, the better to convey the authority of a local government, as well as to instill respect and recognition. Designed in 1893, the Courthouse was the first major commission of Wright Butler who based his design for this public building on the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style. The massing and detail of the Courthouse are typical of this late 19th-century style, developed from the works of architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Characteristic of this style, the Courthouse combines the use of brick highlighted with stone belt courses and presents a uniform rock-faced exterior finish. The building’s ribbons of windows set deeply into the walls, and large arched entry are also typical Richardsonian features. Less typical is the Courthouse’s tower buttressed with round columns that rises above the three-story building.
C. William Gilchrist Museum Of The Arts
104 Washington Street
Judge Thomas Perry began building this Federal style residence in 1843 making it one of the oldest brick structures on Washington Street. After Perry died in 1871, Judge Oliver Cromwell Gephart purchased property in 1875 at public auction for $10,000. The Gepharts enriched the house with many new features and additions including a columned porch, pediment dormers and a new carriage house. Later the Gepharts added a large new wing which included a kitchen with running water, upper and lower porches on the south side and a sleeping porch located on the west site of the residence. Four generations later the house was purchased by Mrs. Jeanette Gilchrist and donated to the Cumberland Cultural Foundation for the purpose of creating a gallery to be named in memory of her husband, C. William Gilchrist, a patron of the arts. The museum contains six renovated galleries, an art library and landscaped gardens.
108 Washington Street
This Second Empire residence was built in the 1860s for William Walsh who served two terms in the United States House of Representatives in the 1870s. James E. Walsh was also born in this house in 1891; as a Catholic priest he went to Communist China in 1948 to take charge of the Catholic Central Bureau to coordinate mission activities in China. When the Chinese communists got into power in 1949 they targeted Catholic clergy for harassment. The Bureau was shut down by the government in 1951 and in 1959 Father Walsh was arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He spent twelve years of his prison sentence in isolation before being suddenly released at the age of 80. The house was purchased by Allegany County in 1936 for Board of Education offices.
110 Washington Street
This Greek Revival-influenced house was built in 1853 and is most associated with the Somerville family. John Somerville helped establish the celebrated George’s Creek coal industry west of town.
112 Washington Street
Another Greek Revival house with the entrance through the gable, built in 1854 and owned by R.H. Shearer who operated a hardware and saddlery at 29 Baltimore Street.
206 Washington Street
This Queen Anne home dates to the late 19th century.
208 Washington Street
This house adds a Second Empire-influenced roof to an Italianate villa. Built in the 1860s the dining room has Tiffany stained glass bay windows and original shutters.
218 Washington Street
This Second Empire house was commissioned in 1867 by Josiah Gordon, president of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. Today it serves as home of the Allegany County Historical Society.
220 Washington Street
This was the home of attorney Robert Gordon. Lake Gordon, source of Cumberland’s water supply, was named for Robert.
300 Washington Street
This Italianate brick house (with later obvious additions) was constructed in the 1860s for Joseph Shriver, an engineer on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and the National Road. In his capacity as a bank president during the Civil War, Shriver advanced soldiers from the Eleventh Indiana Zouaves their pay when it was not forthcoming from the government. Maria Shriver is a descendent of Joseph Shriver.
306 Washington Street
This is a fine example of the picturesque Queen Anne style from the 1890s.
400 Washington Street
Wright Butler designed this Colonial Revival house for Bayse Roberts in 1890. Roberts was an engineer who built the first railroad in South America and went on to head the Street Car Company of Cumberland.
408 Washington Street
This brick house with touches of several Victorian styles was constructed in the 1870s for Daniel Annan, whose great-grandfather Daniel Roberdeau was a Revolutionary War general and member of the Continental Congress.
412 Washington Street
Wright Butler blended Queen Anne and Colonial Revival architecture for this 1890 house, built for W.C. Devecmon, descendent of Pierre d’Evequemont, French aristocrat and cousin of Louis XVI. The house was later sold to the Schwarzenbach family of clothiers. It features five full floors and a 30x40 foot living room that was once a ballroom.
418 Washington Street
Judge Robert MacDonald built this house in 1897. His wife Eleanor was the daughter of Jacob Humbird, an engineer on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and one of the country’s great tunnel builders of the 19th century.
508 Washington Street
This distinctive 1880 house uses elements from the Second Empire and Italianate styles. When built there was a carriage house and grazing pasture out back. The interior was outfitted with double moldings, crystal door knobs, beveled glass doors and cast iron fireplaces.
A. Hooten Blackiston House
514 Washington Street
A. Hooten Blackiston, a prominent member of the Cumberland bar, had this Italianate villa constructed in 1874. The tower provided a spectacular view that Blackiston was only able to enjoy for a few years; he died in 1878.
516 Washington Street
Charles H. Holtzman began his business career in the drug trade as a clerk and by the time this house was built in 1890 he was doing the largest prescription trade in Allegany County. He became active in Republican politics and rose to become chairman of the Republican State Central Committee of Allegany County, a post he held for ten years. During the Harding administration in the early 1920s he was appointed Collector of the Port of Baltimore at which time he left the City.
522 Washington Street
This Second Empire house was built in 1871; the tower was added in 1900.
528 Washington Street
Merwin McKaig had positions in the McKaig Foundry, Cumberland Steel, Liberty Trust Company, the Fort Cumberland Hotel and many others. He built this Neoclassical mansion in 1890 and McKaigs lived here until 1963. When the last of the clan, William Wallace McKaig III, died that year several million dollars went to the Pittsburgh National Bank for the establishment of the Lalitta Nash McKaig Foundation to provide scholarships for western Maryland students.
532 Washington Street
Walter J. Muncaster, one of the founders of Cumberland Steel, built this Georgian Revival home in 1912.
628-630 Washington Street
This Colonial Revival double house was built in the early 1900s.
F. Brooke Whiting Museum
632 Washington Street
The F. Brooke Whiting Museum houses Brooke Whiting’s Master Collection, which he amassed through inheritance, world traveling, and dealings with prestigious antique dealers and auction houses around the world. The museum is a 1911 American Bungalow house museum, built by George Sansbury.
CROSS THE STREET AND WALK DOWN THE NORTH SIDE OF WASHINGTON STREET.
The Little House
605 Washington Street
This is the smallest house on Washington Street, built in the early 1880s by Judge Henry Hoffman with a mix of Queen Anne and Shingle styles. Inside the house features a beautifully curved staircase, a Colonial Revival fireplace with a bullrush design in cast iron.
535 Washington Street
This home was built in 1870 for Judge Ferdinand Williams who married Flora Johnson that same year - Johnson being the grand niece of Thomas Johnson, the first Governor of Maryland. Williams was a popular after-dinner speaker around the City and presided over the celebration when George Washington’s headquarters was donated in 1921, with General John J. Pershing as the honored guest.
531 Washington Street
This Eclectic Revival style home was built in 1920 by architect Robert Holt Hitchins of Cumberland. He also drew up the plans for the United States Post Office that operated on Pershing Street in the day.
527 Washington Street
Will Lowdermilk was the founder of the Daily Transcript, the first daily newspaper to be published in Cumberland. He was successful enough to build this Italianate villa around 1860. During the Ulysses Grant administration from 1868 to 1876, he was appointed Postmaster of Cumberland and during this time wrote and published the book History of Cumberland. After Grant left office Lowdermilk moved to Washington, D.C. and opened Lowdermilk’s Book Store.
519 Washington Street
Herman Schneider designed this Colonial Revival house with gambrel roof for Judge Robert Henderson in 1890, who was a classmate of Woodrow Wilson (class of 1879), who he entertained here.
515 Washington Street
The Gothic style was most office found in ecclesiastical buildings but here it is adapted for the home of Jonathan Magruder. It dates to 1855.
501 Washington Street
Hunter Boyd, Chief Justice of the Maryland Court of Appeals, built this Queen Anne house of natural oak and cherry in 1890. Notice that the windows are symmetrically arranged despite the eclectic style. Boyd was an honorary pallbearer at the funeral of General Robert E. Lee.
417-419 Washington Street
Elements of Second Empire, Classical, Queen Anne and Stick Style can all be seen in this house that has been converted to a duplex.
403 Washington Street
Judge Albert A. Doub purchased this house in 1914. It featured 24 rooms, 13-foot ceilings, chestnut wood stairways and stained glass double doors and windows. Mrs. Doub was remembered for sitting in the middle of Washington Street to paint and forcing cars to detour around her.
217 Washington Street
This picturesque 1890s Queen Anne is now used as apartments.
207-209 Washington Street
More apartments, this time converted from an 1840s Greek Revival double house.
201 Washington Street
This Greek Revival house dates to 1846. It was built by William O. Sprigg, a banker and civic leader in Cumberland. The Sprigg family were known Southern sympathizers and during the Civil War they were taken into custody and forced to leave so it could be used by Union officers.
Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church
115 Washington Street
This Classical Revival church rose in 1958 after the congregation’s downtown chapel was demolished for commercial development.
103-105 Washington Street
Benjamin Richmond built these Queen Anne-Italianate dwellings in 1900.
101 Washington Street
Calton Bretz, president of the C & P Railroad, built this expansive home in 1880. The conservatory on the right with curving bay windows originally sported a glass roof.
TURN LEFT ON PROSPECT SQUARE.
31 Prospect Square
The street that squares the Allegany County Court House and Library was once the parade grounds of Fort Cumberland. This cottage-style house was built around 1850.
TURN LEFT ON NORTH JOHNSON STREET.
101 North Johnson Street
The Cumberland Theatre is Western Maryland’s only regional professional theatre, started inthe Schwartzenbach Building downtown in 1988. With the building about to be sold the organization purchased and renovated a former church building on Johnson Street, now known as The Cumberland Theatre/Creative Arts Center. In the Theatre’s fourth season, the new building was dedicated, the parking lot was joined with neighboring First Presbyterian Church’s parking lot, actors were being housed in a neighboring convent (courtesy of St. Mary’s Church), and seating was donated from the Synagogue. The season opened, naturally, with a production of “Nunsense.”
15-17 Prospect Square
These twinned houses were constructed in the 1840s in a Greek Revival style.
Allegany County Public Library
31 Washington Street
The Greek temple section of the library was built in 1849-1850 as the Allegany County Academy. It was the oldest school in the Alleghenies, chartered in 1798. After 131 years the Academy closed in 1929 and in 1934 the building opened as the Cumberland Free Public Library.
First Presbyterian Church
11 Washington Street
The Presbyterian community in Cumberland can be traced back to 1810. This Gothic Revival church building was constructed of native gray sandstone in 1871-72. The site had been purchased in 1870 for $5,000. The doors, chancel, rail and pews are beautifully carved from solid black walnut. The slated frame spire built on the stone belfry and tower were added in 1892.
7-9 Washington Street
This early Cumberland building was erected in 1839 as a Masonic Temple. Later it was used as a dance academy known as Terpsichoreap Hall. Beginning in 1928 it became known as The Professional Building.
Algonquin Apartment Hotel
Baltimore Street at Greene Street
The Algonquin Apartment Hotel was constructed in 1926. It boasted of 33 hotel apartments, completely equipped, including maid service. About 1936 the hotel was remodeled and apartments converted to hotel rooms. After 60 years of operation, the Algonquin closed its doors in 1986. After renovation, it reopened in 1989 as the Kensington-Algonquin, a senior citizen housing facility.
CROSS BACK OVER WILLS CREEK AND TURN RIGHT ON CANAL STREET TO RETURN TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT THE WESTERN MARYLAND RAILWAY STATION.