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The National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places and the City of Cumberland, Maryland, proudly invite you to explore All Aboard For Cumberland. Cumberland is located in mountainous Allegany County, Maryland, at the base of converging mountain ridges at the confluence of Wills Creek and the Potomac River. Established in 1787, the city conforms in its layout to the rugged topography within which it is situated. George Washington truly did sleep here--his headquarters during the French and Indian War were located at Fort Cumberland. The fort, and later the city, took its name from the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II of Great Britain. Known as the "Gateway to the West," Cumberland gained prominence during the 19th century as a major transportation center and as an important economic focus for the region. The city was the site of the first National Road, the western terminus of the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal, and a center for the railroad industry. This National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary explores Cumberland's past through 27 historic places listed in the National Register that reflect over two centuries of history.
This itinerary focuses on the variety of buildings that tell the stories of Cumberland's economic and residential growth, social community, and civic development. A portion of Cumberland near the terminus of the C&O Canal has been recognized as the State of Maryland's first Certified Heritage Area. Known as Canal Place, the city is witnessing the restoration and eventual re-watering of a portion of the canal. The Preservation and Development Authority for this project is located in the historic Western Maryland Railway Station. The impressive collection of architecture from the mid-19th century to the early-20th century in the Downtown Cumberland Historic District reflects the city's prosperity and growth during that period. Individual buildings within the district such as the Fort Cumberland Hotel, Second National Bank, and Rosenbaum's Department Store reflect the variety of businesses that comprised the downtown commercial area. Cumberland also boasts many impressive houses from this period, in the Washington Street Historic District and in individual examples such as the George Truog House. Cumberland's landscape is dotted with many church spires, such as that belonging to Emanuel Episcopal Church, but the skyline is dominated by the Allegany County Courthouse, one of the many buildings that reflects the city's civic history. Through on-going preservation efforts in the Canal Place Preservation District and beyond, the rich history and architecture of the "Queen City" will be maintained for future generations.
All Aboard For Cumberland offers numerous ways to discover the historic properties that played important roles in Cumberland's past. Each property features a brief description of the site's significance, color and historic photographs, and public accessibility information. At the bottom of each page, the visitor will also find a navigation bar containing links to four essays that explain more about Transportation, The C&O and B&O, Cumberland's History, and Preservation. These essays provide historical background, or "contexts," for many of the sites included in the itinerary. The itinerary can be viewed online, or printed out if you plan to visit Cumberland in person.
Created through a partnership between the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, the City of Cumberland, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), and the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC), All Aboard For Cumberland is the fourth example of a new and exciting cooperative project. As part of the Department of the Interior's strategy to revitalize communities by promoting public awareness of history and encouraging tourists to visit historic places throughout the nation, the National Register of Historic Places is cooperating with communities, regions and Heritage Areas throughout the United States to create online travel itineraries. Using places listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the itineraries help potential visitors plan their next trip by highlighting the amazing diversity of this country's historic places and supplying accessibility information for each featured site. In the Learn More section, the itineraries link to regional and local web sites that provide visitors with further information regarding cultural events, special activities, and lodging and dining possibilities.
Cumberland is the fourth of more than 30 communities and regions working directly with the National Register of Historic Places to create travel itineraries. Additional itineraries will debut online in the future. The National Register of Historic Places and the City of Cumberland hope you enjoy this virtual travel itinerary of the city's historic resources. If you have any comments or questions, please just click on the provided e-mail address, "comments or questions" located at the bottom of each page.
Office of the Mayor
Dear Internet Visitor:
Please allow me to extend the warmest welcome from Cumberland, a small city nestled in the Allegheny Mountains of Western Maryland. Just a short 130 miles to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, MD, and only 100 miles from Pittsburgh, PA, Cumberland is close to urban meccas but far enough away to enjoy a completely different pace of life. Our mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to a city of 21,518, a city known for both its late 19th to early 20th century architecture and its long transportation history. Cumberland proudly boasts that we were the starting point for the National Road, the first Federally funded highway, as well as the terminus of the C&O Canal. We're still a major rail hub for the CSX rail line and many people visit the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, which provides train enthusiasts a trip up a mountain via either a real steam engine or a vintage diesel. A ride on our railroad is just one treat we have to offer. Once you're here, we'll send you off on a splendid walking tour of a Victorian neighborhood found right in the heart of town. The tour offers a view and a history of houses that are striking in their architectural beauty. Much of the rich architectural heritage that the city enjoys today is a reflection of the city's prosperity and growth during the mid-19th through early 20th centuries. Throughout the city, and particularly in the downtown and Washington Street districts, a variety of architectural styles that typified the period can be viewed today, including Richardsonian Romanesque, Italianate, Queen Anne, Art Deco, Gothic and Greek Revival, just to name a few. Thanks to a combination of early grassroots efforts and governmental intervention, most of the architectural treasures are still in place today and are being protected for generations to come.
Local residents and visitors to the area can enjoy the not only the growing arts and cultural opportunities, including the Cumberland Theatre, Embassy Theatre, local museums and galleries, but also partake in the many recreational opportunities--year round and indoor and outdoor--that the area affords. Coming into town from Interstate 68, travelers are always struck by the beauty of the city's lighted church steeples, many of which sit atop small hilltops. Our beauty is indicative of our spirit, and we welcome all who wish to experience the best of our small town life. Come for a visit and discover why Cumberland is an excellent place to live, and enjoyable place to visit, and a profitable place to do business.
Mayor Lee N. Fiedler
Visit the City of Cumberland on the Web at http://www.ci.cumberland.md.us
Although located in the extreme reaches of western Maryland, the city of Cumberland has found itself a center of activity throughout its history. During its more than 200 years of existence, Cumberland has been a military fort, the origin point of America's first highway, the termination point of a monumental federal construction project, a western gateway to the Ohio River Valley, the processing center for rich coal fields, and a primary link on one of America's most successful railroads. Nestled dramatically at the base of converging mountain ridges and at the confluence of Wills Creek and the Potomac River, Cumberland conforms in its layout to the rugged topography within which it is situated. From its beginnings as a British fort to its place today as western Maryland's largest city, Cumberland has always lived up to its nickname as a "Queen City."
When European settlers first began moving into western Maryland in the 1730s and 1740s, they encountered Native Americans residing between the Potomac and Susquehanna rivers. Conflicts ensued, and in 1744 the Maryland legislature purchased the land from the area's Native American's, observing they would settle "for nothing less than Blood or Money." This contract opened the area to official settlement. Germans, Swiss-Germans, and Scot-Irish from Pennsylvania quickly colonized the area. Although the Maryland legislature had "purchased" the area, Virginia and Pennsylvania claimed the land as well. More troubling to the British Empire were French traders intent on securing their rights to the land.
In 1750 Virginia planters and English merchants established a trading house and small storehouse on land which is now the heart of Cumberland. The new trading post (later called Fort Cumberland) attracted the French, who moved south and west from their Lake Ontario forts, drove out the English traders and claimed the Ohio River Valley for France. In 1753, with tensions running high between the French and English, the Governor of Virginia sent a small company led by a young Virginian named George Washington to inform the French to leave English territory and return north. The French ignored Washington's warnings, and he returned to Virginia. In the spring of 1754, Colonel Washington returned to Fort Cumberland, this time with more men. Pushing north from Cumberland towards the forks of the Ohio River where Pittsburgh is now located, Washington's force (about 230 men) encountered 600 French and 100 Indians soldiers. An inexperienced 22 year-old, Washington did not withdraw, but instructed his men to build a fort, which he grimly named "Fort Necessity." On July 3, 1754, the French and Indian War officially began when both groups attacked the fort. Washington, completely surrounded and one third of his men killed, surrendered. Washington and his remaining troops were allowed to retreat (without their weapons) and returned to Fort Cumberland. With the loss of the Ohio River Valley, Fort Cumberland became the primary staging and supply point for the British on the colonial frontier.
The fort, and later the city, derived its name from the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II of Great Britain. After British General Edward Braddock led another disastrous foray into the Ohio River Valley, George Washington served as commander of the Virginia troops during the French and Indian War, and spent a considerable amount of time in the Cumberland area. The cabin that served as his headquarters is the only building to survive from the Fort, and has been moved to Riverside Park. Washington's service in the area was important, because he became convinced that expansion west into the interior of North America and the Ohio River Valley came through Cumberland's valley. Washington later started a company (which failed) to make the Potomac River navigable between the Atlantic Ocean and Cumberland.
In the years between the end of the French and Indian War and the beginning of the American Revolution, Cumberland grew as a town, was designated the seat of the newly created Allegany County, and was poised to become a major artery on the edge of the American frontier. Following the American Revolution, land hungry settlers began to push purposefully past the land west of the Appalachian Mountains. Cumberland grew slowly, until the much anticipated Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad arrived in the mid-19th century. These improved transportation routes, along with the increase development and trade opportunities they fostered, transformed this small town into the largest city in Western Maryland.
Coal mining quickly became the most important industry in the Cumberland area. Some of the richest beds of soft, bituminous coal in the country lay within the hills and mountains of this region. After the Civil War, coal became one of Maryland's chief products and exports. Coal from the Cumberland area fueled the state's mills and plants, steamships in Baltimore's harbor as well as the US Navy fleet, and was traded to buyers from London, Brazil, Egypt, and beyond. Primarily Scotch and Welsh immigrants provided the labor force for these mines, immigrating with their families for the opportunities America offered. In the Cumberland region, miners escaped the indebtedness to the mining company that plagued miners in surrounding states. The company store system, in which miners were forced to purchase all their supplies and household needs from the mining company, was outlawed in Maryland in 1868. A comparatively high proportion of miners were also homeowners, as local mining firms found it more profitable to sell houses to their miners, than establish "company" housing. Cumberland's coal mines were constructed with horizontal shafts, far less dangerous that the vertical mines of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Still, Cumberland's miners blackened from head to foot when they emerged from a mine at the end of a day knew that the carbon-filled air, which corroded the lungs overtime, would lead to an early death.
Various manufacturing plants were established in Cumberland, because of its proximity to sources of fuel and raw materials and its position on major transportation routes. Cumberland blossomed as a result, the downtown commercial area thrived, and impressive residences built around the city reflected individual prosperity. The city became the economic center of the region. Rural farmers, industrial workers and miners traveled downtown along with successful industrialists, businessmen and county officials. Glass manufacturing played an important role in the growth of Cumberland from 1880 to 1930. The Warren Glass Works Company located in South Cumberland, and the Cumberland Glass Works located at the west end of North Mechanic Street, were established in the early 1880s and would become the two major glass making firms. The industry used local coal as an economical fuel, and native pure silica sandstone in the making of the glass. At the peak of production around 1920, well over 1,000 people were employed in the glass factories and decorating shops. The onset of the Great Depression, coupled with the destruction of seven factories by fire dealt the glass industry in Cumberland a fatal blow. Recently, however, a glass decorating business opened in the city, using some equipment from the former companies.
Breweries existed in Cumberland as early as the 1870s. The Cumberland Brewing Company, which operated on North Centre Street until the late 1950s, was established in 1890. The German Brewing Company started in 1901 on Market Street and operated until 1974 when it closed its doors, marking the end of an era of local beer production.
As coal production diminished in the first quarter of the 20th century, the auto-industry moved into Cumberland and promised new jobs for former miners. Kelly-Springfield Tire Company came to Cumberland to manufacture tires in 1921. At its peak the company employed well over 2,000 people. Of the area industries still operating today, two date back to before the turn-of-the-century. Westvaco, now Allegany County's largest employer, was founded in 1888. The Luke Mill, which employs about 1,950 Tri-State area residents, is continuing its $250 million improvement program. A new wood yard and administration building are the latest additions. Cumberland Steel Company, now operated by George Wyckoff, was established in 1892 by the McKaig family, whose Greek Revival mansion still stands on Washington Street.
Through much of its more than 200-year history since the establishment of Cumberland by an act of the Maryland General Assembly in 1787, the city has thrived on its links to transportation. Much of that transportation history is a direct result of two events which occurred on July 4, 1828. On that Independence Day ground was broken for both the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal. Two important historical figures were involved in the ceremonies. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, helped turn the first shovelful of dirt for the pioneer B&O Railroad in Baltimore. Almost simultaneously in Georgetown, John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States, officiated at the groundbreaking for the C&O Canal. Along the proposed path of the canal, thousands of laborers toiled with pick axes, shovels, mule scoops, wheel barrows, and black powder. An engineering marvel was carved out of the Potomac River's north bank. Initially not considered a serious rival, the B&O Railroad picked up momentum and was soon competing with the canal for property rights. The construction routes of the two companies collided at Point of Rocks, in Frederick County, Maryland. The bitter battle for the narrow right of way drained countless dollars and caused a four year delay before the courts ruled in January 1832 in favor of the canal's appeal. However, the B&O reached Cumberland first, as the first train arrived on November 1, 1842. Construction of the 184-mile canal took much longer, and it did not reach Cumberland until October 10, 1850.
Long before the railroad and canal reached Cumberland, this city had a special role as the starting point for the first highway. The Act of Congress that admitted Ohio to the Union as the 17th state on April 30, 1802, specified that a portion of the government's profits from land sales should be spent to build a road within and to Ohio, connecting the eastern seaboard to the Trans-Allegany region. Work was started on the National Road, as it was known, west from Cumberland in 1806. Later designated as U.S. Route 40, many Conestoga wagons and stage coaches passed through Cumberland on the National Road as they bore settlers and commercial goods to Ohio and other states in the developing Midwest.
Cumberland's link to the National Road, the C&O and the B&O resulted in great prosperity and growth during the last half of the 19th century. Many of the city's most impressive commercial and residential buildings reflect this period of prosperity, and a time when Cumberland was the center of economic power and fashionable sophistication for this region of the country. The railroad industry had a tremendous impact on the development and economy of Cumberland, beginning with the arrival of the B&O Railroad in 1842. The B&O was the first railroad to challenge to the country's major canals for western trade. It was also the first regional railroad with a projected route over the mountains to the Ohio river. It had completed this feat by Christmas Eve, 1852, reached St. Louis, Missouri, by 1857 and connected to Chicago, Illinois, by 1874. The B&O was the first of five railroads that would pass through Cumberland by the 1890s, that collectively employed more than 2,000 people. The railroads transported finished goods from factories in the East to the West and agricultural products, steel, and coal from the West to the eastern cities.
The C&O Canal, which operated between Cumberland and Georgetown for 74 years, was also an important commercial link between the East and the West. The project cost investors $14 million, the same percentage of Gross National Product as the Federal government spent putting a man on the moon the following century. Canal business grew slowly, delayed by seasonal floods, then threats to commerce during the Civil War. At its peak around 1870, 750 canal boats hauled 663,500 tons of freight mostly coal, flour, iron, and limestone products. The rich harvest of coal from western Allegany County mines became the mainstay of canal shipping. A small world of canal enterprise developed in Cumberland around the two boat basins--stables, drydocks, hotels, saloons, and warehouses. Branch rail lines facilitate loading of coal. In 1870 canal boats moved almost a million tons of freight, not only coal but also building materials, lumber, and flour from local mills. A typical canal boat was 92 feet long and could carry cargo of up to 120 tons. The waterway was 40-60 feet wide at the surface and had a depth of six feet. The power of the operation was a team of two mules which pulled the boat at the end of a 100 foot long rope. The mules walked along a dirt and stone towpath that paralleled the canal. A trip down the canal to Georgetown took approximately seven days. In the early decades of the C&O's operation, the canal boats were privately owned. Many were family operations with every member contributing to the labors. Hard work and a slow pace made an average canaller's day extend from daybreak until dark.
In 1889 a devastating flood destroyed the canal. For 18 months no boats could move and the canal company went bankrupt. The B&O Railroad took over receivership under the name of the Consolidaton Coal Company. In return for restoring operations, control of the canal passed into the hands of the railroad directors. As the canal's freight business dwindled, the receivers sold parts of the basins. Under the Canal Towage Company (another subsidiary of the B&O), organized in 1902 to manage the boats, mules and watermen, the canal workers lost their independent way of life. Boats once owned by the watermen became company property; impersonal numbers replaced the boat names. The Western Maryland Railway filled in the upper reach of the main basin and built its station.
By the early 1920s, railroads made the slow-moving canal boats obsolete. The canal closed in 1924 after a flood destroyed much of its banks and locks. As new transportation patterns emerged, the economic dependence of the city on the railroad industry also decreased. Today, the 184 miles of C&O Canal and Towpath remain today as a National Park, one of the most popular in the East. A major revitalization is currently taking place in and around the terminus of the C&O Canal, as that area has been recognized as Maryland's first Certified Heritage Area, Canal Place. Western Maryland Station, in the heart of downtown Cumberland, is today 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.
Portions of this essay were excerpted from "Bicentennial: Cumberland, Maryland, A City in Celebration 1787-1987" and the website of the Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical Park website.
The city of Cumberland boasts a rich and impressive array of architectural building stock, which dates predominately from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s. Many of these treasures can be attributed to several early architects who were Cumberland natives. Three architects, in particular, left their permanent mark on the skyline and streetscapes of Cumberland and, one local architect's imagination would, in fact, stretch beyond the boundaries of Cumberland and into other parts of the world.
The Cumberland-born architect who received national and international recognition was Bruce Price. Born in 1845, Price studied architecture in Baltimore and later in Europe. He started his architectural practice in Baltimore in 1869, moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1872, and in 1877 moved to New York City. Locally, Price designed the Second National Bank (now Farmers and Merchants Bank) and the parish house for Emmanuel Episcopal Church, which is located on Washington Street. Although he designed relatively few buildings in Cumberland, he gained quite a respectable reputation in this country and around the world. Price designed the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, the Welch Dormitory at Yale University, as well as numerous residential and commercial buildings in New York City. Considered a New York City landmark, Price designed the American Surety Building in 1895.
Price not only planned the layout for new town Tuxedo Park in New York; he likewise designed a number of buildings within it. Also, he invented, patented, and built bay window railroad cars for the Pennsylvania Railroad, as well as the Boston and Albany Railroad.
Price was a member and past-president of the New York Architectural League, the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and received a Fellowship designation from the A.I.A in 1890. Of additional interest, Price was the father of Emily Post, noted for her works concerning etiquette.
Probably the architect whose works are the most numerous in the area was Wright Butler. Born the son of H. Kennedy Butler, a local furniture manufacturer of note, Wright Butler studied at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore. His works covered a spectrum of architectural styles including Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, Georgian, and Spanish Mission styles.
Perhaps one of his most visible works is the Allegany County Court House, located at Prospect Square and Washington Street. This building was designed in the Romanesque Revival style. The residence that Butler as his own home, located at 205 Columbia Avenue, is listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places and is an interesting adaptation of the Queen Anne style, designed in a narrow, vertical style to meet the restrictions of the dimensions of the city lot on which it is situated. Examples of Butler's work can be encountered throughout the Washington Street Historic District as well as the Downtown Cumberland Historic District. His trademarks include using shingled rounded towers, stone lintels, dormer windows, dropped cornices, and stone walls around the lawns. Overall, Wright designed nearly 100 buildings within Cumberland.
Another local architect whose works can be found in the Washington Street Historic District is George Sansbury. After graduating from the Maryland Institute in Baltimore in 1896, Sansbury was hired in Cumberland in the office of Herman Schneider and later opened his own office in 1900. Although his designs were not as elaborate as his contemporary, Wright Butler, examples of Sansbury's work can be located throughout the city, especially on Columbia and Shriver Avenues, as well as on Washington Street.
The legacy of the buildings that were the products of these three Cumberland-born architects defines the rich architectural heritage of the "Queen City." Bruce Price, Wright Butler, and George Sansbury embraced a variety of styles and uses of materials to create within the city a microcosm of architectural styles of the mid-19th to early 20th centuries. As we enter into a new millennium, residents and visitors alike can appreciate the extraordinary built environment that Cumberland possesses.
Written by Kathleen McKenney, Historic Planner/Preservation Coordinator, Department of Community Development, City of Cumberland.
Public and private efforts toward recognizing and conserving the historic character of Cumberland began at least as early as 1972 when the Washington Street Historic District was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Creation of the district occurred, in part, as a reaction to the demolition of many historic buildings in the downtown during the federally-supported Urban Renewal era of the 1960s and early 1970s. Perhaps the sharpest loss experienced during this time was the demolition of the Queen City Railroad Station in 1972. Seeking to ensure the protection of Washington Street's historic properties against similar outcomes, the city passed its first preservation ordinance in 1974.
In 1976, a city-wide historic resources survey and conservation plan, completed by Land and Community Associates of Charlottesville, Virginia, recommended a comprehensive set of policies and actions to help the city's overall community revitalization strategy. At about the same time, as part of an effort to stabilize the downtown's retail market, Baltimore Street was closed to traffic and transformed into an outdoor pedestrian mall. In 1983, as part of the ongoing efforts to help revitalize the city's central retail and business district, most of downtown Cumberland was designated a historic district and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. While listing in the National Register did not (and does not) offer protection against demolition or alteration, National Register listing does make income producing historic properties in the district eligible for substantial federal tax credits for rehabilitation.
Cumberland's most recent preservation initiative came in 1993 with the Maryland legislature's establishment of the Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority. The Authority was created to support the National Park Service in the preservation and enhancement of the C&O Canal National Historic Park, specifically at its Cumberland terminus in and around the Western Maryland Railway Station known as Canal Place. One of the state legislature's primary charges to the Authority was the formulation of a comprehensive action plan based upon preservation initiatives. This plan maps out a strategy to help Cumberland reposition itself regionally in the competitive heritage tourism market.
In a city where the vast majority of building stock dates from the late 19th to early 20th century, the presence of heritage is as tangible as the building next door. While that building likely isn't considered a historic landmark, or the work of a master craftsman, or the setting of a famous historic event, it does probably contribute to the overall character of the block, to a sense of place within the city. In that respect, many of the anonymous "buildings next door" form something greater than the sum of their parts. The contribute to the city's overall sense of itself, which is part of Cumberland's cultural inheritance from its rich past.
Excerpt from "Design and Preservation Guidelines for Cumberland, Maryland," courtesy of the City of Cumberland.
Wright Butler House
Francis Haley House
The residence at 205 Columbia Street is the Queen Anne home of Wright Butler, a prominent local architect whose building designs still dominate the Cumberland skyline. The son of a furniture manufacturer, Butler studied architecture at the Maryland Institute of Baltimore for three years beginning in 1888. At the Institute, Butler familiarized himself with fashionable architectural styles of the time like Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne. Upon his return to Cumberland in 1891, the young architect opened an office, working mainly on residential designs. In 1893, Butler received his first large commission, the Allegany County Courthouse. Other impressive Butler designs include the Masonic Temple, the Liberty Bank Building, and the George Troug House.
Constructed around 1896, the Wright Butler House is a unique example of Queen Anne architecture. Developed in England, the Queen Anne style first appeared in Rhode Island in 1874. American architectural magazines and pattern books quickly popularized the style. Dominating new residential construction throughout the United States in the 1880s, the Queen Anne style benefitted from America's growing railroad system and eastern factories that could cheaply churn out mass-produced architectural elements like wooden spindles, brackets, and shingles. In England, architects used a combination of masonry and timber work, but most American Queen Anne homes are all-wood construction. Wright Butler's Queen Anne design therefore stands as an unusual masonry example of the style. Using the classic "asymmetrical" feel of most Queen Anne designs, the street view is dominated by a three bay window arrangement that juts out from the rest of the building. The three bay window, repeated on the second and third stories, creates the appearance of a "tower," an oft repeated stylistic element in many Queen Anne buildings. The front porch is decorated with elaborate wooden spindle work.
The Wright Butler House is located at 205 Columbia St. It is a private residence and not open to the public.
A prominent brick building visible from many parts of Cumberland, Town Clock Church stands today as a vital reminder of Western Maryland's German immigrants. In the early 1700s, English entrepreneur Thomas Dulany first lured German settlers from Pennsylvania and Germany to Maryland with inexpensive 300-acre farms around the town of Frederick. With the American population constantly pushing west, German farmers from Frederick were among the first pioneers to move into extreme western Maryland, helping establish Fort Cumberland in the 1750s. By the 1800s, English settlers made up the majority of Cumberland's population, although numerous Germans still resided in the area.
In the early 1800s, German and English Lutherans of Cumberland all attended St. Paul's Lutheran Church. In the late 1830s, large numbers of Germans began moving to Cumberland to work in the coal fields just west of Cumberland. In 1844, with their numbers growing rapidly, German speakers at St. Paul's held a worship service all in German. In 1847, against the backdrop of "Americanization," English speaking members of St. Paul's informed German speakers that no more services in an "alien" language would be conducted in the building.
Rather than argue the matter, the German speakers left St. Paul's and founded the German Evangelical Church. The 35 members of the new congregation acquired land on a prominent hill overlooking Cumberland's downtown, and laid the church's foundation and cornerstone on June 1, 1848. According to local tradition, the Church acquired its most prominent feature, its clock and chimes, after winning a city sponsored contest challenging local churches to be the first to build a tower to house the clock. In 1895, the German Lutheran Church switched to all-English worship services. In 1931, a Disciples of Christ congregation moved into what had become known as "Town Clock Church." Endeavoring to care for the oldest unmodified church in Cumberland, the members of the First Christian Church have preserved the Town Clock Church and Cumberland's connections to its early German population for more than 60 years.
The Town Clock Church is located at 312 Bedford St. It is open to the public by appointment only. Please call 301-777-3909 well in advance.
The First Baptist Church is an unusual example of late Gothic Revival architecture in Cumberland. The church has served the city's Baptist community for a century and a half. The first Baptist congregation in Cumberland was a small group formed in the early 1840s. Without a church, this group met in a hall above a fire station. Missionary Benjamin Giffith was the first Baptist Reverend to arrive in Cumberland. By 1849 his congregation was large enough to afford the construction of a church. When complete, the large brick First Baptist Church had a capacity that was much larger than the congregation. Characteristic of Baptist and Methodist churches of the second half of the 19th century, the nave of First Baptist is on the second floor.
The large church was temporarily used as a Civil War hospital, as were many buildings in Cumberland. In December of 1861 Cumberland held 500 hospitalized soldiers, and 1,200 by the spring on 1862. After the Civil War, the congregation of First Baptist dissolved for a short period. After 1871 the congregation was active again, and in 1917 a modern Gothic Revival facade was added, using white glazed brick in contrast to the original red brick. Built at a cost of $15,000, the front facade remains the dominant architectural feature of the church. Its asymmetrical design is accented by molded buttresses and large arched tracery windows, the largest in the Cumberland area. Located on a hill visible from many points in the city, the First Baptist Church continues to be a focal point of the community.
The First Baptist Church is located at 212 Bedford St. The church is open for religious services Wednesdays at 7:00pm, Sundays at 11:00am and 6:00pm, and Sunday school at 9:45am.
Cumberland's African Methodist Episcopal Church stands today as one of Maryland's earliest examples of a free black church. In 19th century pre-Civil War America, prominent free blacks like Frederick Douglass and white abolitionists began calling for the end of slavery and the integration of African Americans into general society. Simultaneously, many other free blacks (over 500,000) were creating their own institutions as a social defense against a largely hostile white population. Free blacks throughout the northern states formed supportive associations for aiding the poorest members of society, for self-improvement, and for socializing. The major free black community organization was the "black Baptist" or African Methodist Episcopal Church. The AME church in the North served as a place of worship, a social and cultural center, a political meeting place, a hiding place for fugitives, a training ground for potential community leaders, and one of the few places where free blacks could express their true feelings.
Free blacks in Cumberland were no different than their counterparts in other large and growing Northern cities, and in 1847, after worshiping for years from the balcony of Cumberland's Methodist Episcopal Centre Street Church, a group of free blacks decided to leave the predominantly white congregation and organize their own church. The new congregation held services in its new building just a year later. Rebuilt to fit the growing congregation in 1871 and 1875, the Cumberland AME Church constructed their present building in 1891 in the "Methodist tradition" with the sanctuary on the second floor, and the Sunday school class rooms situated on the ground floor. A relatively substantial and decorated building, the Cumberland AME church reflects the growth and success of Cumberland's 19th-century African American community.
The Cumberland African Methodist Episcopal Church is located at the corner of Decatur and Frederick Sts. Tours are available by appointment only by calling 301-759-3419.
The only surviving row houses in Cumberland, the Decatur Street Row Houses, are rare examples of a type of building more often found in large urban areas. It is tempting to look only to the large, impressive homes of the Washington Street Historic District for evidence of the growth the C&O Canal and B&O Railroad brought to Cumberland, but it is important to remember that most people did not live in such elegance. In fact, many middle and working class Cumberland citizens lived in buildings identical to the Decatur Street Row Houses. The "row house" seems to have been created to meet the housing crisis that occurred after London's Great fire of 1666. In the United States, the housing form arrived first in Philadelphia, and quickly spread throughout the colonies as a very common form of urban residential architecture. Its major features include use of brick construction and symmetrically arranged windows and doors to allow for speedy and inexpensive construction, although regional variations exist. Each unit is attached to the next, sharing walls (and thereby cutting construction costs), and the exterior walls of outer units are often blank with no windows. Based upon a "full Georgian" five bay facade, row houses are often 1/3 (2 second story windows lined up over the first floor door and window) or 2/3 (3 second story windows over the first floor door and two windows) Georgian. The Decatur Street Row Houses include both 1/3 and 2/3 Georgian variants.
Built in the 1840s, it is no coincidence that the Decatur Street Row Houses appeared soon after the arrival of the B&O railroad in 1842. With new citizens moving into town to work in the new shops, factories, and mines, the need for affordable housing was high. Professionals and working classes quickly took up residence on Decatur Street, and the street retained its status as a "respectable" neighborhood well into the 20th century. Unfortunately, in recent years alterations of these unique buildings have threatened their historic appearance. The Decatur Street Row Houses have recently been identified by the city of Cumberland as a "Strategically Targeted Area for Revitalization," which will hopefully ensure the survival of an important part of Cumberland's 18th-century heritage.
The Decatur Street Row Houses are located at 200-208 Decatur St. They are private residences, and not open to the public.
The Canada Hose Company Building is the oldest of several Cumberland firehouses built in the 19th century. Typical of firehouses of that era, the firehouse building possesses large double wooden doors, above which are the words "Cumberland Hose Co. No. 1." A unique feature of the building is its large arched window on the second floor. The building stands today as a notable example of utilitarian civic architecture.
The firehouse was built following a major fire in Cumberland in 1833, which destroyed 75 buildings in the heart of the downtown area. The Cumberland Fire Engine Company had been formed three years earlier, but at the outbreak of the blaze, still had only a small amount of fire fighting equipment. As a result of this catastrophe, the city purchased new equipment for the firefighters, including a "Gooseneck" fire engine, "four ladders, three hooks, (and) four axes." The city also allotted $30 toward the construction of a new firehouse. Until the completion of the firehouse, members met in a box shed where the new engine was being stored. In 1840 the Cumberland Fire Engine Company was officially incorporated and in 1845 moved into its new firehouse on Mechanic Street, on the north bank of the Potomac River. By 1882, the Hose Company had 100 members.
Not only an outstanding example of utilitarian civic architecture, the Canada Hose Company today reflects the public pride and responsibility of the city's 19th-century residents. Currently, the firehouse is occupied by the Cumberland Neighborhood Housing office.
The Canada Hose Company Building is located at 400-402 N. Mechanic St. Tours can be arranged by calling the Cumberland Neighborhood Housing office at 301-722-6958.
The numerous glass etchings of the George Truog House reflect the skilled trade of its owner, while the building itself is the work of locally prominent architect Wright Butler. George Truog, the successful proprietor of the Maryland Glass Etching Works from 1893 to 1911, contracted Butler to remodel this house for him in 1903. 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 in 1893. Truog claimed 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, he purchased the simple late 19th-century house then at this site and hired 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 are in the process of restoring the house as a residence.
The George Truog House is located at 230 Baltimore Ave. As a private residence, it is not open to the public on a regular basis. However, private tours can be arranged with the owners by contacting Chuck Manto at 410-991-1469 or 301-777-3069.
The Thomas Koon House is a relatively rare example of Craftsman style architecture in the Cumberland and Western Maryland area. It was built in 1912 as a house and office for Thomas Koon (1870-1946), a local physician who served as Mayor of Cumberland from 1914 to 1932. Koon had a strong influence over the growth and development of the city in the early 20th century. Some of his many accomplishments as Mayor include the paving of city streets, the installation of a new water system, the construction of new firehouses, and the expansion of the city's boundaries.
The Koon house is distinguished architecturally for its design elements that differentiate it from the bungalow, the most commonly found Craftsman influenced house form in Cumberland. The Koon house was built in a large scale, with horizontal massing of rectangular shapes, a hipped roof covered with round terra cotta tiles, and a single exterior wall covering (brown brick). The interior of the house conveys a feeling of open space, an important feature of this period. While these modern forms and concepts were chosen by the architects of the Koon house, they also incorporated Queen Anne details they were familiar with from the late 19th century, such as a curved stairway, decorative mantel in the office, bowed wall of the dining room, and sash windows at the rear of the house. The house today remains a private home.
The Thomas Koon House is located at 221 Baltimore Ave., just east of the Downtown Cumberland Historic District. As a private residence, the house is not open to the public.
The Cumberland YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) building is an excellent example of institutional architecture of the early 20th century and represents the academic classicism of that period. Additionally, the YMCA building reflects the history of this community institution. Established in 1873, the Cumberland YMCA was situated at various locations prior to construction of this building in 1925. 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.
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. The more formal front portion of the building is nearly triangular, dictated by the wedge-shaped lot, and is comprised of residential rooms and larger meeting rooms, offices and service areas. The rear portion contains the gymnasium and pool. 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. Today, the YMCA building continues to embody the strong community ties and associations it has historically with the people of Cumberland.
The Cumberland YMCA is located at 205 Baltimore Ave. Call 301-724-5445 for information on programs and services offered. Portions of the building are open to the public during regular business hours.
The construction of the Greek Revival style house at 16 Altamont Terrace in 1851 signifies "frontier" Cumberland's developing connections, culturally and physically, to the east coast. During and after the American Revolution, many of the Founding Fathers pointed to the democracies of Greece and Rome as a model for the fledgling United States--legally, artistically, and architecturally. Imitating buildings like Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, the columns and pediments of Greek and Roman architecture began appearing on schoolhouses, banks, mansions, hotels and private residences throughout the United States near the beginning of the 19th century.
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. In 1842, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad had connected Cumberland and the rest of Western Maryland to Baltimore, and in 1850, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was finally completed, connecting Cumberland to the large markets of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Cumberland's economy immediately felt the positive effects of these new transportation corridors.
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 16 Altamont Terrace 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.
16 Altamont Terrace is used for private residences, and is not open to the public.
The 107 commercial, religious, and civic buildings that comprise the Downtown Cumberland Historic District reflect the prosperity and growth that ensued as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad converted this small town into a major transportation and industrial center. The district possesses an impressive collection of mid-19th to early 20th-century architectural styles, including Italianate, Art Deco, Beau Arts, Romanesque, and Georgian Revival. The well-preserved commercial buildings comprise the city's Central Business District, which remains an integral part of the town's economy.
Cumberland became a major Western Maryland transportation center upon its connection to the B&O Railroad in 1842 and the completion of the C&O Canal in 1850. These improved transportation routes fostered the explosion of the area's burgeoning coal industry. Cumberland was also Maryland's second largest manufacturing center in the mid-19th century. The community's economic prosperity and growth in population during this period fostered the desire and financial means to construct buildings that conveyed the town's importance and sophistication. The majority of buildings were constructed from1890 to 1920, including major banks, civic buildings, and department stores. The downtown area evolved as a dense collection of large scale buildings, three or more stories tall, and generally brick, with stone, metal or wood decorative trim. Many of these have been altered only minimally, primarily with the replacement of street level signs and entrances. Notable buildings include City Hall, the Bell Tower, Public Safety Building, B'er Chayim Temple, Second National Bank, Third National Bank, Fort Cumberland Hotel, Embassy Theatre and Rosenbaum's Department Store.
In the late 1970s, Baltimore Street was paved with bricks and became a pedestrian mall. Two buildings, 42-46 Baltimore Street and 118 Baltimore Street were successfully restored in the 1980s utilizing the Federal historic preservation tax credit. In 1997, the district was recognized as a Main Street Maryland community.
The heart of the Downtown Cumberland Historic District is the intersection of Baltimore and Centre Sts., bounded by their intersections with Bedford St. to the north, George St. on the east, Harrison St. to the south, and the Western Maryland railroad tracks to the west. Most of the buildings are either commercial or civic and are open to the public during normal business hours. Motorcoach tours and carriage rides through the district can be arranged through Westmar Tours at 301-777-0293 or 1-800-336-7963.
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 neo-classical 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. Geographically, City Hall occupies a crucial location downtown and is the center of Cumberland's public building complex.
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.
City Hall is located on N. Centre St. between Frederick and Bedford Sts. It is open to the public Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm.
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.
In 1874, the city council identified the need for a new "Police Headquarters and Station House" (or jail). A special committee chose the corner of Liberty and Mill (now Bedford) Streets as the site for the new station. However, a purchase price for the land could not be agreed upon. Cumberland was still without a new station house nearly ten years later when the chosen lot was purchased by Jacob Humbrid, a prosperous railroad contractor for the Baltimore and Ohio. Humbrid, Mayor of Cumberland when negotiations for the Police Station lot had begun, leased the lot to the City in 1884, with the stipulation that the City of Cumberland build a "good and substantial" building on the site within two years. Newspaper clippings from May 5, 1885 indicate that the station house had been completed and was ready for occupancy. Another provision of the lease determined that at the time of Humbrid's death, in 1898, his heirs conveyed the property to the city.
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.
The Bell Tower Building is located at the southwest corner of Bedford and Liberty Sts. Currently the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce, the building is open to the public during normal business hours, although tours are not available.
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. For a large part of U.S. history, the postal system has served as the only means of affordable long distance communication. 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.
The buildings constructed for use as post offices have reflected various government and architectural philosophies. Beginning in the 1850s, the U.S. Treasury Department controlled the design of all new Federal buildings. In 1859, James Knox Taylor became supervising architect of the Treasury. During his 53-year tenure, Taylor's architectural designs promoted the concept that government buildings should be monumental, represent the ideals of democracy, and set a standard for architectural sophistication in their communities. Taylor's buildings, as a rule, are "neo-classical" or "Georgian Revival" monuments that integrate Greek and Roman classical details into newer "modern" construction techniques.
In 1795, Cumberland, still a "frontier" village, opened its first U.S. Post Office in a log building. Six post offices and 100 years later, Cumberland was a booming transportation and industrial center. In 1895, the U.S. Congress authorized the erection of a large new post office and purchased a site from local real estate dealer and Republican party supporter John Holzshu for $20,000. Taylor's design closely follows his philosophies, and in 1904, the impressive Neo-classical Cumberland U.S. Post Office opened--with John Holzshu as Postmaster.
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 headquarter's of Cumberland's Human Resource Development Commission.
The former Public Safety building is located at 19 Frederick St. Although tours are not available, the building is open to the public during regular business hours.
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 downtown. Rosenbaum's was built at the height of Cumberland's economic prosperity, growth, and corresponding construction in the downtown area. Architecturally, it is one of the city's most outstanding examples of commercial architecture. 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.
Rosenbaum's is typical of major downtown department stores built in towns across the country. First appearing in the 1860s, department stores offered a great range of goods and services under one very large roof, a contrast to the variety of speciality stores which had previously comprised downtown commercial areas. Their popularity grew as the goods and services offered increased, and shopping at the department store became a pastime of middle-class women. From the 1890s to the years prior to World War I department store construction boomed. Stores like Rosenbaum's were larger and more luxurious than their predecessors, and symbolized America's growing consumerism.
Rosenbaum's Department Store is located at 118 Baltimore St., and is a contributing building to the Downtown Cumberland Historic District. Now the Keystone Financial Bank, it is open to the public during normal banking hours.
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.
The Fort Cumberland Hotel is located at the corner of Baltimore and Liberty Sts., and is a contributing building to the Downtown Cumberland Historic District. Now the Cumberland Arms, it is not open to the public.
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 the building, as well as Emmanuel Episcopal Church's parish House, before developing 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.
The Second National Bank building is located at 71 Baltimore St., and is a contributing building to the Downtown Cumberland Historic District. Now the F&M Bank, it is open to the public during normal banking hours.
The Third National Bank building, now known as the Liberty Trust Bank, is an excellent example of early 20th-century commercial architecture. Designed in the early 1900s by locally prominent architecture Wright Butler, the bank is one of this architects most noteworthy buildings. Built originally to house Cumberland's branch of the Third National Bank, this building offers an interesting comparison to the Second National Bank building built two decades earlier, and located just one block to the west. At six stories tall, Third National is considerable taller than the earlier financial institution. More importantly, its simple form and refined details reflect a shift in early 20th-century architecture away from the more complex compositions and elaborate Romantic Revival details common to architecture of the mid-to-late 19th century.
Third National Bank is a commanding building at one of the Downtown Historic District's central intersections. 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.
The Third National Bank building is located at 83 Baltimore St., at its intersection with Centre St., and is a contributing building to the Downtown Cumberland Historic District. It is currently an office building, and not open to the public.
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 . Prevalent from the 1920s to 1940s, the Art Deco movement 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 will once again be used as a theater.
The Embassy Theatre is located at 49 Baltimore St., and is a contributing building to the Downtown Cumberland Historic District. It is only open during special events, call 301-722-4692 to arrange a tour.
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 and reflects the history of Jewish worship in Cumberland.
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 first members of this congregation practiced orthodox customs and rituals, such as the separation of men and women at services. 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 contrast, the decorative mouldings, 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 at that time. The American Reform Judaism movement was an attempt to modernize synagogue worship and a reevaluation of Jewish theology. Worship reform included choral singing, organ music, and the use of German instead of Hebrew for prayers and sermons. The B'er Chayim congregation's dissatisfaction with old forms and ceremonies resulted in many changes. Just a year after the Temple was completed, gender separation at services ended. By 1875, the practice of covering the head during services was discontinued. Today the Temple still serves as a place of worship for the B'er Chayim Congregation.
The B'er Chayim Temple is located at the corner of South Centre and Union Sts. Religious services are held on Fridays at 7:30pm, tours are available by appointment. Please call 301-722-5688.
Stretching 184.5 miles alongside the Potomac River between the nation's capital and Cumberland, Maryland, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park preserves remnants of America's transportation history. For nearly a century the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was the lifeline for communities and businesses along its route as it floated coal, lumber, grain and other products to market from 1828-1924. Laborers began digging with picks and shovels in 1828. When finished 22 years later, the waterway averaged 40 to 60 feet wide and six feet deep and included handsome stone aqueducts and a remarkable 3,118 foot long brick-lined tunnel. Seventy-four lift locks adjusted water levels for a 605-foot difference in elevation between the western terminus in the mountains and tidewater in the east.
The final section of the canal, which terminated at Cumberland, opened October 10, 1850. A joyful crowd gathered to celebrate the long awaited opening of the C&O. A procession of citizens and officials marched to the locks at the mouth of Wills Creek where five coal boats waited to start the run down to Georgetown. Even during its contruction, the C&O was competing with a powerful new form of transportation--the railroad. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad had begun its East-West route on the same day as the canal, but it reached Cumberland eight years earlier. Handicapped by dry spells, floods, and winter freezes, the canal could not match the speed and dependability of its rival. Loss of business to the railroad combined with costly flood damage forced the canal the close in 1924.
Hundreds of original structures, including locks, lockhouses, and aqueducts, serve as reminders of the canal's role as a transportation system during the Canal Era. In addition, the canal's towpath provides a nearly level, continuous trail through the spectacular scenery of the Potomac River Valley. Every year millions of visitors come to hike or bike the C&O Canal in order to enjoy the natural, cultural, and recreational opportunities available.
The C&O National Historic Park is open daily from dawn to dusk. There are six visitor centers along the park, in Cumberland visit the Western Maryland Station Visitors Center at 13 Canal Street, Rm 304, open 9am to 5pm daily. Call 301-722-8226 for further information, or visit the park's website.
The Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.
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 capitol, 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.
The Western Maryland Railway station is located on Canal Street. The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad offers daily train rides and specialty theme rides from May to December. Call 1-800-872-4650 for further information. The station building is part of the Canal Place Heritage Area, the state's first Certified Heritage Area. In addition to the railway station, visitors can also vist the new C&O Canal National Historic Park's exhibit and visitor's center, open ; the main Allegany Coiunty Visitor Information Center, open ; "The Cumberland" a full-scale canal boat replica that offers guided tours May to October; and the Canal Place Festival Grounds which host a variety of events and festival including the C&O CanalFest in May and Maryland RailFest in October. Call 301-724-3655 or 1-800-989-9394 or visit the Canal Place website for further information
The Washington Street Historic District is a primarily residential neighborhood west of downtown Cumberland, home to the city's entrepreneurial and managerial class, as well as social and political leaders. 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 Revial 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.
Although most buildings are private residences and are not open to the public, sites such as the Allegany County Library and the Allegany County Courthouse are open during normal business hours. The Allegany County Historical Society provides tours of History House at 218 Washington St. Call 301-777-8678 for further information. Motorcoach tours and carriage rides throug
Constructed in the 1860s, the Walsh House was built in the popular Second Empire style. It is an excellent example of this style, constructed in a symmetrically square block with a projecting central pavilion and decorated with deep architectural details. Specifically the Walsh House features a mansard roof, the style's most distinguishing element. Also typical is the full third story within the roof structure, and large heavily detailed windows punctuating the roof surface.
The house was built by William Walsh, a noted local lawyer who occupied a seat for two terms in the United States House of Representatives in the 1870s. A later occupant of the house, Bishop James Walsh, was a prisoner of Communist China for 12 years and a local school was named in his honor. The Walsh House is currently occupied by the Allegany County Board of Education.
The Walsh House is located at 106-108 Washington St., and is a contributing building to the Washington Street Historic District. The Board of Education offices are open during normal business hours.
Although many church spires dot the Cumberland landscape, it is the Allegany County Courthouse that dominates this city's skyline. The building is prominently sited along Washington Street, which rises sharply from Willis Creek running through the heart of Cumberland. Historically, courthouses in America have been one of the most architecturally impressive buildings within a community. In this way, the architecture of the building was able to convey the authority of a local government, as well as instill respect and recognition.
Designed in 1893, the Courthouse was the first major commission of local architect Wright Butler. Butler 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. One of the pinnacle examples of a H. H. Richardson's work is the Alleghany County Courthouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which Cumberland's Courthouse strongly resembles.
The Allegany County Courthouse is located at 30 Washington St., and is a contributing building to the Washington Street Historic District. Portions of the building are open to the public during regular business hours.
Emmanuel Church, standing at the eastern end of the Washington Street Historic District, is one of Maryland's most outstanding examples of early Gothic Revival architecture. The church is situated on the former site of Fort Cumberland, and earthwork tunnels remaining from the fort run under the church. 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 is typical ecclesiastical architecture of the second quarter of the 19th century, especially that of the Episcopal Church.
The Parish House was built in 1903 and designed by Cumberland native Bruce Price before developing a successful career in New York. Price chose elements of the popular Second Empire style for the Parish House, an eclectic style based loosely on French architecture during the reign of Napoleon. The Parish house features elements typical of this style, such as a projecting pavilion, tall windows and roof, and deep architectural details. Many other houses of the Washington Street Historic District resemble the Parish House, but also feature a mansard roof--this style's central characteristic.
The church and parish house sit on land that was originally Fort Cumberland, which served as a frontier outpost during the French and Indian War. 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.
Emmanuel Episcopal Church and Parish House are located at 16 Washington St., and are contributing buildings to the Washington Street Historic District. Church services are open to the public, and the tunnels are open for tours during the Heritage Days festival in June.
The Francis Haley House is a good example of mid-19th-century middle-class domestic architecture, with Italianate elements, in Cumberland. Throughout various eras in American history, middle-class house builders across the country adapted elements from popular 19th-century architectural styles, such as the Italianate, Gothic and Victorian. These styles were applied with a more limited range of features to homes for the middle-class in a way that was less expensive, yet indicated the modernity of the house and its occupants. The Haley House is typical of this type of house form in Cumberland, and provides a contrast to the city's elaborate upper-class Italianate houses, such as those within the Washington Street Historic District.
The Haley House was built around 1870 for successful local brick manufacturer Francis Haley. Haley was active in the brick trade from the 1840s until his death in the early 1880s. In 1875, he was appointed a member of the committee for building a new city hall. Haley was partially responsible for the construction of the surrounding Rolling Mill neighborhood, where his extensive brick yards were located, along with industrial B&O Railroad operations for which the neighborhood was named. With the growth of the railroad, Rolling Mill rapidly expanded. The Haley House was one of the neighborhood's most elaborate homes. His appropriately brick house has been altered very little since Haley's occupancy, and is still comprised of two perpendicular rectangular blocks with low gabled roofs that are supported by brackets. The windows in the gable end feature rounded arches and the interior details are simple, yet massive. A portion of the original iron fence manufactured in Ohio, still separates the house from the street.
The Francis Haley House is located at 634 Maryland Ave. It is a private residence, and is not open to the public.
Bishop, James W. The Glass Industry of Allegany County, Maryland: Cumberland, Mt. Savage, Lonaconing, Lavale. Cumberland, Maryland: J.W. Bishop, 1968.
Brugger, Robert J. Maryland, A Middle Temperament, 1634-1980. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Maryland Historical Society, 1988.
Chapelle, Suzanne Ellery Greene. Maryland, A History of its People. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986.
Downton, G. David. Waterway to the West; A Brief History of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. Allegany County, Maryland: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Association, 1971.
Genealogical Society of Allegany County. Historic Records of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Cumberland, Maryland. LaVale, Maryland: The Society, 1984.
Lowdermilk, William Harrison. History of Cumberland, (Maryland) From the Time of the Indian Town, Caiuctucuc, in 1728, up to the Present Day. Baltimore, Maryland: Regional Publishing Company, 1971.
McKaig, Priscilla Ellen Beall. The McKaig Journal: A Confederate Family of Cumberland. Cumberland, Maryland: Allegany County Historical Society, 1984.
Newell, Dianne. The Failure to Preserve the Queen City Hotel, Cumberland, Maryland. Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States, 1975.
Parks, A. Franklin and John B. Wiseman, eds. Maryland, Unity in Diversity: Essays on Maryland Life and Culture. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1990.
Schwartz, Lee G. Allegany County: A Pictorial History. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Donning, 1980.
Scott, Harold L.Sr. The Civil War hospitals at Cumberland & Clarysville, Maryland. Cumberland, Maryland: H.L. Scott, 1995.
Scott, Harold L. Sr. Legends of Allegany County. Cumberland, Maryland: H.L. Scott, Sr., 1994.
Stegmaier, Harry I. Jr. Allegany County: A History. Parsons, West Virginia: McClain Printing Company, 1976.
Stover, John F. History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1987.
Thomas, James W and T. J. C. Williams. History of Allegany County, Maryland. Baltimore, Maryland: Regional Publishing Company, 1969.
Ware, Donna M. Green Glades & Sooty Gob Piles: The Maryland Coal Region's Industrial and Architectural Past: A Preservation Guide to the Survey and Management of Historic Resources. Annapolis, Maryland: Maryland Historical Trust, Division of Historical and Cultural Programs, 1991.Children's Literature
Reeder, Carolyn. Captain Kate. New York: Avon Books, 1999.
Winslow, Barbara. Samantha Goes to Georgetown on the C & O Canal. Richmond, Virginia: Westover Publishing Company, 1973.
County Visitor's Bureau
C&O Canal National Historical
Place Heritage Area
Heritage Preservation and Toursim Areas
Railway Historical Society, Western Maryland Chapter
Trust for Historic Preservation
National Park Service Office
National Scenic Byways Program
All Aboard For Cumberland, was produced by the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Department of the Interior, in cooperation with the City of Cumberland, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), and the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NACP). It was created under the direction of Carol D. Shull, Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, Patrick Andrus, Heritage Tourism Director, and Beth L. Savage, Publications Director. All Aboard For Cumberland is based on information in the files of the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmark collections. These materials are kept at 800 N. Capitol Street, NW, in Washington, open from 8:00am to 12:00pm and from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.
Kathy McKenney, Historic Planner/Preservation Coordinator, Department of Community Development for the City of Cumberland conceptualized the project, took photographs and compiled written materials for the itinerary. Text for the travel itinerary was written and edited by Kathy McKenney, Nathan Poe and Shannon Bell (NCSHPO), and excerpted with permission from the sources noted. Nathan Poe (NCSHPO) created the design for the travel itinerary. Nathan Poe and Shannon Bell coordinated project production for the National Register. Special recognition is also due for contributions to the project from the Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority and the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park.
Thank you to all of the individuals, organizations and institutions
who worked so diligently on this project.