Lockwood House

Two story brick structure with double front porches
Lockwood House: Armory Paymaster's residence, Civil War hospital, Union garrison headquarters, and school for formerly enslaved men and women.

NPS/volunteer H. Mills

 

The walls of the Lockwood House enclose a perfect storm of American history. From the Federal armory and its slave-owning officers, through the conflict of the Civil War, Reconstruction and the struggle to educate African Americans in post-war America, through the dramatic events of the first decades of the 20th century, to the unanticipated effects of the 1954 Supreme Court decision to desegregate education, there are within the walls of Lockwood House many stories to tell.

 

 

US Armory and Arsenal Paymaster Residence (1848-1861)

Lockwood House was originally built in 1848 as housing for the Paymaster of the United States Armory and Arsenal.

This new nine-room house became the residence of Paymaster Edward Lucas and his family by December 1848. The Lucas household included five children, although an infant died before 1850. In addition to the Lucas family, the house accommodated one enslaved woman and two enslaved children. Mrs. Lucas died on September 1, 1849. Edward Lucas remained in the house until he died in 1858. That year, an entire story was added to the house, constructed more modestly than the first.

 
Engraving of two-story house with pillared double porches
Lockwood House, circa 1864.

NPS photo

Civil War (1861-1865)

During the Civil War, Union and Confederate troops alternately occupied the house. The elaborate two-story porch became an ideal site for a base hospital during the summer of 1862. Labeled the "Clayton Hospital," the large rooms, high ceilings, and airy porch offered a healthy environment for soldiers suffering from camp diseases like dysentery, diarrhea, and various fevers. Wounded Union soldiers were also treated here during the Battle of Harpers Ferry in September 1862.

For three months during 1863, Brigadier General Henry H. Lockwood, the Union garrison commander, used the property as his headquarters. Afterward, prisoners, injured soldiers, and Union General Phillip Sheridan used the house as jail, hospital, headquarters, and medical supply storage until the end of the war.

The Civil War caused substantial impact on Lockwood House. Military use of the house resulted in graffiti on most walls and on woodwork, removal of mantelpieces and near destruction of the staircase. Contemporary accounts noted that many if not most windows were gone, and shells pierced the roof. In addition, the medical purveyor's office ordered the installation of shelving in the largest first floor room. Much of the damage seems to have been left unrepaired and awaited the Freedman's Bureau missionary teachers in the fall of 1865.

Reconstruction and the Establishment of Storer College (1865-1883)

By the fall of 1865, Lockwood House operated as a mission school and living quarters for formerly enslaved men and women run by Reverend Nathan Brackett, a Freewill Baptist minister working with the American Missionary Association and the Freedmen’s Bureau. In 1867, the property began operations as part of the Storer College Normal School, one of the first institutions of higher learning for African Americans in the United States.'

Lockwood House provided classrooms, meeting space, and dwelling quarters for Freewill Baptist teachers, then served as classrooms and dormitory for Storer College. In addition to the school-related function, there were several Black families living in the basement for part of the time. Accounts written at the time indicate that the building was in poor condition, and it appears that little money was spent to upgrade the building beyond the most necessary repairs and painting. Painted slate blackboards were added to the northeast rooms.

When Storer College was established in 1867, the role of Lockwood House began to change as school functions were relocated to the former Armory Superintendent’s Quarters. Lockwood House became a men’s, then a women’s dormitory. Although the Trustees floated plans to repair and enlarge Lockwood House to accommodate summer boarders and provide dormitory space for additional students, the house remained largely unchanged.

 
Three-story house with wraparound first-floor porch
Postcard of the Lockwood House circa 1910 showing the addition of the third and fourth stories.

NPS

Expansion and Multiple Use (1883-1960)

By the early 1880s, Lockwood House served as a boarding facility for both Black and white summer tourists, and two additional stories were constructed to increase room capacity. This provided additional income for the College.

During this period, Lockwood House went through profound changes in its appearance and use. The 1883 alteration transformed the building from neoclassical Greek Revival style to High Victorian period Second Empire style. The west double porch was removed and replaced with a one-story porch, which was later extended to wrap around the north side of the building. Two outbuildings constructed on the south side of the house served as kitchen facilities. Electric lights were installed between 1907 and 1912, and bathrooms were updated and expanded in the 1940s.

Despite this expansion, Lockwood House lacked a central role in the activities of Storer College. The building became a summer boarding house but served only occasionally as dormitory space for the school. In 1926, summer boarding ended at Lockwood House and the building was either rented out to tenants or stood vacant until the National Park Service acquired it shortly after the school closed in 1955.

 
Side profile of two-story brick house with double porches.
Lockwood House, 1970. Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), showing the buillding after the NPS restoration during the late 1960s.

HABCS WVA, 19-HARF, 14-12.

Lockwood House as Part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

In the late 1960s, the NPS restored the exterior of Lockwood House to the Civil War period, removing the 1880s additions. In the interior, the NPS rehabilitated the lower floor and restored two rooms to the circa-1867 period. The remainder of the first and second floor were left as-is.

In 2021, the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center completed a historic plaster conservation project. In early 2022, they completed additional preservation work, including reinstalling historic millwork, making floor repairs, and installing some protective surfaces that help show features that highlight the interesting construction chronology within these walls.

 
 

Last updated: December 21, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
National Park Service
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry , WV 25425

Phone:

304 535-6029

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