History—Hotels of Shippensburg
The following is a collection of excerpts and articles written by Shippensburg resident and local historian Dr. John Fague that were published in The News-Chronicle in 2003 and 2004.
"Hotels of Shippensburg, Part I"
January 16, 2004
The first hotels in Shippensburg were taverns. Although their primary function was to provide food and beverage for the weary traveler, they also provided over night accommodations. Now these accommodations were not like you will find at our Shippen Place Hotel, but after being on a frozen rutty road all day, just a warm fire place seemed mighty good. What was equally important to those early travelers was food and lodging for their weary horses. The Shippen Place no longer provides that service.
John McCurdy, writing in the Shippensburg News of January 31, 1881, reported that there were thirteen taverns here as of that date.
There were few comforts to be found in them, yet the traveler could sit down to a good substantial meal. Many of these houses contained but two or three sleeping 'apartments' for the accommodation of strangers. These rooms were occasionally filled, two persons in each bed, with persons who were entire strangers to each other.
The strangers who patronized these places of entertainment, either traveled on horseback or on foot. The horseman usually had a pair of leather saddle bags thrown across his saddle, in which he carried such articles of clothing as he needed on his journey. The footmen had knapsacks made of some strong material, which frequently contained all of the owners' worldly wealth.
The charges at these houses were usually moderate. A horseman generally paid about seventy-five cents for his supper, bed, breakfast and horse feed. The footman paid for supper, bed and breakfast from forty to fifty cents.
Beside many of these taverns stood a long shed, open at the side next to the street, and having in the rear a trough which extended along the entire length of the structure. These sheds were for the accommodation of the travelers horses, when halted at noon to feed. Each horse was given a gallon of oats, for which his owner paid twelve and a half cents. 
Widow Piper's Tavern
The first Shippensburg Tavern of note was Widow Piper's Tavern located on the southwest corner of North Queen Street and East King Street. The stone house was built in 1735 by Samuel Perry on land that was formerly part of the Edward Shippen farm.
It is referred to in town history as the Old Court House, for it served as a location for holding sessions of county court in 1749 and 1750.
Session records of Middle Spring Presbyterian Church record that in 1745 James Ward was at a public sale and observed Samuel Laird staggering from too much liquor. Ward asked David Herron to persuade Laird to go home or to go down to the Widow Piper's and take a bed.
Janet Piper's tavern license is the earliest existing Cumberland County License. She was still running the tavern in 1753 when she was indicted for keeping a tippling house. 
Sign of the Indian Queen
This tavern was at the foot of what we now call Toll Gate Hill. It was on the south side of the road, directly across from where the toll gate house would later be built. In front of the tavern hung a large sign on which the dusky figure of an Indian Queen was painted.
The first tavern keeper of record was Francis Campble in the year 1758. Agnes (Nancy) Piper was the licensed tavern keeper there between 1818 and 1827.
Rev. Thomas Barton recorded in his journal that on Friday 20 July 1758 he lodged at the Sign of the Indian Queen, kept by Mr. Campble, where we met with good entertainment. 
This house has since been demolished.
Sign of the Spread Eagle
This two story stone house is located at 427 East King Street, just east of the new M&T Bank building. It was built in 1735 by Samuel Perry. Robert Porter was the tavern keeper there between 1789 and 1824. Stephen Cochran operated a tavern there between 1825 and 1842.
Many of the original features remain in the interior of this house. A reliable source, whose family once lived in this house, told me that there is a wine room in the basement with wicker baskets on shelves for storing wine bottles. The baskets are empty now.
Sign of the General Washington
This two story stone house is standing at 332 East King Street. It was the third stone house built by Samuel Perry in 1735, all of which are still standing. Tavern keepers were Edward Griffen 1820-1814, Adams Nimmon 1819-1826, and Peter Thrush 1826-1834.
This house was at one time owned by the family of the late Raymond R. Smith. It is next door to where the Raymond R. Smith furniture factory and show room were located.
The Black Bear Hotel
This two story frame building was located on the west side of North Earl Street, next to the former First National Bank. It was a brewery in 1743 and later converted to a tavern.
Peter Hartzell moved there in 1821.
It was no uncommon thing then, and down to 1837, when the Cumberland Valley Railroad was completed, to see the yard at the rear of the house, together with Main and North Earl Street, and the space in front of the house crowded with road teams at night. But the steam horse has usurped the place of the Conestoga Team, and these things that were, never to return. 
Fortescue Cuming noted in his diary on January 25th, 1810:
I stoped at Raume's, a German House about the middle of the town, and apparently the best tavern in it. I bathed my feet in cold water, and dressed the left one which was much blistered and very painful. Soon after, my wagoner Jordan, with three others in his company arrived. We all sat down together according to the custom of the country, to a plentiful and good supper. After supper the wagoners spread their mattresses and blankets around the stove in the bar room and I retired to a good bed, but without an upper sheet. 
 Our First Impression of Men by John McCurdy in the Shippensburg News of January 31, 1880.
 Deed 1-C-463 Cumberland County Historical Society
 The Taverns of Cumberland County 1750-1840 by Merri Lou Schaumann.
 Sketches of a Tour to the Western Country (Pittsburgh 1810) by Fortescue Cuming.
James McMullen, manager of the Shippen Place Hotel, for suggesting a review of Shippensburg hotels past and present.
William Burkhart – the photographs of the hotels came from his collection preserved in the library of the Shippensburg Historical Society.
Hotels of Shippensburg, Part II
January 23, 2004
The Branch House or Rippey's Tavern
This two story stone house beside the Branch Creek was built in 1738 by Hugh Rippey and operated as a tavern.
The tavern was made famous by the fact that George Washington and his company of officers stopped there for lunch on October 12th, 1794 while traveling from Carlisle to Chambersburg. He was going to western Pennsylvania to put down a rebellion by farmers who objected to paying the newly enacted tax on the whiskey they distilled from their grain.
As a result of this visit by General Washington, the tavern was at one time called the "General Washington."
Our town historian, William Burkhart, refers to this tavern as the "Black Horse Tavern."
The Branch House was listed as lot #100 in the original plan of Shippensburg in Merri Lou Shaumann's book, Cumberland Taverns 1750-1840. Lot #84 is listed as the site of The Black Horse Tavern. She thus described two separate taverns on West King Street.
She writes: The earliest mention of the Black Horse Tavern was an advertisement in the Carlisle Gazette dated 15 February 1786. Robert Peebles and John Carson offered for rent: "The noted tavern in Shippensburg known by the sign of the Black Horse. The dwelling house and out offices are in good repair; a good well of never failing water with a pump in it, at the kitchen door."
If you are confused, so am I. Of one thing I am sure, the Black Horse Dining Room and Tavern are now located in the Shippen Place Hotel at 32 East King Street.
In 1877, the site on which the Branch House or Rippey's tavern stood was purchased by George H. Stewart, Sr. for the sum of $4,000. He demolished the old structure and erected a new, Victorian-style building in its place. This house remained in the Stewart family until it was purchased by the Shippensburg Library Association in 1957 for the use of the present-day Shippensburg Public Library." 
The Union Hotel or Sherman House
This hotel was built on the southwest corner of South Earl and West King Street in 1839 just in time to accommodate travelers on the new Cumberland Valley Railroad. This is presently the site of the Select Family Restaurant.
In addition to providing overnight lodging, there were rooms on the first floor where salesmen who came to town on the railroad could display their merchandise. Local merchants came to the hotel to inspect the goods and place their orders.
From the Valley Spirit, Chambersburg, Pa., September 16, 1848: Union Hotel, Shippensburg, Cumberland County, Pa.
The subscriber respectfully announces to his friends and the public in general that he has taken the above establishment (lately in the occupancy of J.A. Raum) situated on the corner of Main and Railroad Streets, where he is prepared to accommodate all who may give him a call in such a way as he hopes will give general satisfaction.
Boarders can be accommodated with comfortable rooms."
Joseph A. Ege
When word was received on June 24th, 1863 that the Confederate Cavalry was on its way to Shippensburg, workmen hastily painted over the name Union Hotel. The towns people did not want to antagonize the rebels.
In later years the hotel was given the name Sherman House, but no one seems to know where this name came from. Could it have been named after the famous Union General, William Tecumseh Sherman, who marched an army "from Atlanta to the sea" and then through South Carolina?
A number of businesses occupied the first floor of the hotel in 1919. Kirsens Department store was on the West King Street side of the hotel. When Kirsens moved to East King Street, Weaver and Gates Clothing store moved in.
For a number of years my barber, Pete Myers, had his barber shop on the King Street side.
"A surgeon dentist, J.P. Angle, had his offices in the Sherman House. His ad in the Jan. 4th, 1849 issue of the "Weekly News" opened thus: "May be consulted at all hours—Persons in town or country wishing operations on their teeth at home will please leave their address." 
Prior to 1866 when a passenger depot was provide at 26 South Earl Street, the east bound trains discharged their passengers at the Union Hotel.
A very elegant dining room was to be found in the Sherman Hotel. The Lions Club met and was served dinners there after the clubs founding in 1932.
Carl A. Naugle was the owner of the Sherman House when it burned in 1960. It was torn down in 1964.
The Mansion House
The Mansion House was at 42 South Earl Street where the Hub City Club is now located. This brick building was a mansion in the days when Railroad Street was a source of pride.
Mr. Harry Stumbaugh was the proprietor of this overnight inn. In the days before prohibition it served alcoholic beverages, but was always an orderly house.
The Mansion House was torn down in 1935 to make way for the Hub City Club.
 Olde Shippensburg by Matt Miller and Bill Burkhart.
 Bill Burkhart's notebooks and picture albums preserved in the library of the Shippensburg Historical Society.
Excerpts from Hotels of Shippensburg, Part III
January 30, 2004
Before 1850 another Madison House was located on the north side of King Street near Earl.
Adv. in Weekly News April 26, 1849:
Madison House — Main Street near the Railroad, Shippensburg, Pa.
The old established and well known house has recently been reopened and refurbished by the subscriber and is now ready for reception of strangers.
Drovers will also be accommodated with pasture for cattle, etc. Charges moderate. — Christian Zuck
To support Christian Zuck's application for a tavern license the citizens of the town placed this advertisement in the Weekly News of March 1, 1849:
We the subscribers, citizens of the Borough of Shippensburg, in which the above mentioned inn or tavern prayed to be licensed is proposed to be kept, do certify that Christian Zuck, the above applicant, is of good repute and honesty and temperance and is well provided with houseroom and conveniences for the lodging and accommodation of strangers and travelers and that such inn or tavern is necessary to accommodate the public and entertain strangers and travelers.
Morrison Hotel and Restaurant
I am indebted to Betty Morrison Beitler, now living in Chambersburg, for this information on the former Morrison Hotel at 15 West King Street. It was started by Betty's father, Frank Morrison and her Uncle John Morrison.
Uncle John decided that he wanted a hotel building, so he and his wife, Aunt Lula Morrison, built the hotel at 15 West King Street. It replaced Killinger Hardware Store building. The hotel opened in November 1929.
Maude Morrison was the pie baker. Mrs. Charles Hatfield, Carrie, was a terrific cook," Betty said.
Aunt Lula's mother, Robinson came here from Frederick, Md. and lived in an apartment in the hotel. She had a financial interest in the business.
Betty remembered eating many of her meals at the hotel. Betty's mother was working there and they would sit at a table in the back where the waitresses congregated.
The famous Blue Room was on the second floor. "It was beautiful," Betty said. Parties and dances were held there.
In its day, Morrison's Hotel was the place to go.
Betty's brother, Bob Morrison, worked there as a waiter while he was in high school.
The Oscar M. Hykes Post No. 223 of the American Legion bought the Morrison Hotel building in 1945.
When the American Legion built their new post home in the Shippensburg Industrial Park in 2003, their previous post home was purchased by John Knutelsky. After extensive remodeling, he plans to open it as a Pub and Eatery in May of this year. (2004)
Do You Remember?
by Dr. John Fague
Excerpts from the April 25, 2003 column.
The King's Inn
The King's Inn at 105 West King Street has had many names and owners over its 150 plus years of existence. ...
The Madison Hotel
John Wyncoop, called Col. Wyncoop, came to Shippensburg from Roxbury and purchased the property on West Main Street...
He opened it as a hotel, familiarly known as the Madison House or Hotel. ...
Jacob Hargleroad was the proprietor of the Madison House in 1878 when the town's first directory was prepared. (1) ...
The name series of the hotel was:
- Madison House – starting about 1850
- National Hotel – starting about 1880
- Smith Hotel – starting about 1900
- Fort Morris Hotel – starting in July 1923
- Rustic Inn – 1977
This was told to William Burkhart by Dr. Alexander Stewart in October 1977.
The Smith Hotel
W.L. Karper was to manage the Smith Hotel on West King Street in April 1913. He was to have a complete livery service attached. — The Shippensburg News
Fort Morris Hotel
Charles W. Thrush bought the old Hotel Smith, July 28, 1923 from the Carlisle Trust and the estate of Frank T. Smith, deceased. Shortly afterwards he completely remodeled it and changed the name to the Fort Morris Hotel. ...
Fort Morris Hotel Sold: In July 1926, G.M. Reburn of Coatesville, bought the Fort Morris Hotel from Fred Menger who had been the manager for several years. — Shippensburg News, July 1926
According to the record of deeds in Carlisle, on July 26, 1928, Charles W. Thrush and Ethel Thrush sold the property to Charles McClain. It was a large stone building known as the Fort Morris Hotel with a cement garage and a frame butcher shop. ...
Charles McClain and Edith McClain sold the hotel to Annie Stevick on September 13, 1944. ...
Max and Fern Madden purchased the hotel in 1962. In August 1972 they sold the hotel to their son Jerry and his wife Lois. ...
The Maddens sold the hotel to Panagiotis Peteinis and Nickolas Balafontis in May 1977.
The new owners completely remodeled the hotel. The old north end was removed up to the original stone structure. A large dining hall and modern lounge was then built into the north end in its place. The name was changed to the Rustic Inn. ...
The King's Inn
In January 1967 [sic] the Lakeside Holding Company of Florida assumed ownership. The name was changed once more; it now became The King's Inn.
 Bill Burkhart's Notebook available in the library of the Shippensburg Historical Society.
Excerpts from Hotels of Shippensburg, Part III (continued)
January 30, 2004
In 1953, Howard Lyons decided to open a hotel at 37 West King Street. This was the former McPherson home next door to the Pague and Fegan Hardware Store. The first floor of the house was the lobby. A room was built behind the lobby for weddings and receptions. The guest rooms were on the second floor.
Almost every evening Howard would go back to the hotel and entertain the guests with coffee and intellectual discussions, his wife Emma Lyons told me. Many of the guests were out of town salesmen who found Shippensburg's night life to be very dull.
Several people were hired to run the hotel, but this just didn't work out. After a few years, Howard decided to close the hotel and concentrate on the hardware business. THe hotel rooms were made into apartments.
The photographs [not shown here] of the Smith Hotel, The Fort Morris Hotel, and the Morrison Hotel came from Bill Burkhart's photo collection preserved in the library of the Shippensburg Historical Society.
Hotels of Shippensburg, Part IV
February 6, 2004
The University Lodge
A groundbreaking ceremony for the University Lodge at 120 Walnut Bottom Road took place Sept. 5, 1969. Standing with the owner, Edgar Rosenberry, in the picture [not shown here] are Charles R. Eurich, mayor, Charles R. Schwenk, executive secretary of the Chamber of Commerce; and Tab Hostetter, contractor.
The new lodge contained a 30-room motel, a restaurant and dining room. There were two other dining rooms for parties and group banquets plus a bar.
The facilities also housed Mr. Rosenberry's Shippen TV and Cable Co. office and service quarters.
In 1992 the motel portion of the lodge was sold to the Jay Dip Inc. of Mechanicsburg. Mr. Rosenberry retained the east end of the building which housed the dining and meeting rooms.
A fire destroyed this dining section in 2002 and it has been torn down. The motel section is not open at the present time.
The Shippen Place Hotel
In 1990 several Shippensburg businessmen were concerned about two vacant buildings at lots No. 32-42 East King Street. The one had been the Jay Dee Dept. Store and the other the Kyner Hardware Store. The latter had been for many years the location of Johhny Malamas's famous Sugar Bowl.
These two deserted buildings were a health and fire hazard to the downtown area. There had been a fire in the Jay Dee Dept. Store.
Realizing that something had to be done, these men, as part of the Downtown Association, were able to borrow money from a local bank to purchase the Jay Dee Dept. Store building. On March 5, 1993, they also purchased the Kyner Hardware Store building.
"Within the first year the Main Street Nonprofit Redevelopment Corp. was organized and this group started putting Shippen Place together." (1)
The next problem was to decide what would be done with these buildings. Real Estate Solutions and Management Associates Inc. of Harrisburg was brought in for this purpose.
Meetings were held at the Ingersoll-Rand conference room to decide what would go into this new building. The first idea was to have retail stores on the first floor. The second and third floors would be offices and residential units.
This first plan involved selling condominiums before they were built. The public did not buy that idea. That is when the idea of a hotel started to form.
The Shippen Place Inc. was formed as a private corporation to build and manage the hotel. A group of 32 individuals interested in supporting a hotel pledged between $10,000 and $30,000 each to get the planning and construction under way.
More meetings were held to decide the exact make-up of the hotel. Would there be any retail stores on the ground floor; would there be any apartments on the upper floors? It was finally agreed that the Shippen Place Hotel would be all hotel as it is today.
The old buildings were torn down in 1994 and construction was begun in 1996.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Sept. 4, 1996 for the 57-room main street hotel.
The Shippen Place Hotel opened in July, 1997 and the dedication took place Aug. 4.
(1) Tim Settlemyer, former staff writer for the Shippensburg News-Chronicle.
(2) Merri Lou Schaumann, Cumberland County Taverns 1750-1840 Pennsylvania.
An interview with Ken Shoemaker who supplied the information on the formation and progress of the Shippen Place Hotel.
Do You Remember? columns by Dr. John Fague, courtesy of The News-Chronicle, Shippensburg, Pa.
©2003, 2004. Used with permission.