A Walking Tour of Shepherdstown

The walking tour is self-guided. You may follow the numbers or just pick randomly from the guide. Some things to look for as you walk the tour:

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A Brief History of Shepherdstown


Colonial settlers began their migration into the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley in the early 1700s. Many crossed the Potomac River at Pack Horse Ford, about one mile downriver from the modern site of Shepherdstown. There, Native American tribes once clashed at what was then part of the Warrior Path. Later it was known as the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, a major north-south connector of colonial and early America.

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1. Entler Hotel and Historic Shepherdstown Museum

NW corner of German and Princess Sts. In 1786 Philip Adam Entler, Jr. built a residence on the west side of the property. In following years, others built substantial brick buildings on the lot extending eastward from Entler’s residence to Princess Street. By 1809 Daniel Bedinger owned all of the property that became the Entler Hotel and leased it to others. For more than a century the Entler thrived. In 1912, the Entler residence on the west side of the property burned. During the 20th century the Entler briefly took the name Rumsey Hotel and then became Rumsey Hall, a college dormitory. It housed students, World War II Navy and Air Force cadets, and college faculty. When the building appeared scheduled for demolition in the early 1970s, townspeople organized to save and restore it. Today the Entler helps tell the story of Shepherdstown as the Historic Shepherdstown Museum. The Museum is housed in the west side of the building and is open weekends from April through October. The first floor is used by the community for meetings, art exhibits, parties, and receptions.

2. Rumsey Steamboat Museum

on the Entler grounds. Houses a half-size working replica of Rumsey’s steamboat and an exhibit reviewing James Rumsey’s life and work.

3. Mecklenburg Inn

128 E German St. Might be the only building on the south side of this block surviving from early Shepherdstown that has not been significantly changed or replaced. From c. late 1790s to the mid 1850s, it was a stately residence where John F. Hamtramck, one of the town’s military heroes, lived for a time. Later it became a business address and in recent times has become a part of the Shepherdstown tradition of inns and taverns.

4. Pendleton Property

109-111 E German Street St. Built in early 1800s and spared from the 1912 fire which burned adjacent buildings to the east on East German, including part of the Entler property. Charles Harper started an apothecary shop here in 1816. After the Civil War, B.S. Pendleton, a Confederate veteran, bought the property and opened his green grocer store. In the early 20th century, Pendleton was still selling Confederate Generals Lee, Jackson, and Stuart lead pencils, and “Blind John” Lamb operated his roasted peanut stand just off the sidewalk. Across the alley to the right, a brick wall from 1798 survives in a structure built in 1913, after the big fire.

5. McMurran Hall

NE corner of German and King Sts. This imposing Greek Revival structure was erected in 1859 by Rezin Davis Shepherd, who intended it to be a town hall. A major benefactor of the town, Shepherd grew wealthy as a businessman in New Orleans after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. At the time of his death in 1865 he was said to be one of the major property owners of New Orleans though he also maintained a residence in Shepherdstown. The clock in the tower, donated to the town by Shepherd in 1842 and originally housed in the old Episcopal Church, was moved to the town hall tower in 1860. Though neglected during some periods, the clock has been maintained in recent decades and still strikes the hour. After the Civil War, the building served briefly as the county courthouse, and the wings were added. When the county seat returned to Charles Town in 1871, the Shepherd heirs deeded the property to a board of trustees for the town. In 1872, the trustees in turn leased it to the state, and the town hall became the first building of what is today Shepherd University. In 1927 it was named in memory of Joseph McMurran, Shepherd’s first principal.

Construction of the “College Wall” along two sides of the lot began in 1859, but the wall, of hand cut stones, remained incomplete until after the Civil War. Generations of the town’s youth have congregated at the wall to observe the passing scene, ignoring an 1896 town ordinance imposing a dollar fine for loafing on or near the wall.

6. Reynolds Hall

109 N King St, attached to McMurran. Was built through the fund-raising efforts of townspeople. Katherine Reynolds, wife of the town’s long time doctor, John Reynolds, led the campaign. Completed in 1889, the building contained an auditorium and a stage. In 1912, the town placed the building at the disposal of the growing college, and in 1929, it was named in Mrs. Reynolds’ honor. Still used by Shepherd University, it also remains available for town meetings and entertainment.

7. Town Hall

104 N King St. A modern brick structure, replaced an older, smaller building in 2011. Note the Bee Line March display outside.

8. St. Peter's Lutheran Church

SW corner of King and High Sts. Dedicated in 1908, this structure became the second church for the Lutheran congregation. The church bell, dating from 1879, was brought from the first church and installed in the tower. An escutcheon made by local locksmith Michael Rickard in 1795 also was transferred from the old building and placed on the tower door, where it remains today.