So Much to See in Historic Downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Stately historic Cumberland County Courthouse of red brick and white trim, fronted by green trees amidst blue skiesStately, lively, historical, and charming – Carlisle, Pennsylvania has it all. Nestled in the stunning Cumberland Valley, Carlisle’s quaint setting is home to many happy residents and allures visitors from miles away. Whether you’re a history buff, military enthusiast, nature lover, foodie, or all of the above, Carlisle provides a plethora of sights to see and things to do. Here’s a glimpse into Carlisle’s interesting downtown where a stroll through the blocks of tree-lined streets brings history to life.

Scots-Irish immigrants settled in Carlisle in 1751, naming the town after Carlisle, England. Notable occupants and visitors include: James Smith, James Wilson, and George Washington, all signers of the Declaration of Independence; Molly Pitcher, a Revolutionary War legend; Jim Thorpe, an athletic hero who graduated from the famed Carlisle Indian Industrial School; and Tim Carlisle, one of your innkeepers, a 5th generation immigrant from Carlisle, England.

During your visit to Carlisle, plan a walking tour of downtown where you will discover a treasure trove of historical gems. For example:

  • The Duncan-Stiles House on High St. was built in 1815 by Stephen Duncan and is the most expensive single-family home ever built in Carlisle.
  • Also on E. High St. is the castle-style Old Cumberland County Prison, which operated as a prison from 1854 – 1984. The impressive building is now used for county offices.
  • At the intersection of Hanover St. and High St., you will find the historical marker for the July 1, 1863 Battle of Carlisle (part of the Civil War’s Gettysburg Campaign). Shelling damage can still be seen at the Carlisle County Courthouse situated at the same intersection.
  • Colonel Blaine House at 4 N. Hanover St. (now a private residence) was home to Colonel Ephraim Blaine, a Commissary General during the Revolutionary War. Colonel Blaine began building this house in 1794, which is now one of the best preserved 18-century homes in Carlisle. It features many historic architectural elements, including a brick watertable running below the first floor windows, stringcourses with their flat arches, and keystones above the first and second story windows. Located only 0.2 miles north of Carlisle House B&B.
  • The Old Graveyard, dated 1757, was Carlisle’s first burial ground and is the oldest surviving marker. One of the original seven public graveyards in colonial Pennsylvania, the Old Graveyard is home to 750 veterans from the Revolutionary War through the Korean War, including the drummer boy for the 1st US Calvary of the Civil War, Charles Seebold, and Molly Pitcher, known as “Sergeant Molly” after being named a non-commissioned officer by George Washington. Located on South St. just past Cemetery Ave.
  • The 1753 Carlisle Indian Conference on the Square in Carlisle is where Chiefs of the Six Nations and their allies met with Benjamin Franklin and other representatives of PA Gov. Hamilton to negotiate regulations and exchange information. The historical marker is located on Hanover St. just north of High St.
  • Revolutionary Benjamin Rush established Dickinson College on N. College St. in 1783, the first college established in the US.
  • Nearby on S. College St. is Penn State Dicksonson Law School, formerly the Dickinson School of Law, which was founded in 1834 and became the fifth oldest law school in the US and the oldest law school in Pennsylvania.
  • The LeTort Spring Run, located just blocks from downtown Carlisle, was once home to numerous mills and tanneries in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today it is one of the finest limestone trout streams in the nation drawing international acclaim.
  • For more historical information and artifacts about Carlisle, PA, be sure to visit the Cumberland County Historical Society located on Pitt St.

Complete your Carlisle getaway by staying at the historical Carlisle House Bed & Breakfast. Consisting of two adjoining homes (a Federal-style home built in 1826 and a newer home built in 1863), our charming B&B merges historic architecture with modern amenities. Our location provides the ideal place to stay as we’re located in the heart of downtown Carlisle, just steps away from fabulous restaurants, live entertainment, and a rich, centuries-old past. Book today!

Black and white photo of old castle-style prison in downtown Carlisle PA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *