The Alexander Dobbin House in Gettysburg: A Short History - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 49.361 W 077° 13.961
18S E 308918 N 4410461
Quick Description: The Dobbin House is a tavern, restaurant, museum, tourist attraction, Underground Railroad stop, haunted & 100% fun! The best way to put the Civil War into context is to visit this authentic Civil War site using this book as the perfect companion.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 4/18/2013 1:47:00 PM
Waymark Code: WMGX0R
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member Bryan
Views: 2

Long Description:

This site is one of the best spots to visit. The entire staff was dressed in period garb, looking like a bunch of Civil War folk. From the pictures I found on the net, the historic NRHP house appears virtually the same as it did over 200 years ago. This is the oldest building in Gettysburg. Its native stone walls, seven fireplaces, and hand carved woodwork all look recently restored and is beautiful, full of simple character which allows it to function as an authentic colonial tavern.

This important Civil War site also served as an Underground Railroad stop. In the mid-1800's, a secret crawl space served as a safe haven for runaway slaves on their perilous journey to freedom. There is a hidden room upstairs with slave mannequins to let visitors see what it looked like when the slaves were hiding. Of all the things I saw, slave hideaway was the most important part of this house. The slaves who stopped at the Dobbin house, on their way to freedom in Canada, generally hid in small, secret hiding places that were located under the floor and in the walls. It was weird and somewhat surreal to see these hiding places. The building may have been a first stop on the Underground Railroad north of the Mason-Dixon Line, although this has not been substantiated. The house was featured in an edition of National Geographic as part of an expose on the Underground Railroad.

There is also an indoor spring house which is still being used. There are three springs under the house. The spring house is located at the restaurant. The restaurant was really a nice, like a five star affair and definitely out of my price range. The modern-day Dobbin House serves guests in two separate dining facilities. Downstairs, the Springhouse Tavern serves the more casual guests in an authentic old tavern atmosphere.

During the Battle of Gettysburg the Dobbin House served as a hospital for wounded soldiers of both the North and the South. After the battle of Gettysburg ceased, and the armies had departed, it served as a hospital for wounded soldiers of both the North and the South. Almost a hundred years later, In the fifties and sixties the Dobbin House was home to a large Civil War diorama and a gift center catering to battlefield tourists. Today, it still attracts visitor, but not the wounded kind.

The ghost of Alexander Dobbin, who founded the Inn, is still seen around the house smoking a cigar. People believe that the slaves who came to this house never really left. Apparitions of slaves have been spotted through out the house, even in the hiding places. It is believed that the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg haunt the Inn. Guests and employees of the Inn have spotted mysterious, reoccurring blood stains on the floor boards. SOURCE

A physical description can be found form the NRHP nomination form from 1973:
The Dobbin House was built in 1776 by the Rev. Alexander Dobbin on a 300 acre tract purchased two years earlier. It is a 2 1/2 story stone gable roof structure, seven bays across and two rooms deep with a medium pitched roof. It contains two brick chimneys, one at each end of the original structure.

The original section of the Dobbin House was five bays across with a six panel door occupying the middle bay. Above the door is a five pane light. Windows of this section were six over nine double hung sash on the first floor and six over six on the second story. Six panel shutters with flat panels were used on the ground floor windows. A box cornice runs the entire length of the house.

On the southern end of the original building was a 1 1/2 story kitchen-spring house. It was built with the house but later possibly about 1810 this section was raised to a height of 2 1/2 stories and placed under the continuous gable roof of the original section. This section is constructed of stone and has a recessed balcony on the second story front. The Dobbin House contains eleven rooms and one small room accessible by a sliding cupboard. It also contains the original doors, chair rail and banisters. Modifications have been made with regard to rest rooms being added, a fire escape, and the usual utility renovations. SOURCE

ISBN Number: 0983721300

Author(s): Dr. Walter L. Powell

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