Home rich in history are stops on Heritage Christmas Home Tour

December 13, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Two private homes in the Greencastle-Antrim area played a part in American history, and on Sunday they were decorated for Christmas and open to the public.

Michael Lushbaugh's Victorian mansion on Mason Dixon Road was once used as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and a president and his wife stayed overnight in 1929 in the home Barry and Carolyn Shoemaker now own.

The homes were part of the 2004 Heritage Christmas Home Tour, the fifth year the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce has coordinated the event. The tour is part of the community's annual Heritage Christmas celebration.


Built in 1860, Lushbaugh's house had a large vat in the attic used for a gravity-flow water system, he said, and escaped slaves took refuge in it on their way to freedom.

"There are drainage tunnels along the railroad tracks (beside the house)," he said. "They may have been hidden in there, also."

Five thousand Confederate soldiers camped in the nearby woods during their retreat from the Battle of Gettysburg (Pa.).

June Myers of Greencastle said she loved seeing the Lushbaugh home.

"There's so much history in that house. I never liked history and geography in school. Now I wished I'd listened more," she said.

The elegant home with 10-foot ceilings showcases Lushbaugh's extensive clock collection. The oldest is a Wag on the Wall clock made around 1790 or 1800, he said.

The decor is "Victorian done right," as one visitor said. The house boasts a fountain out front, a magnificent porch light, ceiling medallions, four pump organs and two player pianos. Every horizontal surface is covered with figurines and knickknacks, artfully arranged as not to appear cluttered.

Some of the furnishings are family pieces, and others were acquired at auctions and antiques stores, Lushbaugh said.

The Verizon central office technician said the home had been cut into apartments, and when he bought it in 1997, he took two years to restore it to its original design before moving in. The modernized kitchen was taken "back to old time," he said, with the installation of a 1926 refrigerator and vintage gas stove.

On South Allison Street, the last remaining building of the former Rosemont estate is now owned by the Shoemakers. The Rosemont mansion and its outbuildings once took up an entire block and was the home of Henry P. Fletcher, a Greencastle native who was a diplomat and statesman under eight presidents in the first half of the 20th century. The house was at various times called the cottage, gatehouse or guest house, Barry Shoemaker said.

In 1929, President Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou, were overnight guests of the Fletchers, and slept in the guest house, Barry Shoemaker said.

"Hoover's wife was upset that they were not put up in the mansion, and they left the next day," he said.

The Shoemakers did much of the remodeling themselves. The house showcases several Christmas trees and a collection of more than 80 Santas, including several firefighter Santas.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Greencastle featured holiday music and refreshments throughout the afternoon.

Other stops on the tour were the Rev. Stacy and Lisa Crawford's country-style home on West Walter Avenue, Arlin and Mary Lou Martin's modern two-story stone cape on Celestial Terrace, and the former Antrim Grove school, now the home of Dr. Jeff and Pam Ott on Grindstone Hill Road.

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