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Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on March 23rd.

25 Years Ago

March 23, 1995 – Thursday

“Todays Meeting: Improving Downtown”

Chambersburg – The second semiannual town meeting on downtown revitalization will start 5:30 this evening at Central Presbyterian Church on Memorial Square.

“It will be a fast-paced meeting that will increase the communication between myself, the chamber and the community,” said Paul E. Cullinane Jr., executive director of Downtown Chambersburg Inc.

The meeting will allow government, business leaders and non-profit organizations to express ideas on how to make downtown Chambersburg a better place to work, visit, live and shop.

Cullinane will host the one-hour meeting that will look at accomplishments during the last six months and plans for the future.

“I’ve had my hands in a number of different things recently,” Cullinane said. He looks forward to explaining these projects and getting community response.

Some 70 people attended September’s meeting. Cullinane said he expects 100 to 150 prople at tonight’s meeting.

50 Years Ago

March 23, 1970 – Sunday

“John Brown’s House on National Listing”

Chambersburg – The John Brown House, 225 E. King St. has been registered on the National Register of Historic Sites. This is almost entirely due to the efforts of Franklin County Heritage, Inc., a local organization interested in preserving Franklin County and Chambersburg history.

The John Brown house was to be demolished next month as part of the King Street Urban Renewal Project. Its inclusion on the National Register prohibits use of federal funds for demolition and effectively halts demolition plans. A similar situation resulted in January when the old Franklin County jail was included on the National Register.

Heritage filed the state form to recognize the Brown House on Jan. 6. Persons qualified as historians, architects and planners reviewed the application and the site was approved for recognition. On March 5 the John Brown House was registered on the National Register of Historic Sites. There are only 1,100 entries on the National Register throughout the United States. It is significant to note that of the 1,100 sites, 58 are registered in Pennsylvania. This is the second historic site registered in Franklin County. The first was the jail, which was approved January 21.

In order to substantiate John Brown’s stay in Chambersburg, it was necessary for Heritage to research local documents, history books and other evidence concerning his activities. Eight references plus courthouse records were included as documentation which attested to the presence of Brown in Chambersburg.While here he used the name of Isaac Smith, and rented a room at 225 E. King Street. This happened around the end of May, 1859. Here he lived in a transitory manner until the raid on Harpers Ferry.

Heritage has compiled a list of Brown’s places of temporary residence for six months before tht Harpers Ferry raid. Thirty-eight letters statements, diary entries beginning on April 11, 1859, reveal his movements. The first heading using Chambersburg as the return address was dated May 30, 1859. Eleven letters from July 5 through Oct 8 were written by “L Smith” (Brown) using Chambersburg as the return address.

While residing in Chambersburg, Brown was visited by Negro leader Frederick Douglass on the weekend of Aug. 19-21 1859. Heritage has collected considerable data on Brown’s other confederates who lived and assembled here in Chambersburg.

100 Years Ago

March 23, 1920 – Tuesday

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“Mercersburg Over Top In Hospital Drive By $500”

The Chambersburg Hospital campaign in the Mercersburg district has been closed, and Mercersburg has again gone over the top in good form. The amount allotted to Mercersburg was six percent of the total, or $3600. The drive closed with $4,101 to Mercersburg’s credit.

The following contributions have just been reported:

$100 Mercersburg Academy.
$20 J. A. Phillips
$10 Frank B. Smith, F. E. Myers, M. A. Gibson
$5 F. P. DeCamp, ; J. C. Decker, W. E. Shaffer, John Snyder, James Weiler, H. L. Lenherr, C. A. Brown. James Curran
$2 Jacob Light
$1 J. M. McCullough
Amount previously reported – $2908
Mercersburg’s total. $4,101

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