The unremarkable white clapboard house on East King Street holds some remarkable secrets, among them the summer visit of the infamous John Brown, who planned a raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce in April will host a Civil War seminar and tour following “In the Footsteps of John Brown.”

The seminar on Brown will be presented on April 3 to 5 at the Four Points Sheraton on Lincoln-Way East. The event will include a tour of Brown’s raid sites, in Chambersburg and elsewhere, led by historians Dennis Frye and Ted Alexander.

There will be presentations on Brown’s activities in Chambersburg, where the militant abolitionist planned the raid and where those who survived the raid returned. Chambersburg is also where Brown met with Frederick Douglass to tell him of his plans.

Author and historian Brian Steel Wills will talk about Brown and his depiction in cinema. His mental state will also be a topic of discussion.

An optional tour will include Underground Railroad sites in the Chambersburg area, and a visit to a historic African-American cemetery.

The John Brown House at 225 E. King St. survived the burning of Chambersburg by Confederate soldiers in July 1864. Under renovation, it is scheduled to reopen in May.

The Brown sesquicentennial has been named a Top 100 Event for 2009 by the American Bus Association. Many special events are planned this year, including re-enactments and ranger-conducted programs. A new Web site hosted by Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau lists related events in the four-state area. Visit

“Franklin County is proud to be part of the quad-state initiative commemorating the 1859 activities of John Brown. John Brown’s northern headquarters of Franklin County will be vividly depicted in the Chambersburg Civil War seminar, as well as in the rededication of the John Brown House and events related to his meeting with Frederick Douglass,” said Janet Pollard, director of tourism for the Franklin County Visitors Bureau.

If you go

“In the Footsteps of John Brown” seminar and tour
When: April 3 to 5
Where: Four Points Sheraton, Lincoln Way East
Cost: Varies, depending on sessions attended. Price includes bus tours, seminar materials and some meals.
Information and reservations: Cindy Baker at 264-7101 or

Public Opinion Newspaper, Used by Permission

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