The Old Cumberland County Courthouse, located in downtown Carlisle, was built in 1846 and is a brick structure with an impressive bell-and-clock tower and sandstone columns. Currently still in use, the Courthouse is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm and houses several county offices. Individuals can stop by to view the old courtroom if the room is not reserved for a private tour or event. Contact the Court Administrators office at 717-240-6200 to check the schedule. Groups interested in a private tour, should call the Cumberland County Historical Society at 717-249-7610.
Civil War History:
On July 1, 1863, the Confederate Army, under the command of General J.E.B. Stuart, demanded that the Union surrender and General William Smith replied, "shell and be damned." The Confederates then shelled the town and one of the columns at the courthouse bears the mark of the artillery barrage. Following the attack, General Robert E. Lee ordered the Confederate unit to the Battle of Gettysburg.
The courthouse was also critical for the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania. One runaway slave case at the courthouse resulted in the largest fine assessed from a federal fugitive slave system. Another case fueled a riot in 1847 that resulted in the death of a southern slave-holder, the first death of a slave-holder North of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Historic Marker: A marker for Cumberland County reads "Formed January 27, 1750 from Lancaster County. Named for Cumberland County in England, it originally extended to Pennsylvania's western limits. Carlisle, county seat, was founded in 1751. Crossed by major roads, county had a key role in westward migration."