Anyone who hears Gettysburg’s name knows just how historically important and unbelievably haunted the city is. Most of us know the significance of the Gettysburg Battlefield and the Jennie Wade House, but did you know that Gettysburg is home to Pennsylvania’s oldest hotel?
Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg Hotel was constructed back in 1797 in the very center of haunted Lincoln Square and just a few blocks away from the infamously active Gettysburg Battlefield. It’s well known that the monumental battle of Gettysburg took place all over the city and wasn’t just designated to the battlefields. Due to the large number of injuries and casualties, the battle caused, any occupiable building was free game for the military to use as a meeting spot or field hospital, where people with little to no medical experience were expected to tend to the injured, and anyone with a still-beating heart was considered medical staff.
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History of the Gettysburg Hotel
The Gettysburg Hotel started its life as a tavern on what is now Lincoln Square. A building of many names and purposes, it was built in 1797 by James Scott and was named ‘Scott’s Tavern.’ In 1809, it was purchased by William McClellan, a former New York County sheriff. He renamed the tavern ‘The Indian Queen.’ After 1846, the tavern was known by locals as the ‘McClellan House’ after its owners, the McClellan brothers.
During the summer of 1863, the war was heating up alongside the weather when one of the most pivotal moments struck Gettysburg. The hotel bore witness to much bloodshed and tragedy just a few blocks from its front doors. Abraham Lincoln is even said to have finished the Gettysburg Address directly across the street at the famed Wills House.
In the 1890s, the hotel underwent a renovation thanks to its new owner. It was renamed the Gettysburg Hotel, which stuck through most of the 20th century. The hotel was ahead of the times, offering guests electric lights, hot and cold water, heat, and even a restaurant in the building.
In 1955 it yet again became a type of hospital when President Eisenhower recovered there after suffering a heart attack while he visited Gettysburg. Eisenhower and his wife were the last guests in 1964 before the hotel closed its doors. In 1983, the abandoned building was ravaged by a fire which damaged much of the interior. It sat alone even longer after that, but in 1991 it was rebuilt and reopened.
These days, it offers over 119 rooms to choose from alongside all of the modern conveniences you’d expect from a hotel of its stature — but with a historic twist. The hotel is on the Historic Hotels of America list and will be protected from here on out.
Gettysburg Hotel’s Permanent Guests
The Gettysburg Hotel sits mere steps away from the massive graveyard that is the Gettysburg Battlefield. During the heat of the battle, injured soldiers were brought to the building that is now the Gettysburg Hotel to be treated. Doctors and nurses cared for thousands of injured and dying men at the hotel, many of them succumbing to their wounds within the hotel walls.
Hotel staff and guests alike report strange happenings in the hotel, including apparitions, disembodied voices, even a specific entity named Rachel, who is believed to be a Civil War nurse who cared for patients at the hotel.
Guests report seeing a slim woman walking the halls of the hotel, seemingly in search of something or someone. She’s known to rummage through guest belongings. Rachel’s spirit has even been seen wandering the streets outside of the hotel, possibly looking for soldiers to tend to!
Two other ghosts are reported regularly at the hotel, an unknown soldier and his lady. They’re seen most often dancing in the hotel ballroom. While both of their identities are unknown, many visitors wonder who these lovebirds could be.
Perhaps a stay at the Gettysburg Hotel would answer this question, but don’t be surprised if you find your clothing and personal belongings strewn about the room because of Rachel!
The Gettysburg Hotel is close to some of Gettysburg’s most infamously haunted hotspots including Sach’s Covered Bridge, the site of one of Gettysburg’s nastiest haunts — this bridge is said to be the location where three Confederate soldiers were hanged for attempting to flee the battle.
A few blocks away lies the Jennie Wade House, which was the home of a 20-year-old seamstress. She came to the house, which was her sister’s, during the peak of the battle to escape the dangers which surrounded her own home. It was in vain, however, as she was killed by a stray bullet while making bread for nearby soldiers.
The Gettysburg Battlefield is also just steps away from the Gettysburg Hotel. Believed to be one of Pennsylvania’s most haunted locations, the battlefield is hallowed ground, drenched in blood.
All across the battlefield come reports of malfunctioning electronics, apparitions, strange noises, drum beats, and disembodied voices.
Aside from all of the tragic deaths and negative energies, the Gettysburg Hotel is truly a wonderful place to lie your head after exploring the city of Gettysburg all day. Guests state that they do enjoy their stays, and some even leave with ghostly tales and souvenirs to bring home to their loved ones. Have you or anyone you know stayed at the Gettysburg Hotel?
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