Paula S. Reed
Hagerstown Historic District
Hagerstown, Washington County
The Hagerstown Historic District contains the downtown commercial and governmental center as well as several surrounding urban residential neighborhoods and industrial areas. The district is bounded on three sides by railroads constructed during the mid and late 19th century. It includes the original plat of Hagerstown, laid out in the 1760s, as well as areas of expansion that developed generally prior to or just after the turn of the 20th century. The district depicts Hagerstown's early history and the transformation that occurred in the last quarter of the 19th century with massive growth, urbanization, and industrialization. The character of the district is urban, with a commercial and governmental center ringed by distinct residential neighborhoods, some quite densely populated. Most buildings reflect the architectural vocabulary of the late 19th and early 20th century, although there are a significant number of older buildings depicting the city's early history.
The Hagerstown Historic District encompasses the original plat of the city established in 1762, as well as parts of several additions. It represents both the old 18th and 19th century town, as well as the transformation and development that occurred in Hagerstown during its major growth period from the 1870s through 1941. The district represents Hagerstown's role as a "Hub City" in transportation, manufacturing, and as an agricultural center in Western Maryland, as well as a county seat in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Hagerstown's location along the main route from Virginia to Pennsylvania meant that armies of both sides passed through the city during the Civil War. In September 1862, First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia commanded by General James Longstreet passed through Hagerstown only to countermarch back to South Mountain to engage the Federal Army. In June 1863 Confederate troops marched through the city both to and from Gettysburg. In July 1864, Jubal Early extorted $20,000 after threatening to burn the city. Some 2500 Confederate dead lie in Rose Hill Cemetery on South Potomac Street, most of whom died at the battle of Antietam.