Photo credit: Orlando Ridout V , 07/1976

Property Name: John Brown's Headquarters
Date Listed: 11/7/1973
Inventory No.: WA-III-030
Location: Chestnut Grove Road, Sharpsburg, Washington County

Description: The Kennedy Farm, or John Brown's Headquarters, is a simple rectangular 2 1/2 story country farmhouse--a composite of brick, log, and stone construction--with a double-tiered porch under an overhanging roof. On the principal facade, the first story is of uncoursed rubble stone and the second of common bond brick. Most windows are 6/6 sash with plain trim. The house is 4 bays wide on the southeast facade and 2 bays deep, although the gable ends have only a single window on each floor including the attic. The northeast gable end has no second-floor window, and that on the third floor holds only four lights in the lower sash, and the top three lights of the upper sash are covered over. The principal entrance is in the second bay from the southwest end of the southeast facade. The gable roof, through which there is a small interior chimney about 1/3 the way from the southwest gable end, is covered with sheet metal. An outside stairway runs flush against the southeast side from the lower to the upper tier of the porch. This porch now has square columns and straight rails, although a 19th century photograph shows a balustrade. A former rear porch appears to have been removed. A 19th century photograph shows the rear facade of the building in a combination of construction materials, with 2/3 of this facade being constructed of logs. The building appears substantially as it did at the time of Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry.

Significance: The Kennedy Farmhouse was the headquarters where John Brown and his band planned and began their daring and inflammatory raid on Harpers Ferry in October 1859. The Kennedy Farmhouse is the structure most closely associated with the raid, beside the enginehouse at Harpers Ferry where Brown staged his final defense. The raid, called by Samuel Eliot Morrison one of the two "startling portents of the 'irrepressible conflict,'" intensified Southern fears of slave rebellion and Southern suspicion of northern intentions. The effect was a major polarization of the sections intensifying the inevitability of conflict.




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