Harpers Ferry Historic District

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Harpers Ferry Historic District
Harpers Ferry High Street.jpg
Harpers Ferry Historic District is located in West Virginia
Harpers Ferry Historic District
Location Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Coordinates 39°19′35″N 77°44′29″W / 39.32639°N 77.74139°W / 39.32639; -77.74139Coordinates: 39°19′35″N 77°44′29″W / 39.32639°N 77.74139°W / 39.32639; -77.74139
Built 1800
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Late Victorian
NRHP Reference # 79002584
Added to NRHP October 15, 1979[1]

The Harpers Ferry Historic District comprises about one hundred historic structures in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The historic district includes the portions of the central town not included in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, including large numbers of early 19th-century houses built by the United States Government for the Harpers Ferry Armory. Significant buildings and sites include the site of the Armory, the U.S Armory Potomac Canal, the Harpers Ferry Train Station, and Shenandoah Street, Potomac Street, and High or Washington Street. The National Historic Park essentially comprises the lower, flood-prone areas of the town, while the Historic District comprises the upper town.

Houses in Harpers Ferry

In the late 19th century a number of Victorian and Federalist-style houses were built on the high ground and received guests who included Mark Twain, Alexander Graham Bell and Woodrow Wilson. "Stonewall" Jackson also made the town his base of command during part of the Civil War and Thomas Jefferson said of the ferry area that: "The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature."

The historic district preserves what is essentially an intact 19th-century town that occupied a pivotal role in the American Civil War, and later as a transportation center. Thousands of tourists visit the town every year, however, parking in town is scarce. In order to better manage traffic in the small streets and enhance the feel of this historic town visitors are asked to park at the nearby Visitors Center and take the Park Service bus into the town itself. Taking the bus not only also gives visitors a view of the traditional infrastructure that made Harpers Ferry so important prior to the 20th century.

A commuter train line stops in town at a historic train station and conveniently stops at Brunswick, Point of Rocks, Dickerson, Barnesville, Boyds, Germantown, Metropolitan Grove, Gaithersburg, Washington Grove, Rockville, Garrett Park, Kensington, Silver Spring, and Union Station in D.C.[2]

Due to repetitive flooding in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the town entered a decline that resulted in the inadvertent preservation of much of the original town fabric. Two National Register properties adjoin the Harpers Ferry Historic District—the B & O Railroad Potomac River Crossing and St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Harpers Ferry Planning Commission (November 1, 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Harpers Ferry Historic District" (pdf). National Park Service. 

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