Downtown Frederick Walking Tour
Founded in 1745 by English and German settlers, Frederick has been at the crossroads of American history. Discover this for yourself by taking this abbreviated walking tour of our historic district. Whether you're visiting Downtown Frederick to shop, dine, or simply relax, you'll gain an understanding of the town's national contributions, local legends and cultural amenities on the tour.
The full tour is less than 2 miles, but it can easily be split into 3 parts. The route is mostly flat and is completely paved. For a map and full descriptions of each stop on the tour, refer to our visitor guide or download our printed guide.
Your tour begins as the Frederick Visitor Center, 151 South East Street and Historic Preservation Training Center
Part 1 (1 mile)
Part 2 (0.5 mile)
Part 3 (0.7 mile)
Both the Frederick Visitor Center and the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC) are housed in structures associated with the canning industry that thrived here in the late 19th and early 20th-centuries, thanks to the rich farmland of Frederick County (the Monocacy Valley Canning Company warehouse and the Jenkins Cannery, respectively). Today, HPTC trains personnel who work to preserve the nation's architectural treasures, while the Visitor Center assists many visitors who enjoy the area's historic districts and preserved towns and villages.
The historic 1907 Mountain City Mill was originally used to mill flour and later to distill whiskey. Today, this restored mill building and a modern addition house a non-profit education center that features art classes, exhibitions, special events, and a gift shop offering fine art and handcrafted items.
This mile-long creekside park - part of a flood-control project started in the 1980's - features walkways, gardens, bridges, and public art. Local artist William Cochran and his helpers transformed a plain concrete bridge on S. Carroll Street into the Community Bridge, a trompe l'oeil illusion of stone and ivy.
Among other bridges along Carroll Creek Park is a suspension bridge named for William O. Lee. During his 75 years, he served as a school administrator, mentor, historian, City of Frederick alderman, and the first chairperson of the African-American Resources - Cultural and Heritage Society.
This engaging museum tells the medical story of the Civil War and the devotion and courage of the caregivers and patients on both sides. It is housed in a building where undertakers built caskets and embalmed dead soldiers during the Civil War.
Opened in 1926 as the Tivoli Theatre to show silent movies, this movie palace was severely flood-damaged in 1976. Restored and reopened in 1978 as the Weinberg Center for the Arts - named for the family who donated it to the city - it now hosts stage performances year-round.
This is the site of John Hanson's home and statue honoring him. In 1781, when the original 13 states were governed by the Articles of Confederation, Congress elected Fredericktonian John Hanson "President of the United States in Congress Assembled." He served a one-year term.
7. Barbara Fritchie House
This replica is located where Barbara Fritchie lived most of her 96 years. She was immortalized in a popular poem written in 1863 by John Greenleaf Whittier titled The Ballad of Barbara Fritchie. The complete poem is displayed on the Civil War Trail marker by the house.
The Joseph Dill Baker Carillon stands within Baker Park's 44 acres. Erected in 1941 to honor the man who gave the land to create this park in 1927, the 70-foot-high tower holds 49 bells that ring automatically every 15 minutes.
Memorial Park is built on the former graveyard established by the Evangelical Reformed Church in 1775. In 1917, the church reinterred the graves to Mount Olivet Cemetery and donated this land for a memorial park. The WWI Memorial was dedicated in 1924 and the park later added memorials to WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War Veterans.
Calvary United Methodist Church, sometimes called "the little cathedral of Western Maryland" was built in 1929 on land donated by Joseph Dill Baker. This congregation began during a 1770 visit from Robert Strawbridge, the founder of Methodism in America. The current church building has a 90-foot bell tower that houses eight peal bells - one of only 40 in North America.
11. Ramsey House
Abraham Lincoln came to this house on October 4, 1862, while returning from his inspection of Antietam Battlefield. Here he visited Union General George Hartsuff who was recuperating from wounds received at Antietam. Lincoln spoke to the citizens gathered here and, later in the day, at the city's railroad station.
12. Tyler Spite House
In 1814, Dr. John Tyler heard that city officials wanted to extend Record Street through his property. According to legend, he did not like this proposal, so he started construction of this residence to prevent Record Street's extension and "spite" city hall.
13. City Hall
At this site in 1765, nearly seven years before the Boston Tea Party, Frederick citizens burned effigies of British officials in protest of the Stamp Act. The present building was constructed as the Frederick County Courthouse in 1862, after the previous courthouse burned in 1861.This building became Frederick's City Hall in 1985 when a new county courthouse was built nearby. Busts of Maryland's first elected Governor, Thomas Johnson and Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, and a plaque interpreting the story of Harriet and Dred Scott are displayed in the courtyard.
All Saints Parish was founded in 1742 and has had a number of noteworthy parishioners, including Francis Scott Key. This Gothic structure is the parish's third church, designed by noted architect Richard Upjohn and completed in 1855.
15. Site of Original Independent Fire Company
Established in 1818, this fire company is the oldest continuously operating volunteer fire company in Maryland. Firefighters from Independent were among the first to respond to John Brown's raid on nearby Harpers Ferry in 1859. Independent still serves the community, but from a different location.
This 1848 Greek Revival church was built when the congregation outgrew the older stone chapel across the street. The pews still display the numbered brass plates from when the church was supported with "pew rents." Civil War heroine Barbara Fritchie was an active member of this church, and General Stonewall Jackson worshipped here in 1862, prior to the Battle of Antietam.
17. Trinity Chapel
This is the site of the first German Reformed Church in Frederick. The stone tower is all that remains of the original church built in 1763. Its graceful 1807 steeple is the oldest of the "clustered spires," and it houses the town clock.
Painted in the "trompe l'oeil" style, French for "tick of the eye", "Earthbound" is one of three "Angels in the Architecture" murals by local artist William Cochran. Frederick has more than 30 pieces of public art downtown.
19. Kemp Hall
Beginning in April 1861, the Maryland Legislature met here in a special session to decide if Maryland should secede from the Union. Secession was voted down twice during the summer. In September, delegates with Southern sympathies were arrested by Federal troops prior to reaching Frederick. A quorum was not reached so no vote on secession could be taken.
20. Winchester Hall
Erected in 1843 by Connecticut educator Hiram Winchester, this stately Greek Revival structure originally housed the Frederick Female Seminary, predecessor to Hood College. Winchester Hall now houses Frederick County government offices.
Organized in 1738, the first Evangelical Lutheran Church in Frederick was built of logs in 1746. In 1762, it was replaced by a stone structure, which is now part of the present structure completed in 1854.The west tower of the church holds a bell cast in England and shipped to Frederick in 1771. The church served as a hospital during the Civil War.
Built in the 1820's, this building was used as a private residence and later an orphanage before the Historical Society purchased the property in the 1950's. Exhibits include Local Voices, National Stores: A History of Frederick County, period rooms, and changing special exhibitions.
23. Trail Mansion
Currently a funeral home, this Italianate mansion was constructed by Col. Charles Trail in 1852. The stepping stone along the street situated at the curb in front of the wrought iron gate was used by Frederick's gentlewomen when getting in and out of carriages.
In 1763, Father John Williams, S.J., built a small house across the street that became the first permanent house of worship for Catholics in Frederick County. By the mid-1800's, East Second Street was home to campus of buildings run by the Jesuits including the Novitiate, St. John's Literary Institution, Visitation Academy and this church, finished in 1836. During the Civil War, St. John's was the only church in Frederick spared from being used as a hospital because the Novitiate building and Visitation Academy had already been dedicated to the cause.
The property is one of the largest downtown with nearly four acres inside the walls. The Academy began as St. John’s Benevolent Female Free School, run by the Sisters of Charity in 1824. When these Sisters moved to Emmitsburg in 1846, a group of 11 Visitation Sisters came from Georgetown Visitation to administer the school. The Sisters purchased three acres of land adjacent to the original building to expand the school and construct an official monastery with cloistered gardens. A south wing was added in 1850 creating additional classrooms. In 1851, the Chapel and Monastery buildings were built followed by construction of the Auditorium in 1862.
Today's shops on Shab Row once housed tinkers, wheelwrights, and others who serviced stagecoaches traveling on the National Road in the 1800's. Across the street, Everedy Square's shops occupy the former Everedy Company's buildings that manufactured bottle cappers and other kitchenware for over 50 years in the mid 1900's, and won contracts for arms production during WWII.
OTHER SITES WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE...
26. All Saints Street Neighborhood
During the latter part of the 19th century, a number of African American communities were created around Frederick County. By the early 1900's, this street became the center of commerce and entertainment for Frederick County's "colored" population. Services ranging from banking and medical care to grocery stores and beauty parlors could all be found on this street. After integration, most of these businesses closed, but many of their buildings still remain. For more information, pick up the African American Heritage Sites walking tour brochure, available at the Visitor Center.
Located on the campus of the Maryland School for the Deaf, the Bjorlee Museum collection, begun in 1872, houses school-related artifacts, as well as many items of interest reflecting aspects of Frederick City's long history. The school opened its doors with 34 students in September of 1868 and was housed in two Revolutionary War-era stone barracks, which still stand adjacent to the museum.
In 1837, the Beneficial Society of Laboring Sons of Frederick was established to provide proper burials for free blacks and others. The cemetery was created in 1851. By the 1940's, land was given to the city with the intent that a memorial plaque be erected. In recent years, the memorial that was originally intended has been installed in this city park.
The first interment at Mt. Olivet Cemetery was Ann Crawford on May 28, 1854. Older graves were reinterred here from other cemeteries throughout the city. Many notable persons are interred here including: Francis Scott Key, author of the Star Spangled Banner; Barbara Fritchie, heroine of a Whittier poem; and Thomas Johnson, first elected governor of Maryland. Mt. Olivet also houses the remains of over 700 identified and unidentified Confederate soldiers who died as a result of the nearby battles of South Mountain (1862), Antietam (1862), Gettysburg (1863), and Monocacy (1864).
The Roger Brooke Taney House interprets a property owned by former Frederick attorney and fifth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The site, including the house, detached kitchen, root cellar, smokehouse and slaves quarters, interprets the life of Taney and his wife Anne Key (sister of Francis Scott Key), as well as various aspects of life in early 19th-century Frederick County.
Built in the 1750's, Schifferstadt Architectural Museum is the oldest building in the city of Frederick, Maryland and among the best examples of early German-Colonial architecture in the country. The large sandstone house was built by Joseph Bruner, an immigrant from Germany. Bruner named his farm Schifferstadt after his hometown of Scheverstadt in the Palatinate region of South Eastern Germany.