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Shriver House Museum - The Civilian Experience

Address

309 Baltimore Street

Gettysburg, PA 17325

Phone

717-337-2800

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You may know what happened on the battlefield . . . but do you know what happened to the families and their homes in town? 

Travel back in time with a living historian, in period attire, to learn about the civilian experience during the Battle of Gettysburg. As you move from room to room in this meticulously restored pre-Civil War home, you’ll connect with the stories of George, Hettie, Sadie (7) and Mollie (5) Shriver. You will soon appreciate what life was like before, during and after the American Civil War.

The Shriver family is one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Gettysburg. To enter their home today is to take a step back in time. View large, beautiful rooms authentically furnished to the mid-1800s to understand what life was like at the time in south-central Pennsylvania. See every room in the house which looks much the way it did in 1863, plus the Confederate sharpshooters' nest in the attic - where modern forensics confirm eye-witness accounts of soldiers shot and killed. Their tragic story concludes in Shriver's Saloon in the cellar.

After sitting empty for nearly thirty years, the Shrivers' home was restored in 1996. Today, hundreds of items are on display which were discovered during the restoration, including live Civil War ammunition, Civil War period medical supplies and much, much more.

Due to the award-winning, meticulous restoration, the Shriver House Museum has been used as a filming site by PBS, The Discovery Channel, The Travel Channel, A&E, HGTV, BBC, CNN, The History Channel and more.

  • Built in 1860 as residence for the family and a business for George Shriver: 'Shriver's Saloon & Ten-Pin Alley'
  • Guided tours conducted by docent in period attire
  • Every room is frozen in time and furnished to its 1860s appearance - from the quilts on the beds (made in Gettysburg in the 1840s) to the apple pie on the kitchen table
  • Authentic sharpshooters nest in the attic - where at least two Confederates died
  • CSI Detectives use modern forensics to confirm massive pools of blood stains where the Confederates are known to have been shot and killed 
  • See the devastating aftermath families had to deal with when the soldiers left town
  • Live Civil War bullets and medical supplies found during the restoration
  • Used as a hospital to tend to some of the thousands of wounded
  • Numerous bullet holes scar the brick
  • 19th century period garden
  • Filming site for PBS, History Channel, A&E, Discovery Channel and many more
  • Museum shop 

Guided tours for the general public are offered every 45 minutes during operating hours. Times may vary when large groups with advance reservations are touring the Museum.


A special message from the Founder and Director:

The American Civil War, which lasted four long years, was the September 11th of the mid-nineteenth century. How many of us were glued to our televisions for days after that historic event, captivated not by the stories of the terrorists but by the stories of those who lost their lives, the firefighters, the survivors’ tales, and the heroes too numerous to count. The Shriver House shares the extraordinary story of an everyday family and how the Civil War, most specifically the Battle of Gettysburg, affected them and changed their lives forever.

Nancie W. Gudmestad

 

Five Christmases at the Shriver House - Candlelight Christmas Tours

Holiday traditions and celebrations of the 1860s.
Thanksgiving Evening, November 28 through December 21, 2019
Dates and times vary throughout the holiday season. Please refer to 'Our Hours".

The Shrivers moved into their beautiful new home just before the holidays in 1860. One of the wealthiest families in Gettysburg in the 1860s, the Shrivers’ first Christmas in their new home was full of joy and delight. Just four months later the Civil War began. Step back in time to hear how very different each of the five Christmases the Shrivers' spent in their home were affected by the stress of the Civil War. The country was in turmoil and George Shriver was fighting with Cole’s Cavalry which made it a challenge for Hettie Shriver to celebrate the holidays with their two young daughters, Sadie (7) and Mollie (5) while their father was away.

Guided tours of the pre-Civil War home of the Shriver family illustrate how Christmas was celebrated in the mid-19th century. The 4’ tall candle-laden Christmas tree sits in its place of honor on the parlor table as a fire roars in the fireplace of the handsome room decorated with holiday greenery. After stringing popcorn for the tree and hanging their stockings on the mantle, Sadie and Mollie set out clear toy candy and springerle cookies in anticipation of a visit from Santa Claus and his reindeer on that magical night. The smell of pine and popcorn fills the house bringing memories of Christmases past.

Notes:

  • Private tours for groups of ten or more are welcome at any time (day or evening) throughout the holiday season.
  • Reservations are required for candlelight tours.
  • See Events for more information.

Confederates Take the Shriver House: The Battle of Gettysburg - Civilians Caught in the Crossfire

Saturday, July 4, 2020; 5-9pm
The only reenactment to take on original battleground - in the center of town!

During the battle, Confederate sharpshooters took over the Shrivers’ home. They set up a sharpshooters nest in the attic to fire rifles on the Union troops at the base of Cemetery Hill. Furnishings from the house were used to build a barricade in the street in front of the house which was used to treat the wounded. Learn first-hand what occurred during those three days of horror that terrified the citizens of Gettysburg and how the Shrivers’ home was used during and after the fighting.

  • Hettie Shriver took her two girls, Sadie (7) and Mollie (5), and their 15-year-old neighbor, Tillie Pierce, to seek safety outside town only to find themselves deep within the battle lines - at the base of Little Round Top!
  • Sharpshooters commandeered Hettie’s abandoned house to fire muskets from the Shrivers' attic window.
  • Beautifully furnished rooms of the house left in ruins by the invading forces.
  • Wounded soldiers struggle to survive in a make-shift hospital in the summer kitchen.
  • Talk to 'civilians' of the time to learn of their experiences during the battle.
  • Enjoy a refreshment in Shriver's Saloon.
  • Younger visitors (or mature visitors, too) can have a nurse bandage their wounds - leaving a small spurt of blood seeping through the bandage.
  • Witness the only reenactment to take place inside the town of Gettysburg - in the very house where it actually happened on July 1, 2 & 3, 1863.
  • Reservations are currently being accepted by calling 717-337-2800.

Behind the Scenes Restoration Tour of the Shriver House: An Inside Look at the Restoration of An Historic Home in Gettysburg

Located just a few blocks south of Lincoln Square, the Shriver House Museum was restored in 1996. The two-story brick house was built just months before the Civil War began but 136 years later, the house had missing window panes, no electricity, no water, no heat and a serious leak in the roof. At one time nearly thirty cats lived in the abandoned house. The house was restored to be used as a backdrop to tell the stories of the civilian side of the Battle of Gettysburg.

While the house was undergoing a major restoration, many questions arose. After countless hours of arduous research, however, the story of George and Hettie Shriver who built the house just months before the Civil War began, gradually began to unfold. 

Restoring the house was a grubby, backbreaking, eight-to-ten-hour-a-day, six-day-a-week undertaking, but it was definitely a labor of love. That winter brought record breaking low temperatures, more than a hundred inches of snow and two major floods that made national news. But the rewards far outweighed the obstacles, because each day brought about new discoveries. In addition to learning more and more about the Shriver family, countless treasures were found within the house - inside walls, underneath fireplace hearths, and under floorboards. Among the artifacts discovered were six Civil War cartridges, numerous percussion caps and Civil War medical supplies which had been hidden inside the house, and much, much more! 

The Shriver House Museum has earned numerous awards including the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Historic Preservation Award. The Museum has been used as a filming site for PBS, The Discovery Channel, A&E, HGTV, CNN, BBC, The Travel Channel and The History Channel. 

For additional information on the Shriver House Museum or to make reservations for a specialty Restoration Tour, please call 717-337-2800.


NOTE:

Regardless of posted hours, reservations for groups of ten or more are welcome at any time, day or evening throughout the year. Simply call or email to make arrangements.

Tour times may vary when large groups with advance reservations are touring the Museum. Metered parking is available on the street directly in front of the Museum. 

Although much has been accomplished in bringing the Shrivers' home back to its original appearance, it remains, nonetheless, a restoration in progress. The Shriver's home has been restored privately; no funds are received from any foundations or government agencies for its preservation. Entrance fees paid by visitors to tour the Shriver House Museum and proceeds from museum shop sales help to preserve, operate and continue to improve this unique part of our heritage.

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