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The Civic Club of Shippensburg and the Court House

The Civic Club of Shippensburg dates back to 1911 when a group of ladies were interested in forming a women's club to work for the betterment of their town. The main focus of their first meeting was to find and maintain a district nurse. After six years of planning and hard work, Miss Grace Kyle was hired in 1917. Her job continues today with a Community Nurse program that serves our United Way area.

Throughout its history, the Club has provided many useful services. In the early years, they provided medical assistance during the flu epidemic, supported war efforts by conducting Liberty Loan Drives and rolling bandages for the Red Cross. By 1958, they awarded their first Nurse Scholarship. Up to 1986, Civic Club volunteers assisted in the Well Baby Clinics that provided free medical care for children of needy families. They continue to meet the needs of the community today through their varied school scholarships, providing affordable housing while educating their tenants how to become independent, and conducting educational tours through the historic Court House building.

The Court House was built in 1735 by Samuel Perry who shortly thereafter made arrangements for a widow, Jannett Piper, to run a tavern therein. By 1740, Widow Piper's Tavern was the hub of the growing western town named for Edward Shippen. It served as the first Court House for the newly formed Cumberland County from 1750-1751, after which a new Court House was built in Carlise to serve as the county seat. Later in 1819, the building again became a family dwelling, and remained so until 1926 when the property was put up for sale. A Mr. Freidinger, who worked at the News-Chronicle, saw the ad and visited the directors of the Beistle Company who then purchased the building on September 9th for $2,900 Up to this time, the Club met in homes, churches, the YMCA or any available space.

A few years prior to the purchase of the house by the Beistle Company, a motion was made in 1920 to set aside receipts from a November rummage sale to start a clubhouse fund. In 1927, Mr. M. L. Beistle, H. W. Geesaman, John B. Hosfeld and J. S. Omwake turned over the old Court House to the Civic Club for the purpose of preservation and maintenance.

The following March, 1927, with the appointment of Mrs. S. D. Sutliff as the first Chairwoman, two committees agreed it would be possible to use the building as a clubhouse. In July, they began to recondition the house using the rummage sale money. They soon realized that they would need a more substantial fund to restore and furnish the building.

There have been many renovations over the years. When the Civic Club took over the house, they spent $3,000 on restorations as the house had been neglected. Over the years, responsibilities have included repairs and maintenance of the stone walls and the addition of structural support to the building.

The Club was also able to purchase the adjoining lot and establish the lovely gardens to be enjoyed by members and the community. In 1974 the Court House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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