Tour to immerse patrons in historic Gap

The Henderson House photo provided by the Historical Society of Salisbury Township

The Gap-in-the-Hills Historic Tour on Sept. 28 will be a celebration and representation of the historic buildings of the town of Gap. It will also be an introduction to the 1801 Kennedy Tenant House, which the Historical Society of Salisbury Township anticipates acquiring and using as a museum.

Docents will be dressed in costume to tell how they “lived” their history, from William Penn to Mary Louise Walker Roberts, a nurse in the Confederate Army.

The houses and places of business show the history of Gap since 1701. William Penn will be at the Penn Rock to tell you about his journey to Conestoga. Here, at the Penn Rock, he met with Chief Opessah and other native Americans who escorted him to Conestoga on the Susquehanna River to sign a treaty, as Penn wrote, “for himself and his heirs and successors.” Also at the Penn Rock, visitors will see the place where former slaves hid and came out up the hill to find freedom.

Our oldest documented house, the Francis Jones Tavern, can be seen from the shuttle bus, which will take folks to houses across Route 41. The Rising Sun Tavern, now owned by the Four Brothers, was built in 1794. James Kennedy, the builder, will be on hand to tell its story.

The Henderson House, known as a “colonial” building, was purchased by Thomas “Squire” Henderson, who opened a store there, in 1805. The next owner, Annie M. Rutter, sold it to Mary Louise Walker Roberts in 1884. She had served as a nurse in the Confederate Army. This is a story and a house that visitors will not want to miss.

Next to the Rising Sun Tavern is Maxwell Kennedy’s house, built in 1817, which represents the beauty and spaciousness of that era. From both of these historic buildings, guests will be able to view the Kennedy Tenant House, built around 1801. All of these buildings are part of the Rising Sun Historic District.

Bellevue Presbyterian Church, founded in 1823, will be the headquarters of the tour. Visitors will park here, get tickets, view the society’s publications, tour the church, refresh themselves and proceed with the tour. Jane Maxwell, who started the Sunday school, will be here, as well as one of the founding ministers, James Latta. While here, a tour through the cemetery will emphasize the gravestones of the Kennedy family and give information in answer to questions about other burials.

Across Route 41, the Knights of Pythias Lodge built a meeting place in 1865. The Gap Town Clock, an icon of Gap known nationwide, was bought in 1872 and erected on the tower of the lodge building. The Town Clock Cheese Shoppe is located in the lower level. George H. Rutter will be at the Gap Town Clock to tell its history. At the same site, information about the Penn Spring and the Shawnee Gardens will be available. A few yards away, the Worst-Walker House, built in 1871, has its own special architectural charm and significance as home to two founding families of the town.

In 1875, Joseph Coates Walker built the red brick mill, which was the focus of industry for all of Salisbury Township. Its railroad siding, passenger station and freight station funneled goods and folks to and from Gap until 1951. The mill, now the business of LanChester Grill and Hearth, will be open. You may carefully go up the steps to the upper room for a bird’s eye view of Gap and the surrounding countryside. J.C. Walker will tell the story.

The George Sellers house, built in 1900, was designed by Emler Urban, the architect of Watt and Shand’s Department Store in Lancaster, and other famous houses. Elegance in detail shows wherever one looks at this historic home. George Sellers, who owned the main hardware store in Gap and all of Salisbury Township, will be on hand telling you about his special home and its unique architecture.

West of the mill is the William Walker Mansion, built around 1925 for William J. L. Walker, who, with his sons, Peter S. and Lee W., continued the mill business. William will be there for the occasion.

The Gap-in-the-Hills Tour is centered in the village of Gap at the junction of Route 41 and Route 30, the Lincoln Highway. Visitors may walk to Bellevue Presbyterian Cemetery, Walker Mill (LanChester Grill & Hearth, 832 Pequea Ave.), William Walker Mansion (Sam Stoltzfus, 826 Newport Rd.) and the George Sellers House (Brett Snyder, 800 Bellevue Ave.).

A shuttle bus will be available to take patrons to the five historic stops east of Route 41. There will be three shuttle bus runs: 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Patrons may also drive to Chestnut Street Chapel, park in the parking lot and walk to the three nearby tour stops, and drive to Rising Sun Tavern (Four Brothers, 5267 Lincoln Hwy.) and the Maxwell Kennedy House (Melvin Martin, 5261 Lincoln Hwy.)

Tickets cost $15; children and students through high school are free. Tickets purchased before Sept. 21 are $2 off. Call 717-442-9522 for your early ticket and/or more information. Tickets can be picked up at the Bellevue Presbyterian Church (810 Newport Ave.) on Sept. 28.

Patrons’ tickets will help kick off the society’s museum campaign and will help to fulfill its mission, to “discover, gather and preserve our history for future generations.”