Rupp House General Information

The Rupp House is the in-town presence of the Gettysburg Foundation and a very familiar place to many Friends members. Open to members and the public (free admission!), the house features interactive exhibits and activities and also stocks exclusive Friends of Gettysburg merchandise.  Interested in volunteering?  We are always looking for volunteers to serve as docents at the Rupp House.  All training is provided and period attire is welcome (but not required.)  Call us today to learn more.

Members at the Patron Level and above may also visit Barbara's Library, an exclusive area for members to relax and review the extensive collection of maps and periodicals related to Gettysburg and the Civil War. Please check the event calendar for upcoming Friends and Gettysburg Foundation events! The Rupp House is located at 451 Baltimore Street in historic downtown Gettysburg, a short walk from many hotels, restaurants and shops.

 Hours:  April - October Fridays 12-8 Saturdays 10 am - 8 pm.  Sundays 12 pm-5 pm.  Open Veteran's Day and Remembrance Day.

NEW FEATURE:  Courtyard Chats at the Rupp House every Saturday night (weather permitting) at 7 pm.  Join local historians in discussions of Civil War life and the civilian experience.   (Free)

The Rupp Family Story

In July 1863, when the battle of Gettysburg occurred, John and Caroline Rupp lived in the southern part of town, not far from the base of Cemetery Hill. The couple had six children ranging in ages from 6 months to 13 years. John operated a successful tannery near the family's home close to the intersection of Baltimore Street and the Emmitsburg Road (today's Steinwehr Avenue).

When fighting began on July 1, the Rupps went across the street to Soloman Welty's house and hid in the Welty's cellar (Mr. Welty was one of John's closest friends). The Rupps returned to their home that same night, and when the fighting resumed on July 2, the Rupps hid in their own cellar. That night, John's father arrived and took Caroline and the children to his home, about eight blocks away at the corner of York and Stratton streets (in the northwestern par of town). The journey was perilous, as all of the streets in town were occupied by soldiers—many of them sharpshooters who were firing at anything that moved or made a sound. John Rupp stayed behind and spent the next two evenings in his cellar, not emerging until major fighting ceased by the morning of July 4.

After the battle, John wrote a letter to his sister describing his experiences during the battle. In this letter, he described having Union soldiers on his front porch and Confederate soldiers on his back porch, with the warring armies firing at each other through his house. John Rupp wrote a letter to his sister on July 19, 1863, within three weeks of the end of the Battle of Gettysburg, describing the events of July 1-3.. Even though John Rupp's tannery was damaged during the battle, it continued to operate (successfully for another 60 years, long after it had passed from the Rupps' ownership). The Rupp's home, however, was extensively damaged, and John replaced the original home with the structure that stands today at 451 Baltimore Street.

While the new home was being built (in 1868), John and Caroline's 1-year-old daughter passed away. Six months later, their oldest daughter (Caroline May) fell into a pile of hot ashes and suffered extensive burns. The Rupp's misfortune continued in 1871 when, over a three-day period from August 31-September 2, John and Caroline lost two sons to "brain fever" (encephalitis). Two months later, on November 11, John Rupp died of dysentery at age 46.

For more information about the Rupp Family of Gettysburg, visit the Rupp House at 451 Baltimore Street in Gettysburg or pick up a copy of Thay Will Remember Gettysburg: The Rupp Family, House and Tannery, available at the Rupp House.

(The above information was taken from Thay Will Remember Gettysburg: The Rupp Family, House and Tannery, by Emma K. Young, copyright 2002 by the Friends of Gettysburg.)
If you can't visit the Rupp House in person, you can make a donation to the Gettysburg Foundation and the Friends of Gettysburg, or become a Friends member.

The Rupp House History

The Rupp House stands at 451 Baltimore Street in downtown Gettysburg. (The photo above was taken in 1870.) In 1863, John Rupp and his family made their home where the current house now stands (the original house was heavily damaged during the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863; the current structure was built in 1868).

On March 15, 1872, Gettysburg's Star and Sentinel newspaper described the current house as, "one of the most desirable and valuable residences in town." But the property has a long history that far outdates the house built in 1868.

It is possible to trace the property back to the mid-18th century, and one of the earliest owners was the Rev. Alexander Dobbin who, after Gettysburg became the county seat of the newly formed Adams County in 1800, sub-divided his large tract of land and sold the individual lots.

By 1840, a little more than 20 years before the Civil War, the southern part of Gettysburg near Cemetery Hill had become an industrial center that included at least two tanneries and one slaughterhouse. The Rupp House property changed hands a few times before Henry Rupp, John's father, purchased the land in 1851 (he paid $500, which was a good deal of money in the mid-19th century).
Henry eventually turned over the property to John, where he raised his family and operated his tannery. The family's home was heavily damaged during the battle, and in 1868, John decided to tear down the house and replace it with the structure that stands today. After John died in 1872, Caroline was forced to sell off most of the Rupp property, which was parceled and sold to different buyers. The Rupp House has had several owners since 1872, most recently serving as the Baltimore Street Bed and Breakfast.

In 2002, Friends of Gettysburg acquired the property and in 2003 opened the Rupp House. The Rupp House offers visitors a glimpse of what life was like for the civilians of Gettysburg, as well as the soldiers, during the battle. The Rupp House features interactive displays and hands-on exhibits.
The Rupp House serves today as the Friends of Gettysburg gathering place in downtown Gettysburg. Barbara's Library and the Finfrock Center are located at the Rupp House and open to members of the Friends at the Patron Level and above.

(The information above was taken from Thay Will Remember Gettysburg: The Rupp Family, House and Tannery, by Emma K. Young, copyright 2002, Friends of Gettysburg.)
If you can't visit the Rupp House in person, you can make a donation to the Gettysburg Foundation and the Friends of Gettysburg, or become a Friends member.