The Mayor and City Council of Cumberland is marking the Centennial of the relocation of George Washington’s Headquarters to Riverside Park and its donation by Dr. James Walter Thomas to the Mayor and City Council in 1921.
The cabin headquarters was located along Washington Street at Prospect Square for 89 years after it was built as part of Fort Cumberland in 1755. In 1844, local Judge Thomas Perry bought the plot of land that included the cabin to build his home, which is now the Gilchrist Museum. Judge Perry had the cabin disassembled and moved about a mile away, where it was reassembled on the farm of then Allegany County Sheriff George Blocker. It remained in that place for another 77 years, until local attorney, Dr. Thomas, purchased the structure in the spirit of historic preservation. The Mayor and City Council of Cumberland requested that he donate the structure to the City of Cumberland and place it in Riverside Park, located near its original home at Fort Cumberland, which Dr. Thomas willingly did. It is notable that the Mayor and City Council in 1921 chose Riverside Park as the cabin’s new home because in 1896, a group of local prominent citizens donated this large tract of land to the Mayor and City Council of the City with very specific provisions attached to the deed—namely, that the property was to be “for the use and purpose of a public park, or pleasure ground, for the people of Cumberland and all persons visiting said city...” The cabin headquarters was restored in that place under the auspices of contractor William J. Morley, who had previously restored a like structure at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
On April 21, 1921, Cumberland’s Mayor, Thomas Koon, presided over an elaborate dedication ceremony and preceding parade celebrating the return of the cabin. The ceremony featured key-note speaker General John J. “Blackjack” Pershing; Major C. E. D. Bridges, representative of the British Ambassador; Honorable Albert C. Ritchie, Governor of Maryland; and Major George C. Marshall, Jr. (who, at the end of World War II, as General George Marshall, designed the Marshall Plan); among others. General Pershing’s speech confirmed the momentous occasion stating, ‘This is an occasion to renew the pledges we owe our government. We should see to it that the heritage given to us should be handed down intact to posterity. We thus do honor to the man whom we have gathered to honor.”
Cumberland-based Cresap Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) have been stewards of the cabin headquarters for 86 years since being authorized by a Resolution of the Mayor and City Council on September 12, 1935. Members of Cresap Chapter DAR provides tours annually during Heritage Days, as well as by appointment. Anyone wanting to schedule an appointment at George Washington’s Headquarters will be referred to the current Cresap Chapter DAR docent-in-charge if they call any of the following entities: City of Cumberland (301-722-2000), Cumberland Parks and Recreation Department (301-759-6635), Allegany County Tourism (301-777-5134), C & O Canal Visitor Center in Cumberland (301-722-8226), or Western Maryland Scenic Railroad (301-876-2887).
For questions regarding the Centennial or this press release, please contact Terri Hast with the City of Cumberland at 301-759-6517 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.