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Address: 175 E King St, Chambersburg, PA 17201-1806
Phone Number:
+1 717-264-1667
See all hours
Tue - Sat 10:00 - 16:00

The Franklin County Historical Society – Kittochtinny is a non-profit...

The Franklin County Historical Society – Kittochtinny is a non-profit organization, founded in 1898 to collect, preserve, and make available to the public materials relating to the historical development of the Cumberland Valley, its people, and, even more specifically, to Franklin County. It offers the use of its library and archives to both the serious researcher and the general public during hours of operation.

The Society is responsible for the Old Jail museum, the John Brown House, the Brown’s Mill School, the Chambersburg-Bedford Turnpike Tollhouse and the Carrick Furnace.

The jail was built in 1818 and survived the burning of Chambersburg by the Confederate Forces in 1864. This building of Georgian design is one of the oldest in Chambersburg and was placed on the State and National Register of Historical sites in 1970.

During more than 150 years of use as a prison, The Old Jail housed numerous local criminals, including “Lewis the Robber,” and Captain John Cook, one of John Brown’s men who was captured after the unsuccessful raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. The cellar contains five domed dungeons with rings in the walls and floors that were used to shackle recalcitrant prisoners. Tradition suggests that these cells were also used as a way-station on the “Underground” railway to shelter runaway slaves enroute to freedom in the north.

The Old Jail complex consists of the original building erected in 1818, an annex built in 1880 and a yard enclosed by a 20-foot high limestone wall.

Several rooms of the original jail and part of the newer cell block comprise a museum of historical artifacts from Franklin County. The visitor experiences the story of the jail through interpretation and learns of the history of crime and punishment in the Cumberland Valley.

The John Brown House (Ritner Boarding House) was where the famous abolitionist boarded during the summer of 1859 under the alias of Isaac Smith. During this time, weapons were secretly secured and plans furthered to seize the arsenal at in October 1859.

The Society was able to purchase the John Brown House from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 2002 through the generosity of Dr. W. R. McElroy and family. The John Brown House was rededicated and opened on May 2, 2009 as part of the 150th Anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. The John Brown House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

The John Brown has been restored with period furniture. One visitor remarked that if John Brown came to Chambersburg today he feel right at home at the Ritner Boarding House.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 54 reviews
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    Very good
  • 4
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If you are into history, and particularly history of the local area, this is well worth the visit. The guide was knowledgeable and the tour was very interesting. There are... read more

Reviewed 4 days ago
Lexington Park, Maryland
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54 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 54: English reviews
Lexington Park, Maryland
Level Contributor
20 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

If you are into history, and particularly history of the local area, this is well worth the visit. The guide was knowledgeable and the tour was very interesting. There are numerous exhibits. We were lucky enough to be the only ones on our tour but I think even in a group this would be worth the visit.

Thank britgal60
Folsom, Louisiana
1 review
Reviewed 1 week ago NEW

We all had a most enjoyable visit to the museum on King St. in Chambersburg. The tour of the jail was most interesting and informative and the tour guide gave us the personal experience of actually being there in bygone days, from the town's beginnings in the 18th century, through the Civil War and throughout the generational building of a... More 

Thank cmehaffey2017
Valparaiso, Indiana
Level Contributor
229 reviews
77 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 March 2017 via mobile

This is a somewhat interesting tour of an old jail but there are all kinds of diversions thrown in. You hear a small bit about a lot of unrelated subjects and you don't hear a lot about the jail. The tour is led by a well meaning but less than expert guide who is not afraid of inserting his own... More 

Thank Kent F F
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
17 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 March 2017 via mobile

The Old Jail was very interesting and the tour guides are very knowledgeable. My son is a huge history buff and loved every minute of our tour. You are able to learn a lot about the history of Chambersburg. We are not from the area, so this was quite informative about our city. We had a great time. My son... More 

Thank Jrathel
Richland, Washington
Level Contributor
14 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 February 2017

A lot of information about the area as well as stories about the jail. I found the history of it's use on the Underground Railroad particularly interesting.

Thank mscooke10
United States
Level Contributor
126 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 February 2017 via mobile

Great place to research your family history from Franklin County. The staff is great and take some time to look at the local artifacts. Leave you family history with a local volunteer for future visitors.

Thank repbrock
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 6 January 2017

The tour was fun and interesting. Our guide, Bob, was very informative and knowledgeable on the history of the jail and John Brown House plus he knew other interesting facts about the area

1 Thank cherie r
1 review
Reviewed 26 December 2016

A great history of the jail and the area - and the important abolitionist efforts of John Brown, who stayed in the house down the street! Neat to see the old jail cells and writing on the walls from inmates. Bob was a very informative guide who answered all our questions (from 9, 11 and 71 year olds) and knew... More 

Thank Irene H
Martinsburg, West Virginia
Level Contributor
18 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 6 November 2016

Our family really enjoyed our tour of the old jail and our guide Ryan was terrific. He was extremely patient and took his time answering all of our questions (even those of an excited 8 year old). My children aged 11 and 8 were completely engrossed in what they were learning and were constantly asking about everything that they saw... More 

Thank Diane M
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
1 review
Reviewed 1 November 2016

This is really a unique place, the atmosphere of an old jail and a museum. It gives one a good look and how old prisons were operated and the way that prisoners were kept in those by gone days. The huge thick doors and the steel doors of the cells and the feel of what it was like to be... More 

Thank richard h

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