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Adams County Pa. Related Historical Articles

The History of the Old
 Home Sweet Home Motel Property

Elwood W. Christ

In 2003 the National Park Service demolished the Home Sweet Home Motel at the southern end of Gettysburg's Steinwehr Avenue strip.

The earliest claimant to the land was a John Potts who was listed as an adjoining property owner in the Rev. Alexander Dobbin's Penn-agent deed dated 1793. Potts retained title to his 156 acres until about 1793, when Cumberland township tax assessors implied he sold it to Stephen Weible. According to the U. S. Direct (or "Glass") Tax of 1798, Weible's property was improved with a two-story log house measuring 26' x 27' and a log barn, 22' x 25'. We suspect that the site of these structures was the location of the Bliss Farm buildings.

During the next 118 years, the motel site parcel change hands ten times: 1804 to James Scott; 1807 to John Murphy; 1808 to Robert Hayes; 1813 to Ralph Lashalls; 1822 to Samuel S. Forney; 1838 sheriff's sale to Joseph Miller; 1851 to James Pierce; 1878 to Beniah Cassatt; and 1882 to Frederick G. Pfeffer.

On April 1, 1911, the widow Mary A. Pfeffer sold a four-acre tract that included motel's future site to William H. Johns, who later laid out lots along the Emmitsburg Road. On September 1, 1927, Johns and his wife Sarah R, sold a 60' x 170' parcel to Earl J. and Margaret L. Waybright for $700, and within a year we suspect the Waybrights built a two-story, brick Prairie-style house.

Over the next eleven years, the Waybrights purchased additional parcels. On March 29, 1929, they bought two additional lots that adjoined their home from Johns. Their property then fronted some 220' along the Emmitsburg Road and ran back to the northwest 170' to "a proposed alley." Between 1929 and 1938, the Waybrights built several cottages about their home, which became a tourist motor hotel or camp. In U. S. Army Signal Corps aerial images taken during the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1938, the motor hotel, consisting of ten cabins can clearly be seen.

Possibly due to the success of the 75th Anniversary, the Waybrights purchased additional lots in the fall of 1938 to expand their business - one from Andrew V. Weikert and another that included the 8th Ohio Volunteer Monument. Johns sold that parcel in 1927 to a husband and wife who then sold it to the Waybrights. They were Herma and Robert H. Long, undoubtedly the family for which Long Lane was named. Johns, however, retained a lot that separated the Long parcel from the rest of the Waybright property until October 1, 1948, when he sold it to them for one dollar.

The Waybrights retained their home and motor hotel property for 47 years. Shortly after their 1948 purchase, they expanded their business, calling it the Home Sweet Home Cottages. Eventually, they added units, encasing some of the old cottages with brick, and renamed their establishment the Home Sweet Home Motel. After the death of Earl Waybright's widow, Margaret L., her executors sold the property to RMR Enterprises for $1.295 million. That corporation retained it until May 30, 2002, when the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, Inc. purchased it for $1.2 million.

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