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  The History of 225-227 West Main Street

Harold Craig

The large brick house at 225-227 West Main Street, Emmitsburg, was built as a tavern sometime between 1794 and 1809. Later it became the residence of Joshua Motter and his descendants, who lived there for 158 years. The last of his descendants to occupy the house was the late well-known teacher, Mrs. Mary Higbee Hoke, who moved there in 1942.

Joshua Motter’s father was Lewis Motter of 103 West Main Street. Mrs. Hoke’s great-grandfather, Joshua Motter, was prominent both as a businessman and as a layman in the German Reformed Church, now the United Church of Christ. Her paternal grandfather, Joshua Motter’s son-in-law, was the Rev. Mr. Elnathan E. Higbee, a noted Reformed pastor, theologian, and educator, who was a Superintendant of Education for the State of Pennsylvania. Her father, the Rev. Mr. E. Lewis Higbee, was the much-beloved pastor of the Church of the Incarnation for many years.

According to Mrs. Hoke’s notes, the house was built by Solomon Kephart, who purchased two lots numbered originally 97 and 98, from William Emmit in October 1794.

Kephart was from York County, Pa. When Kephart died in 1808, the property was sold to Henry Fahnestock, who sold it in June 1809 to Abraham Hebbling. Hebbling sold it in August 1815 to John Obermyer, who sold it the same day to Peter Boyle. In November 1826 the tavern was tenanted by James Loughhead. In March l832 Boyle sold the tavern to Joseph Danner, as well as four acres on which stood a large brick barn and sheds. When Danner died, his executors sold the tavern, store and four acres to Joshua Motter in November 1843. According to James Helman, Joseph Danner had built the store adjoining the tavern on the east in 1838. This store, formerly Joshua Motter’s place of business, is now the house numbered 221 West Main.

In her notes on the house Mrs. Hoke commented that there are not many of our modern day houses that would be still standing, comfortable and desirable, after these many years.

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