House on North Seton Ave
The following is a Note received form Ed Houck in
response to a request in the Emmitsburg Dispatch for information on the
house shown above.
I was surprised to see the picture of the old
building on page 23 of the May 2000 Dispatch.
Here is the history of the building:
My father, J. E. Houck, Sr., purchased the
right side of the Annan Brothers large building
on the square in 1939 from J. Brooke Boyle. In
the early 1940ís, upon the death of Charles
Mort, he purchased the left side of the same
building that borders on Rt. 15. Here he moved
his men's wear store, "Edís Place,"
from the Knights of Columbus Building and
connected it to the womenís clothing portion
of the store, making the ground floor a complete
clothing store for the entire family.
Upon buying this portion of the building,
which also included a shed bordering on the
alley that runs next to the St. Josephís
Cemetery, he decided to fix it up to look like a
house. He had the outside covered with white
asbestos shingles and placed over the doors a
covering that was removed from the old
restaurant that went out of business and was
replaced by the menís store. On the inside was
a large room, a staircase, a small back room and
one open room upstairs. The upstairs was used to
store out-of-season stock and the first floor
was used for trash and unpacking goods. There
were never any families living in this building,
which had no plumbing or water.
When I was in my teens in the early 1940ís,
Johnny Miller, Tom Gammache and I had a train
layout that took up half of the big room on the
bottom floor. Dad also let me use the area as a
woodworking shop. The Scouts of the area at one
time built two duck boats and I had built and
sold a number of sets of wooden outdoor
furniture. Dad would assist in buying the lumber
and I could keep the net profit to buy bigger
and better tools.
The original shed was a tin-covered building
with a dirt floor for storing buggies and yard
tools. At one time, it had a large door going
into the alley. When my father made it look like
a home, many people asked him about living there
and they had to be told it was used just for
Upon the death of my parents, the building
went to my two sisters, Mary Theresa and
Margaret, and myself. As they got married, I
purchased their share of the building and kept
it until I sold it to Ralph Ireland in 1962. At
one time my family, including my wife Doris and
four children, Denise, Patty, Jim and Joe, lived
in the right side of the building.. On the left
side of the building on the top floor lived Mr.
and Mrs. Walter Crouse and their daughter,
Susan. On the second floor lived my wifeís
grandparents, Charles & Bessie Olinger.
In the mid-fifties, we had pigeons housed in
the small room in the rear of the shed.
"Pop" Olinger enjoyed looking after
the pigeons and at one time the flock was over
80 birds. We would race the birds from
Cumberland, Gettysburg and many places to see if
our birds were the best quality. We also had
show birds, Tumblers, Icelanders, Fan-tails
etc., and would show them at times. On leaving
in 1962, our flock was given to Gene Lingg, who
also raised pigeons down in a garage off East
Main Street. At that time it was a big thing.
Our clothing store served the community from
the opening of Edís Place in the mid-1920ís
through 1962. With the opening of the bypass to
the east of town, business was slowing down and
I moved with the family to the Washington area.
So this is the history of the Mystery House
on No. Seton Ave. It never was home to anyone
except about 40 pair of pigeons and a lot of
good times for me as I grew up in Emmitsburg.
other memories of Emmitsburg of Old by Ed Houck
Memories of Mary Irelan Trapane
My grandfather, Ralph Irelan, Sr., has owned
that property since 1963. He purchased the
property from Ed Houck, who had owned the
property (probably inherited from his parents)
for many, many years. The Houcks lived in the
building that is now 1 & 3 East Main Street.
To our knowledge, that property on N. Seton has
never been occupied (except by lots of pigeons).
If it had been, weíd be very interested in
One major correction: We requested the permit
to remove the building to make room for parking
by the tenants of 1 & 3 East Main Street. We
were never requested to remove the building by
the town of Emmitsburg. The "house"
sat on a concrete slab, had no real indoor
plumbing or insulation, and the only electricity
was a couple of ceiling light bulbs. For the 36
years that this property has been in my family,
this building has been used as a storage shed,
and my grandfather is also confident that the
"house" was used by the Houcks
primarily for storage as well. My grandfather
does remember that the Houcks sold toys in the
building during the Christmas season.
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