Emmanuel Episcopal Church replacing ancient stone wall

Work is scheduled to replace the entire wall around the property of Emmanuel Episcopal Church after a portion of it collapsed onto the sidewalk on Washington Street.

CUMBERLAND — A portion of the stone wall on Washington Street that supports the grounds of Emmanuel Episcopal Church recently collapsed.

Another portion started to show signs that it, too, could falter. The damage has been caused by drainage problems attributed to the age of both the wall and drains.

The church has been advised to replace the entire wall, which will cost nearly $200,000, and despite the cost has engaged a local contractor who will begin work shortly.

The church was constructed in 1850 on the site of Fort Cumberland, which was used during the French and Indian War. George Washington led troops from the fort during that war and later returned there as president to lead troops against the Whiskey Rebellion.

The fort included trenches and tunnels that have survived until the present time. It was in these tunnels, according to local oral history, that Emmanuel’s dedicated abolitionist rector, David Hillhouse Buell, and like-minded parishioners operated a station on the Underground Railroad during the decade leading up to the Civil War.

For 170 years the wall has witnessed the development of Cumberland, the Queen City of the Appalachians. Initially built along Washington Street, the wall was modified and expanded in 1901 to include the Greene Street side of the property during construction of Emmanuel’s Parish Hall.

The church will welcome any contributions to help cover the expense of rebuilding the wall. Call the church office at 301-777-3364 or email rectoremmanuelcumberland@gmail.com.

Tours of Emmanuel’s sanctuary with its Tiffany stained glass windows and 265-year-old tunnels will be available after the pandemic restrictions are lifted. The tours are led by Emmanuel’s chief docent, Ron Growden. Visit emmanuelparishofmd.org for more information or to book tours.

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