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Jane Rissler

The Harpers Ferry-Bolivar Historic Town Foundation is honored and deeply grateful to have received a significant bequest from the estate of the late Jane Rissler. She was a dear friend of board member Delores Jackson Foster and an advocate for local African American history. Her generous contribution will significantly bolster our efforts in preserving First Zion Baptist Church and promoting the rich historical heritage of Harpers Ferry and Bolivar.


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A Cool Picture

Check out this picture of Harpers Ferry taken by the Army Air Force in 1930! Our town has undergone some drastic changes in the last 90+ years, hasn’t it?

If you are interested in seeing more photographs, check out the National Archives Catalog. There are a number of fascinating aerial photos to scroll through.

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The Schilling Family

A friend of the Foundation, Chris Schilling, reached out to us with his family history in Bolivar and some delightful photos from the past. He wrote to us:

“My 2nd great-grandfather (Joseph Paul Schilling) was a grocer from Bolivar. His father came over from Bavaria and settled there around 1840. Joseph was married to Mary Cavalier, one of the daughters of Joshua Cavalier who was a prominent farmer in Bolivar….

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William A. Saunders was the longest serving Black professor at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, but his fascinating life story includes a sweet love story with a tragic ending.

Back when Saunders was a 29-year-old in his senior class at Bates College, the class prophet predicted he would never marry. Perhaps it because he was so much older than his classmates or because he seemed such a serious missionary for…

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Woodpecker Woods

The Trail & Town Alliance of Harpers Ferry-Bolivar is a standing committee of the Foundation. The Alliance now serves as the steering committee for our two towns’ participation in the Appalachian Trail Community Program and the Canal Town Partnership. As such, we build coalitions among towns, partner with the National Park Service, trail organizations, and the business community.

Over the past year, the Trail and Town Alliance has made great…

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Our foundation vice chair, Lynn Pechuekonis, published a book! Man of Sterling Worth: Professor William A. Saunders of Storer College details the life of William Saunders, a professor at Storer College here in Harpers Ferry. We are so proud of Lynn, and we wanted to learn more about the book, so she was happy to answer some questions.

Q:  Who was William Saunders and what prompted you to write his…

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John Wesley Church

While the iconic St. Peters Roman Catholic Church in Lower Town is surely the most well-known religious building in Harpers Ferry, the most forgotten may be the ramshackle structure at 1060 W. Ridge Street.

The gray-shingled John Wesley Church was once the place of worship for the black Methodist Episcopal congregation, organized as early as 1869. The cornerstone of the church dates its construction to 1879.

Always too small a congregation…

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Walking Through History

The U.S. Civil Rights movement can be said to have been advanced in Harpers Ferry, not only by the famous John Brown Raid, but through Storer College, the state’s first institution to provide secondary education to black citizens. Harpers Ferry – primarily due to Storer – also attracted permanent black residents, vacationers, entrepreneurs, and civil rights leaders like Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. DuBois.

Due to popular demand, the…

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Bolivar Project Earns Excellence in Preservation Award

The rescue of a distinctive historic home in Bolivar has been recognized with an Excellence in Preservation Award by the Harpers Ferry – Bolivar Historic Town Foundation. The annual award highlights the work of Pam Leonard and John Flower for their contribution to maintaining and enhancing the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of our community. Their preservation of the long-neglected house at…

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Is It Spring Yet?

Like you, we are eagerly waiting for the weather to improve so that we can get outside and partake in some fun activities around town. One activity you can do yourself is our Harpers Ferry Black Heritage Walking Tour. Get some fresh air and learn about all sorts of fascinating historical figures such as Dr. Madison Briscoe.

Madison S. Briscoe was…

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