Built in 1846 to replace a previous structure destroyed by fire, Cumberland County's Old Courthouse was shelled by Confederates during their march to Gettysburg in 1863.
Carlisle has held a prominent role in the region as the heart of county government since the Colonial Era, when the Pennsylvania Assembly named it as the county seat in 1751. Court was held in a log building on the town square starting in 1753. A brick courthouse was constructed in 1765, but a devastating fire destroyed it in 1845. Reportedly, townspeople rushed into the burning building to rescue court documents. The current courthouse, constructed of brick with sandstone columns, was completed in 1846.
Because of its proximity to the Mason Dixon Line, Carlisle often found itself at the center of Underground Railroad activity, and several important Fugitive Slave Law cases were tried in this courthouse, including the case that led to the McClintock Riots in 1847. In 1863, part of the Confederate calvary shelled Carlisle right before the Battle of Gettysburg, the evidence of which can still be seen today.
The Old Courthouse had many of its functions moved into a more modern courthouse in 1962 but still houses a few county offices and is used for ceremonial court proceedings, like naturalization ceremonies.
Under normal conditions, The Old Courthouse is open to the pubic from 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, as long as it's not reserved for private tours or other events. It is closed to the public during the pandemic.