History of the Gilchrist Mansion
The Colonial Era
The mansion stands within the stockade boundary of colonial Fort Cumberland. Artifacts dating from the French and Indian War have been found on the property.
The Perry House
Judge Thomas Perry began building the residence in 1843. It is one of the oldest brick structures on Washington Street. The Federal Style residence included the tall smoke house, three privies and a chicken coop. Thomas Perry died in 1871.
The Gephart Era
Judge Oliver Cromwell Gephart purchased property in 1875 at public auction for $10,000. The Gepharts enriched the house with many new features and additions. A columned porch was added to the first floor, exterior shutters added to second floor, pediment dormers to third floor and a new carriage house was built on the grounds. Later the Gepharts added a large new wing which included a kitchen with running water, upper and lower porches on the south side and a sleeping porch located on the west site of the residence. Still present in the structure today is an ornate gas chandelier, two French Empire crystal chandeliers, and three French inspired pier mirrors and ornate radiator coverings in the art nouveau style.
The Gillette Era
Mrs. Gephart died in 1899 and Judge Gephart died in 1916. The mansion was passed on to their daughters, Mary and Susan. Upon Susana's death in 1921, Mary became the sole owner of the property. Mary Gephart married George Gillette in 1877 and lived in Baltimore and Philadelphia. In 1894 she moved back home with her son. Mary was an avid traveler and collector and added a wealth of fascinating objects to the house. Mary Gephart Gillette lived in the mansion until her death in 1952.
The Piper Era
After Mary Gephart Gillette's death, her granddaughter, Christine Gillette Piper, and her husband, Charles A. Piper, bought the house from her estate in 1953. Christine's main contribution was the loving and dedicated preservation of the house and gardens. She and her ancestors had lived in the mansion for 120 years. Presently, on the second floor, turn of the century furnishings, paintings, costumes and accessories donated by the family are on display.
The house was privately owned for a brief time and then purchased by Mrs. Jeanette Gilchrist and donated to the Cumberland Cultural Foundation for the purpose of creating a gallery. This was accomplished in 1999. Mrs. Gilchrist requested the gallery be named in memory of her husband, C. William Gilchrist, a patron of the arts.