Lutheran Theological Seminary (Gettysburg)

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Lutheran Theological Seminary, Schmucker Hall, photo © by Mike Kendra, taken November 1999.

The Lutheran Theological Seminary gives its name to the geographical feature, Seminary Ridge, which was the site of fierce fighting on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863. Schmucker Hall, as well as adjacent homes of the professors, was used for weeks after the battle as a temporary field hospital before its last patients were moved to the Camp Letterman military hospital.

Landmark Details

  • Also Known As: Schmucker Hall, The Old Dorm, Seminary Ridge Museum
  • Location: 111 Seminary Ridge
  • Built: 1832
  • Occupants in July 1863: Seminary Students & Faculty
  • Current Owner: Seminary Ridge Museum
  • Admission: Private Museum, entry fee required.

History of the Lutheran Theological Seminary

Founded in 1826, the oldest continuing Lutheran seminary in America is located “up on Seminary Ridge” across from Gettysburg College. Samuel Simon Schmucker, a leading churchman in American Lutheran circles in the mid-19th century, founded the seminary and neighboring Gettysburg College. An articulate anti-slavery activist, he supported the Underground Railroad by harboring fugitive slaves in his barn and home. He encouraged Daniel Alexander Payne, who was the first African-American to receive his theological education in a Lutheran seminary (1837).

On July 1, 1863, the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the campus became a battleground and then the center of the Confederate line for two days.

Early on the first day of the battle, Union General John Buford viewed advancing Confederate forces and coordinated his cavalry's defenses from the building's cupola while waiting for I Corps Commander General John Reynolds and the infantry to join in the engagement.

During the first day of battle the building suffered damage from cannon balls and musket fire.

Late on the first day, and into the second day, Confederate commanders likely used the cupola to view Union Army positions.

The seminary also served as a field hospital, treating casualties until late September of 1863 when it was the last field hospital closed.

After the Civil War, the Old Dorm continued its normal function at the seminary. Lightning struck and destroyed the famous cupola in 1913, but the rest of the building was saved. In 1962 the building became the home of the Adams County Historical Society. Beginning in 2013 the Old Dorm will be the home of the Seminary Ridge Museum.

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