There are several, informative, self-guided walking tours available about the physical development of Westminster, its architectural styles, its history and its folklores. All of the tours are easy to walk and are generally located along Main Street.
This walking tour, written by local historian G. Thomas LeGore, traces the Civil War skirmish between General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry and a small unit of the Delaware cavalry that occurred in Westminster on June 29, 1863. This battle slowed Stuart's march to Gettysburg, thus delaying his report to General Robert E. Lee about the major Union troop movements in the area as well as possibly affecting the final outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg. (Tour takes approximately 40 minutes) Click here for the brochure of this tour.
The City of Westminster was founded by William Winchester in 1764. Westminster led a fairly quiet existence in its early days. However, in 1837, Westminster was selected the seat of the newly created Carroll County. As a result, government administration buildings were required to be built. This tour shows how the vernacular form of architecture - the Pennsylvania-German farmhouse style - gave way to national architectural styles, as the new county government wanted to show its progressiveness and the local property owners began to show their affluence and individuality in the structures they chose to build. The tour visits the exteriors of 10 sites including the historic jail, the original Carroll County court house and Ascension church. (Tour takes approximately 40 minutes) Click here for the brochure of this tour.
In 1764, William Winchester laid out the original 45 lots along Main Street from Washington Road to present day Court Street. With the arrival of the Western Maryland Railroad in 1863, Westminster became a virtual boom town in the second half of the 19th Century, with the area nearest the railroad tracks (today's downtown area) reflecting this economic activity. This tour examines the exteriors of 31 sites west of the original town from Center Street to Liberty Street. See many Main Street businesses with 19th Century architectural facades, along with the private residences of affluent Carroll County businessmen built during the late 1800's. (Tour takes approximately 1½ hours) Click here for the brochure of this tour.
If ghosts interest you, then take the "spirited" self-guided walking tour of Westminster entitled "Ghost Walk in Carroll County." Enjoy a light-hearted look at ghosts and goblins while viewing many architecturally interesting buildings and sites. This tour is especially fun if taken at dusk. During the month of October, the staff of the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library offers guided versions of this tour. (Tour takes approximately 1 hour) Click here for the brochure of this tour.
Copies of these brochures can also be picked up from the City's Administrative Offices at 56 West Main Street and the Carroll County Visitor Center at 210 East Main Street during business hours, by calling 1 (800) 272-1933 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Civil War Driving Tours
The Carroll County Office of Tourism offers two driving tours which help the visitor navigate the troop movements throughout Carroll County during the Civil War. Both of these tours include stops in Westminster.
The first tour, "Carroll County, Maryland: Roads to Gettysburg," helps the visitor navigate the movements of over 60,000 troops from the southern end of the county up to Gettysburg.
The second driving tour, "Gettysburg: Invasion and Retreat" is a much broader look at the June-July 1863 campaign and includes the surrounding counties. This brochure guides the visitor along the armies' paths, stopping at 18 trail markers in Carroll County that include illustrations, photos, and interesting stories about the impact of the Civil War on local citizens and the day-to-day stories of soldiers who marched toward the epic Gettysburg battle. Follow the Maryland Civil War Trail bugle trailblazer signs to the 18 wayside markers.
To receive a copy of "Carroll County, Maryland: Roads to Gettysburg" and/or "Gettysburg: Invasion and Retreat," stop by the Carroll County Visitor Center at 210 East Main Street during business hours, call 1 (800) 272-1933 or email email@example.com
The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area
As part of Carroll County's efforts to tell the Civil War story in context, Carroll County has partnered with Frederick and Washington Counties to form and be certified as the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area (HCWHA) under the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. These three counties contain stories of families torn apart on the home front, as sons went off to war to fight for their beliefs; the sites of the major battles of Antietam, Monocacy and South Mountain, along with important skirmishes such as Corbit's Charge; and numerous hospital centers and cemeteries that were beyond the battlefields. Many of the buildings are still standing today where the South met the North. With the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area brochure, visitors can explore the three counties and their cities and towns discovering the full impact the Civil War had, not only on this region, but on the entire nation. Copies of the brochure, "Heart of the Civil War" may be picked up at the Carroll County Visitor Center or mailed by calling 1 (800) 272-1933 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
. You may also visit the Heart of the Civil War website at www.heartofthecivilwar.org