Fabled bed & breakfast in Gettysburg offers glimpse of past

| Monday, June 17, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

The Swope Manor Bed & Breakfast in Gettysburg once housed a Union soldier from a New York regiment — Lt. William Pohlman — who was wounded during Pickett's Charge and went to Dr. John Swope for care.

That was during the Civil War in 1863, and it's only one of the countless stories about the people who have lived at, stayed at or passed by the Swope Manor, which a North Huntingdon couple has renovated and opened as a bed-and-breakfast.

When John and Lori Jumba saw the huge house — which is 8,700 square feet, not including a 3,300-square-foot carriage house in the back — John knew he had to have it. His wife told him he was crazy.

“I said, ‘No, I've got to have it,' ” John Jumba says.

They watched the price of the historic home drop from $1.3 million to $900,000 over a period of two years. They bought it in September for $600,000, which included the furniture, much of which the Jumbas kept. Members of the family who previously owned the house had either moved or passed away.

The Jumbas — who live in North Huntingdon with children Jacob, 5, and Emily, 11 — are not new to owning a business. They also own Steel Valley Ambulance Service in Homestead and the Autumn Ridge Personal Living home in Monroeville.

The Jumbas spent about a half million dollars in renovations, a cost they consider well worth it. They combined some rooms to make suites, removed some rooms to make more space and added private bathrooms to every guest room. They hired a full-time innkeeper after the renovation was finished in April, then opened to guests the first week of May. The inn has 13 rooms, with Civil War-theme names.

Gerrie Fitzgibbon, 68, of Plum, already has stayed at The Swope Manor twice with her husband, Rick. She found the inn online. “It's just really inviting; it's beautiful,” she says. “I don't think there's a bad room. They're all just very different, pretty and unique.

When Fitzgibbon lies in bed, she thinks about all of the people who have lived and stayed in that house for 150-plus years, and it's both eerie and fascinating, she says.

The Swope Manor has a rich history, starting in 1836, when banker George Swope purchased the lot and tore down the two-story log home that stood there and replaced it with the brick house there today. Swope — along with his wife, Margaret, and their son, John, and his family — were living in the home when the Union and Confederate troops descended on Gettysburg and clashed in a battle July 1 to 3, 1863, that caused some 51,000 casualties. The Swope home stood in the midst of the battle, and family members watched Union men race past the windows as they retreated with the Confederates in pursuit July 1.

Sadly, Lt. Pohlman, who received care from Dr. Swope, died from a hemorrhage a few weeks later.

After the battle, the Swope family helped to rebuild the community. The family is now interred in Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery.

“This is the history of this whole town,” Jumba, 42, says about the battle. “Think about what those people went through back in the day when the battle was going on. ... It's just amazing.

“I'm in awe of what it looks like,” he says about the restored Swope Manor, which he considers an upscale B&B. “We still can't believe that we own this.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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