Here’s the story of a man named Dobbin: an educated Irish-born immigrant who left behind everything but his wife, Isabella, and voyaged to the New World, where he made his mark several times over. Reverend Alexander Dobbin acquired 300 acres of land in Gettysburg and, “four score and seven years” before the Gettysburg Address, erected the home that would be his family’s Gettysburg address. The house wasn’t small, and neither was his family; his wife bore him ten children before her death and he remarried to a widow with nine children of her own. The Brady Bunch had nothing on them!
Dobbin built his house to be more than just a dwelling; it was the culmination of his dream to establish a Classical School, the first to open its doors west of the Susquehanna River. Teaching a combination of liberal arts and theology, he quickly earned a reputation as an educator and brought prestige to the school. The high regard of his peers helped him in the movement to distinguish Adams County as a separate entity from York County.
Over the years, the house continued to contribute to the pages of history. In the time of the Underground Railroad (the mid-1800s), a clandestine crawl space sheltered the runaway slaves who risked it all for their freedom. When Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, the residents of the house could have watched him from the balcony. And, in the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, the house became a hospital, where Union and Confederate soldiers were treated with equal care.
Dobbin House is the oldest structure in Gettysburg still standing, and what a history it has! Restoration has allowed it to maintain its original beauty and great effort has been made to keep its furnishings and décor authentic. Although it used to host a large-scale Civil War diorama, it is now open to the public as a colonial tavern, renowned for its culinary offerings. You’ll eat well and you’ll drink deeply of the rich history that resides in Reverend Alexander Dobbin’s home.
Eat, drink, and be merry at the Dobbin House Tavern in Gettysburg!