Shellman House goes from historical to ornamental

The circa-1807 Shellman House in Westminster was unveiled last month as the subject of the Woman's Club of Westminster's eight annual holiday ornament.

Every year the club, part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, features an historic building in Westminster as the "model" for the ornament.

According to Linda Payne, a club spokesperson, sales from the ornaments help the club promote arts, conservation, education, home life, international outreach and public issues in Westminster.

In past years, the club has paid tribute to McDaniel College's Baker Chapel and Ward Memorial Arch, Westminster City Hall, the Carroll County Courthouse, the Westminster Armory, the bell and clock tower that sits atop the old Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1 firehall and the Old Stone Building on Liberty Street.

The Shellman house is considered a worthy landmark. In 1939, the then-newly formed Historical Society of Carroll County purchased the historic home on East Main Street in downtown Westminster.

But the history of the house dates back more than 100 years prior.

The land for the Shellman house was purchased from William Winchester Jr., son of the founder of Westminster, and the house was built in 1807 for the family of Jacob Sherman.

In 1842, the house was sold to John Fisher, a prominent landowner in Westminster and the first burgess of Westminster. He was elected on Monday, April 5, 1819, along with six commissioners: Ludwig Wampler, Jacob Sherman, Jacob Frenger, Isaac Shriver, John C. Cockey and Jacob Yin Ling. Westminster had six commissioners until the incorporation of 1838.

After Fisher's death in 1863, the Shellman house was purchased by the Shellman family in 1864; who owned the property until 1939, when the historical society saved it from being demolished.

The death of Fisher in 1863 threw a great deal of land on the market. In addition to what we now know as the Westminster playground, Fisher also owned much of what is now the area of the intersection of Green and Center streets.

A member of the Shellman family, Mary Bostwick Shellman, was born in Westminster in 1849 to Catherine and James Shellman. Mary Shellman founded Westminster's Memorial Day Parade in 1868 — today believed to be the longest continuously running Memorial Day parade in the country.

She was also a writer, humanitarian and composer. She is noted for having composed the words of the "Memorial Hymn for Arlington National Cemetery," the Memorial Day poem for Antietam Battlefield and the rally song for William McKinley's 1900 Presidential Campaign. She died in 1938.

Meanwhile, the Woman's Club is also marking history, celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The club started in January 1911 as the Woman's Literary Club. In 1913, the club joined the General Federation of Women's Clubs and the Maryland Federation of Women's Clubs Inc. and changed the name of the club to the Woman's Club of Westminster Inc.

The 2011 Woman's Club ornament depicting the Shellman House is available for $21 at the following locations: the Historical Society of Carroll County, Village Book Store at McDaniel College, Carroll County Arts Council, Westminster Armory, O'Lordon's Irish Pub, Westminster Antique Mall, Harvestin' Natural Foods, Benn's Menswear & Formalwear, Shop on the Square at Carroll Lutheran Village and at the monthly meetings of the GFWC Woman's Club of Westminster.

To order by phone, call Sandy Ferguson, at 410-848-3032.

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