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The Andersonburg Soldiers Orphan School

The state of Pennsylvania is steeped in rich history, and the Andersonburg Place is a shining example of that. Formerly known as “The Andersonburg Soldiers Orphan School” between 1866-1878, this brick building was a school and home for the area’s soldiers’ orphans of the Civil War. It was one of 24 such Orphan Schools established by the State of Pennsylvania. Before that, during the Civil War from 1863-1865, the brick building housed The Andersonburg Academy (also known as The Shermans Valley Institute and The Sunnyside Academy). The Academy was built, circa 1850’s, by Alexander Blain Anderson, whose family name remains today in the village names of Blain and Andersonburg.

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Developing Pennsylvania’s Soldiers Orphan Schools

The idea for the development of Pennsylvania’s Soldiers Orphan Schools began with two young brothers begging for bread at the home of Pennsylvania Governor, Andrew Curtin on Thanksgiving Day 1862. The governor heard their story; their father had died in the war effort and after their mother passed as well were left homeless, hungry, penniless. Governor Curtin was deeply affected and, soon after, worked tirelessly to pass legislation that would provide care and education for the Pennsylvania Soldiers’ orphans. The bill passed in the spring of 1864, and the Pennsylvania Railroad donated $50,000 to fund the beginnings of the Pennsylvania Soldiers Orphan Schools.


The orphanage opens

The Civil War left many orphans and populations at all the soldiers orphan schools swelled. Soldiers’ orphans often had a living mother who was not able to feed, school, and raise the children on her own. The Andersonburg Soldiers Orphan School officially opened its doors in September 1866 and began receiving orphans at that time. By the close of the 1867 school year, there were 117 orphans housed and schooled here. It was one of the 24 Pennsylvania Orphan Schools capable and certified to receive orphans as young as four years of age. Children entered the Andersonburg location from several surrounding counties, including Perry County. In fact, some local families still have roots here—their great grandparent or great-great-grandparent having been schooled and raised at The Andersonburg Soldiers Orphan School.



New chapters

The Andersonburg Soldiers Orphan School officially closed its doors in 1878, twelve years after it opened. After closing, the brick house has served as private residence for nearly a century and a half, from 1878 until 2012. In 2012, the residence was purchased by current owners, Mike and Terra Brownback, who spent the better part of the next decade carefully and lovingly restoring and updating the building while maintaining its original 1800s features throughout. Today, the Andersonburg Place hosts visitors from across the east coast—drawn by its historical charm, significance, and beauty.

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