There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of Westminster, Maryland is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions.
Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
Westminster originally consisted of more than 100 acres known as White’s Level. William Winchester, a literate indentured servant from England, purchased the land in 1764 for 150 pounds sterling (or $4.50 an acre) after working off his period of indenture. At that time, the town became known as Winchester, but was changed in 1768 to avoid confusion with Winchester, Va. According to local lore, Westminster was picked in honor of the name of Winchester’s supposed birthplace in England. Winchester, laid out the 45 lots to become Westminster, stretching from Old Washington Road to present day Court Street. It is the second oldest town in Carroll County. Germans migrated into this area from Pennsylvania bringing with them an architectural tradition of sturdy brick or stone farm houses, which they adapted to the closer quarters of town living.
Originally the land divided Baltimore and Frederick counties. However, in 1837, Westminster became the focal point of the newly designated Carroll County and developed as a trading hub. At this time, leather-making was the town’s principal industry. There were also many craftspeople and merchants. The town’s location along the main route to Baltimore accounted for its first major growth, and the coming of the Western Maryland Railroad (1861) turned Westminster into a virtual boom town during the last half of the 19th century.
The area nearest the railroad tracks reflects this surge of activity. Hotels like the Albion and the Charles Carroll emerged. Businesses sprung up and the telephone company and fire department moved into this section of town. Along Willis Street, the homes built on the “mansion sites”
created from the estate of John K. Longwell can be viewed. Longwell, the son of Irish immigrants, was invited to come to Westminster to establish a newspaper in the interest of the new county. He became the most influential of Westminster’s citizens in business and politics.
Our walking tour will start near the center of town, split by Main Street and Liberty Street. A small metered parking lot, free on weekends, is available there...