Carlisle was once known as the “Most Historic Town in America” according to an advertisement for The Molly Pitcher Hotel in 1919.[i] During the 1920’s Carlisle’s downtown was booming. Marguerite Grove-Harnish remembers High Street as a little girl growing up, when asked about the difference between then and now she says, “There is a terrific difference. Downtown is not at all how it use to be.”[ii] Marguerite was born and raised here in Carlisle and she has seen the transformations the downtown has undergone.
As, Marguerite speaks her eyes light up and through her words she begins to paint a picture of the downtown she remembers growing up, “My mother would bring the three of us [sisters] into town and we would go to Richie’s drug store and we would go there and have a coke…Before school would start my dad would take us into Sadie’s dress shop, which was very nice, and he would buy us our outfits for school. It was a nice homey, friendly town.” Marguerite smiles as she reminisces about the past as she describes going out to dinner at the once very fancy Molly Pitcher Hotel, “As, you entered the lobby you could tell that you were in a more elegant place. It was just nice. As, you approached the dinning room it was light and bright. The French doors there were glass French doors…And of course the table cloths- nice real table cloths and the (server) would come in and he’d have his white napkin over his arm and it was just special.” During this time people dressed in there finest to dance and dine. Women wore their fur coats and beautiful dresses, while men wore their shiny shoes and tailored suits.
What has happened to the downtown Carlisle that Marguerite vividly remembers? The purpose of this project is to further explore hotel and lodging in Carlisle from both a historic and present day perspective. The period of study are the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, this particular time period is an important part of Carlisle history because it will help contextualize the decline of business in the downtown area. The hotels and lodging places of focus are the Molly Pitcher Hotel, James Wilson and the The Carlisle House.
[i] Molly Pitcher. Advertisement. 1919
[ii] Harnish-Grove, Marguerite. Personal interview. 30 Nov 2007.