LEARN ABOUT OUR AREA’S RICH HISTORY.
Spend a historic day touring the Lebanon Valley. From gothic architecture to one of the oldest transportation tunnels in the U.S. to the renowned Cornwall iron furnace, there are many sites to see. Lebanon County has a rich history and beautiful architecture to show for it. When you visit the Lebanon Valley, you will find Victorian Gothic style buildings and original 18th century colonial buildings that tell a unique story.
Download our self-guided Downtown Lebanon architecture tour and the History & Heritage Itinerary for your visit.
The Blue Eyed Six
It was July of 1878.
It all began in a hotel room in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, where four men met to hatch a plan of murder.
The men took several life insurance policies out on an impoverished neighbor Joseph Raber, and declared they were planning to take care of Raber for the rest of his life and cover his burial expenses upon his death. The policies totaled $8,000. In reality, the men intended to kill Raber and collect the policy payout for themselves.
The paperwork was signed and soon after, the four men hired two assassins to drown Raber in the Indiantown Run. The coroner declared Raber’s death an accident, and his remains were laid to rest in the Moonshine United Zion Church cemetery.
The men almost got away with it, until the son-in-law of one of the original conspirators came forward to police and the men were arrested in connection with Raber’s death. In an unprecedented court decision, all six men – the four conspirators plus the two assassins – were tried together. This, along with the fact that each suspect had blue eyes, led the newspapers to refer to the men as the Blue Eyed Six. All six were found guilty of murder in April 1879, though one of the conspirators, George Zechman, was later granted a second trail and acquitted due to lack of evidence against him. The remaining five were sentenced to death by hanging. The executions of the attackers occurred at the county prison. Today, the county prison’s original location is the beautifully restored Farmers Market in the center of town.
The Lebanon County African American Heritage Trail offers you and your family a guide to exhibits and historic sites in our county that are related to Black History. With some of these sites traced back to the 1700’s there is lots to see, read, and learn about the people and places that helped to shape this area of Pennsylvania.
TOP 5 TO TRY: HISTORY & ARCHITECTURE
Cornwall, PA – It is difficult to imagine that this quiet cluster of beautiful buildings nestled in the rolling hills of Lebanon County was once the home of a fire-breathing blast furnace with an insatiable appetite for rocks and wood!
Annville, PA - The elaborate Pennsylvania Veterans’ Memorial is the largest monument in VA’s National cemeteries. The combination open-air space and building stands 107 feet high and 360 feet long. Its design evokes "the ruins of a war-torn building centered in a land of solemnity."
Schaefferstown, PA – Enjoy great food, great service and a wonderful atmosphere in a historic building. Stop by the tavern or one of the beautifully decorated dining rooms, which are available for banquets or private parties.
Mt. Gretna, PA - This historic theater is one of America's oldest summer theatres and has been operating at the Mount Gretna Playhouse since 1927.
Annville, PA – Harper’s Tavern offers casual dining with a touch of history to great food for an unmatched combination.
Lebanon, PA – A 30,000 square foot historically restored facility occupying nearly one-half the block. This original 1892 Farm Market Building has been preserved to the beauty of it's 19th century birth while creating a 21st century shopping experience!
Mt. Gretna, PA - The Society is charged with preserving the heritage of the entire Mount Gretna area
Lebanon, PA – The Lebanon County Historical Society was organized in 1898 by a group of interested local citizens and amateur historians. The Society was considered the county’s attic until 1935, when the group offered its first public exhibits. Today, the LCHS is a place where residents and visitors alike can experience our history first-hand, as well as conduct their own historical research and have access to related gifts and souvenirs. The LCHS is truly one of Lebanon County’s hidden gems.
Lebanon, PA – Situated on 109 acres of meadows and woods, you will find the oldest existing transportation tunnel in the U.S - The Union Canal. The Tunnel was completed in 1827 and today is a treasured National Historic Landmark.
We invite you on a 1.4-mile loop featuring some of the architectural treasures throughout the historic downtown Lebanon. Our 2019 Architectural Guide features the following stops:
- Samler Building | 802 Cumberland St.
- Mann Building | 815 Cumberland St.
- Salem Lutheran Church | 119 N. 8th St.
- Cornwall and Lebanon Railroad Station | 161 N. 8th St.
- Reading Railroad Station | 250 N. 8th St.
- Mansion on 5th | 5th & Cumberland Sts. SE Corner
- St. Luke’s Episcopal Church | 6th & Chestnut Sts. NE Corner3
- Lebanon Farmer’s Market & Visitor’s Center | 35 S. 8th St.
The Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society gives you an in-depth history of “A Park in the Woods”. Learn about this area’s rich culture, deep past, and fascinating facts as you experience a virtual tour of the historical society museum. For more information about Mt. Gretna, click here.