BY SPEROS MARINOS / JUNE 2015
The story of the house that Luther Sachs built begins with a sale of land that the (William) Penn proprietors sold to Mr. Cox in 1801. During the Battle of Gettysburg James McKnight owned the land under the Sachs House. Amos Leister, son of widow Lydia Leister purchased the land in 1874. Luther Sachs became the owner of the land in the 1940s. The McKnight barn was still standing on that 4.2 acre tract. Gettysburg National Military Park historian Fred Tilberg photographed the barn for his 1947 report. Nine men of the 33rd Mass. Infantry were killed on this land during the battle.
The 1939 Year-Book of the Trinity Evangelical Reformed Church Gettysburg has an advertisement that reads “Luther I. Sachs Contractor Buildor (sic) Hardware 10% off for Cash Gettysburg Phone 110-W.” Mr. Sachs constructed a Cape Code style house between McKnight’s barn and McKnight’s hill, aka Stevens Knoll in 1946. This house is 54 feet from the old Shippensburg to Baltimore Road/Brickyard Lane.
The house was a model home for a development that was to encompass the Sachs property and the neighboring 30 acres owned by the Levan family. If that development was built it may have been seen from the Spangler’s Spring area. The Sachs development was not built for various reasons. Due to the shortage of building materials as a result of World War II and the Marshall Plan, Sachs used leftover from other building sites. The windows are all different sizes. The entire house was made of mismatched materials. Many “War Houses” were being built for the returning soldiers.
The house and land were purchased by the Marinos family in 1960. The house was used as a rental property until 1981. Joe Cutter was a tenant in the house. Cutter was the resident assistant to Cliff Arquette of Charlie Weaver fame. The Charlie Weaver character became a famous television personality in the 1960s and ’70s. Cutter was instrumental in the daily operations of the “Charlie Weaver Museum” on Baltimore Street in Gettysburg.
When General Dwight David Eisenhower retired to Gettysburg, the family had 24-hour, seven days each week Secret Service agent protection, as do all modern presidents of the United States. A Secret Service supervisor lived in the house that Luther Sachs built. This agent was on call on a 24-hour-each day basis. New telephone lines were installed. A 4″x 4″ four pole telephone jack was placed in each room of the house. Both upstairs and downstairs bathrooms had these jacks. The agent had to be able to be reached no matter what he was doing. This was before cordless and cell phones were invented. The Secret Service operations were scaled back after the General’s death in 1968 and the agent moved out.
Over the years many different people rented the house. A teacher, insurance agent, PennDOT supervisor and and interior decorator have all called Luther’s Cape Cod house home. A number of babies and teenagers have grown up on the property.
What was once a Cumberland Township farm and battle area has now become shelter for many different people.
Speros Marinos was the first chairman of the Cumberland Township Historical Society and is still a contributing member.