top of page

A National Historic Landmark

Frederick County’s oldest house open to the public.

A surprisingly complete story of the pioneer days of Frederick County, Maryland, nearly 300 years ago can be learned by touring the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum.

The house is one of the oldest in Frederick County and one of the best examples in America of how German settlers adapted their traditions to the American frontier. Its distinctively German features led the U.S. Department of the Interior to name it a National Historic Landmark.

DSC00642 (2).JPG

Among those features: two-foot-thick stone walls; a clean, energy-efficient radiant heating system (the only one anywhere still in its original location); and a tightly winding staircase to the second floor. Visitors may tour the four-bedroom house, including its huge kitchen with a sink that drains outdoors, and go downstairs to the large, barrel-vaulted cellar that served as the refrigerator of the 18th century. Guides will show you around the house and give you more of the story behind this fascinating chapter of American history.

*    *    *

The story of Schifferstadt began as part of the great German migration in the 1600s and 1700s when tens of thousands of Germans fled their ravaged native land to seek a better life in America. Most landed in Philadelphia and settled in Pennsylvania, but many continued west and south, tracing the Monocacy River valley to Frederick County.

Joseph and Cathrina Brunner led three generations of their family on this path, reaching Philadelphia in 1729. In 1736 most of the Brunner family moved to what is now Frederick County and began farming a 303-acre tract of land. They called it Schifferstadt, after their hometown in the German region of the Palatinate. Three grown sons and two married daughters settled on nearby parcels. The Brunners first built a log cabin, but after 17 years in the log house, Joseph sold Schifferstadt to his son, Elias, then 30. In 1758 Elias and his wife Albertina built the stone house that has stood for 260 years and today is a prized feature of Frederick’s early days.

Heritage Garden

While at the museum we welcome you to explore our award-winning Heritage Garden.


Maintained by a Master Gardener and volunteers, this example of a colonial four-square kitchen garden was honored with a Frederick City Historic Preservation Award in 2015. Additionally, it is Bay-Wise Certified as being an environmentally sound landscape for the Chesapeake Bay. Learn about each plant's culinary, medicinal, cosmetic, and household use.

Download the 2019 Garden brochure for more information and specific plant listing.

Gift Shop

The Schifferstadt gift shop has something for visitors of all ages, from our colonial-era games to our local handmade pottery from the Frederick Pottery Guild. Browse our bookshelves to learn about local history and legends, pick up Schifferstadt merchandise to remember your visit, or choose from our Scherenschnitte (German paper cutting) stationary to write friends and family. Follow your nose to our locally produced lotions, soaps, and beeswax candles, or follow your stomach to our selection of McCutcheon's jams, jellies, and sodas. Make sure to check back often for our seasonal offerings, especially during the holidays when we feature traditional German Christmas ornaments of all shapes and sizes.

Members receive a 10% discount at the gift shop so make sure to join today!

bottom of page