Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

History & Hospitality: Gettysburg’s historic Brafferton Inn welcomes those looking for a fall respite, a quaint retreat–or maybe a spooky ghost tour.

Screenshot 2015-09-28 10.05.41For many Pennsylvanians, fall is their favorite season, and scheduling a final getaway before the temps grow frigid is on many to-do lists.

Because there is such beauty in our own backyard this time of year, there’s little reason to venture far. For history buffs, in particular, the Brafferton Inn in Gettysburg offers guests a comfortable environment to explore and learn about the rich events of our past.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the bed and breakfast is conveniently located a block from Lincoln Square, an easy walk to restaurants, museums, art galleries, antique shops and ghost tours, which are especially popular this time of year.

Steeped in History

Built in 1786, the Brafferton Inn is touted as the oldest deeded house in downtown Gettysburg and the oldest continual residence.

Joan Hodges, who operates the bed and breakfast with her son Brian and his wife Marybeth, explained that the house was built on land purchased from John Penn by Samuel Gettys.

The land later was sold to Michael Hoke, a tanner by profession, who worked with the Gettys family. Hoke began building a townhouse on the lot before the town was established, eventually transferring it to his brother, Henry, who added onto the structure before it was put up for sale.

In 1843, Nicholas Codori, who emigrated from Alsace, France, purchased the property for $1,600. The father of 11 was a butcher by trade and, at the start of the Civil War, purchased a farm on Emmitsburg Road to raise livestock in the area later known for Pickett’s Charge.

“Their butcher shop was next door, and they raised and slaughtered their livestock out there and then brought it into town,” said Hodges.

During the battle, the Codoris took refuge in the basement of what is now known as the Brafferton Inn as bullets struck their home and whistled through the air above their heads.

After the battle ended, the Codoris opened their home to worshippers.

“One of the rooms upstairs was used as a Catholic church because the churches were filled with the wounded,” Hodges said.

Five generations of Codoris lived in the house over the course of 150 years until a lack of male descendants forced a change of hands.

The property has been operating as an inn for 31 years. The historic property was once featured in Country Living Magazine when former New York publicist Mimi Agard owned the operation and persuaded the national publication to come out and have a look.

More recently, Sam and Jane Back, former administrators at Choate Rosemary Hall Prep School in Wallingford Conn., ran the inn before selling to the Hodges about 11 years ago.

Welcoming Visitors

Those seeking a comfortable getaway can choose from among 17 rooms, nine suites and a three-bedroom guesthouse, with décor varying from Colonial to Victorian.

Each morning, B&B patrons gather for a hearty breakfast in the original dining room, which dates back to 1815 and features a unique mural.

“It’s a Rufus Porter-type mural painted by artist Virginia McLaughlin from Frederick, Md., and depicts 90 buildings in Gettysburg and what they may have looked like in 1863,” Hodges explained.

Elaine Harvey, who hails from Beallsville in Washington County, Pa., said she has been visiting the award-winning establishment for at least a decade.

“When I arrived the first day, it was like meeting friends,” said the self-described “Civil War nut.” “They were warm and welcoming. The food is excellent, and the rooms are wonderful. My oldest grandchild, who is 13, thinks it’s the best. Brian cooks and Joan bakes. Her lemon poppy seed muffins are wonderful.”

After breakfast, guests can relax in the adjacent parlor and choose from an array of books on Gettysburg and the Civil War and admire Keith Rocco’s work, which adorns the walls. Hodges will be happy to provide background details on the artist, who goes to great lengths to ensure his paintings are historically accurate.

David Vesser and his wife traveled from Fredericksburg, Va., for the convenient location and the hospitality of the proprietors.

“Joan, Brian and Marybeth are fabulous people who would do anything in the world for you, like arranging transportation for tours and providing information on meals,” said Vesser. “It’s just a great place to go.”

The couple likes the Inn so much that they recently renewed their vows there for their 25th anniversary.

Hodges said visitors come for a host of reasons, but most can be divided into the following categories: history, the arts, ghost tours and the nearby college.

“There are parents who stay with us year after year while their children study at the college nearby,” she said.

Hodges, who was a critical care nurse and is retired from Philips Medical and Hewlett Packard, said she’s well suited to her third act as innkeeper.

“It seems like six degrees of separation from everyone who comes here, so I find an interesting connection with a lot of different people, which is very fun,” she said.

To learn more about the Brafferton Inn, visit www.brafferton.com.

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