The house is one of a small group of Second Empire style homes located in the Washington Street Historical District.
The Gordon-Roberts House was built in 1867 by Josiah Hance Gordon, a prominent attorney in Cumberland. Mr.Gordon had moved to the Cumberland area in 1842, when he commenced to study law at the firm of McKaig and McKaig. He was admitted to the bar in October of 1844. In 1851 he was elected Allegany County State’s Attorney and served until 1857 in that capacity. Mr. Gordon was elected in 1859 to the Maryland House of Delegates. During his term in the House, he was one of the legislators arrested at the special meeting held in Frederick on the question of Maryland’s secession from the Union. He, along with several other Maryland lawmakers, was accused of being a secessionist. At first he was incarcerated at Fort McHenry but later sent to Fort Warren. In 1869 Mr. Gordon became president of the C & O Canal. He was appointed Associate Judge of the Circuit Court in 1883. Mr. Gordon remained in the public eye throughout his long and illustrious career. He died suddenly on August 13, 1887 and is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Cumberland.
The second and last family to live in the house was the W. Milnor Roberts II family who lived in the home for over sixty years. Mr. Roberts was an engineer involved in building railroads. He spent many years in Brazil and upon returning to the Cumberland area he started a foundry and machine business. Besides being a successful businessman, Mr. Roberts was an accomplished violinist and had a workshop on the third floor of the house where he crafted violins. During the Roberts tenure “the home was the scene of many brilliant and festive occasions.”
The Allegany County Historical Society purchased the home from the Roberts’ estate in 1954. The Second Empire style home is operated as a house museum and is opened to the public for tours. Visitors are welcomed by costumed tour docents that escort them along three floors of the home illustrating the lifestyle of an upper-middle class family of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.