In the administration of Thomas Jefferson, the first United States highway was begun for the opening of the west. Called the National Road, it started at the base of the hill on which Emmanuel stands and eventually ran to Vandalia, IL (then the State Capital). In the early 19th Century, then, Cumberland was the jumping off place for countless Conestoga wagon trains heading off to settle Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and beyond. By the 1840’s, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, begun along the Potomac at Georgetown, had reached it’s terminus. So had the first railroad west, the Baltimore and Ohio that ran from Baltimore to Cumberland. Cumberland was a boomtown, literally the transportation hub of the Northeast United States.
By the 1840’s, the little Emmanuel Church was way too small for the congregation. The Rector at the time was one David Hillhouse Buel, a man of vision and sophisticated taste. Through him the congregation hired John Notman of Philadelphia to design a new house of worship. A leading figure in what was then avant-garde, Notman took plans from Medieval English Gothic and converted them into the Church we know today.
The cornerstone was laid Ascension Day, 1849, and the Church was consecrated on October 16th, 1851 – 48 years to the day after the formal incorporation of Emmanuel Parish.