Red Patch is a classic example of Victorian Architecture and has an interesting history. The house was built in 1900 as a summer home by the Brevet Major General Charles H.T. Collis who commanded the 114th Pennsylvania (Collis’ Zouaves). Red Patch is named after the red diamond patch that his Zouaves wore on their uniforms to identify themselves as being in the 1st Division in the 3rd Corps of the Army of the Potomac. We are located on Confederate Ave. across the street from an original wall that was here during the battle.
During the short time he used the house, General Collis entertained many important political associates and old war friends. Reportedly, he threw quite the parties here. On May 10, 1902, General Collis was taken ill and was rushed to Philadelphia where he died the next day at Bryn Mawr Hospital. He is buried in the Gettysburg National Cemetery and a high-backed bench topped by a bust of him facing Red Patch marks his grave. His grave is the only military grave that is not marked by a standard military headstone in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Red Patch is modeled after a house built by the architect Jacques Vanderbeck in Somerville, N.J. Merville E. Stallsmith, a well-known Gettysburg contractor, built it. The house is of the Queen Anne style, usually characterized by its off-center turrets and towers, shingling and wrap-around porch. The interior is filled with extensive natural woodwork, high ceilings, 4 fireplaces and hardwood floors. Originally the house contained a callbox system, electric and gas lighting, and 2 complete bathrooms, one of which contained a marble shower. Many of the original electric/gas fixtures can be seen throughout the house.
General Collis purchased a tract of land from Mr. & Mrs. James Kepner of Gettysburg PA. on Sept. 16, 1899 for $1,700. The tract included not only the land where Red Patch is located, but also, a large tract behind the house that now comprises many of the homes on Red Patch Avenue. According to his contract with the builder, construction was started on September 29, 1899 and completed by January 1, 1900.
When Gen. Collis died the estate went to his son Lloyd Collis. On April 15, 1910, the property was sold to “Madame” Lida J. Hooper. During this time, Camp Colt, an Army installation, was in operation less than a mile away. Local lore has it that the house was used as a bordello about that time. This is a persistent story that has been conveyed by a number of octogenarians who were youngsters at that time. Of additional interest is the fact that Lida was the wife of the Rev. William Hooper, the minister of the Episcopal Church until his death in 1917. Lida survived until 1930, where her obituary mentions her ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Is it possible that she may have been the first "Mayflower Madame"? The research continues. Upon Lida Hooper’s death, the house was awarded to her daughter, Lida Hooper Kepner. In December of 1947, the house was sold to Elmer J’ Dillman. During the time he owned the house, Mr. Dillman sold all of the furniture that came with the house and started his antique business. On December 1, 1976, he sold the property to the National Park Service.
While owned by the National Park Service, the house was used as offices for a period of time but after awhile, it became too expensive to maintain or repair. It remained vacant for almost 4 years. On January 29, 1985, John and Sharon Miller purchased the house from the National Park Service. They have done many of the renovations as you see it today. It was over a year before they were able to move in due to the extensive work needed. On December 29, 1997, Sal and Gail Prezioso, the current owners, purchased Red Patch and live here today. They have continued to research the history of the house and have been in contact with descendants of each of the previous owners.
A couple of years ago, they began work on the house with the intention of opening Red Patch as a Bed & Breakfast so they could share this wonderful history with others. They received approval late in 2015, from the Borough of Gettysburg to begin operations as a bed & breakfast with 3 bedrooms, one with a private bath and 2 rooms sharing a bath.
Due to covenants placed in the deed by the U.S. Government, the house will always maintain its distinctive appearance and continue to be a part of the history of Gettysburg.