The origins of the mansion at 105 N. Front Street can be attributed to William Calder, Jr. (1821-1880), Simon Cameron's business partner, banker and manufacturer. Calder's father had been a preeminent Harrisburg stage coach operator and helped to establish Harrisburg's importance as a transportation center as the nucleus of early route development throughout the U.S. northeast. Calder Jr. was co-founder and president of the Harrisburg Car Works, president of the First National Bank of Harrisburg and was president and director of the Harrisburg Cotton Factory that stood at the current site of the Harrisburg Central YMCA. Calder's original house was a fancy three story stone mansion in the Second Empire style with mansard roof. Following his death, Calder's widow continued to reside at the property until it was sold in 1901 to Marlin E. Olmsted (1847-1913), U.S. Congressman for 16 years and nationally known attorney who had argued many cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Olmsted is particularly credited for his success as a tax and corporation attorney, winning cases for large companies and making him highly sought after by corporations throughout the nation. Olmsted converted the house to a palatial Italian Renaissance styled edifice commensurate with the growth of Harrisburg's stature as State Capital. many noted figures dined at this residence including U.S. President Howard Taft. After Olmsted's death, his widow, Gertrude Howard Olmsted, who was known for serving many cultural and humanitarian causes in Harrisburg, in 1925 married former Harrisburg mayor, business leader, U.S. Ambassador and Patriot-News editor Vance McCormick of the Harrisburg McCormick Dynasty. They lived at the home until McCormick died in 1946 and she in 1953.
1883 engraving of original Calder House prior to the Olmsted renovations.
Circa 1910 postcard view of Olmsted house after renovations.