NEWS

Stay up-to-date with our latest news and learn more about local history!

April 15, 2021

Washington County Baseball

In honor of Baseball Opening Day 2021, this article will focus on Washington County’s rich baseball history through the lens of Hagerstown.  The alluring aroma of concession stand popcorn. The taste of a perfectly cooked ballpark hot dog. The indescribable, yet intimately familiar sound of bat hitting ball. There is some dispute as to when, where and how the game of baseball began. One popular myth credits Civil War hero Abner Doubleday with its invention in the summer of 1839. Meanwhile, scholars attest that as early as the mid-18th century, some early variations of the game were being played in colonial Philadelphia and Massachusetts, having developed from early British folk games.  Modern baseball can be traced all the way back to September 1845, when Alexander Joy Cartwright, a volunteer firefighter and bank clerk created a new set of rules that formed the contemporary basis for the sport. Among these rules? A standardized, diamond-shaped field, foul-ball lines, and the three-strike rule. With these new rules, the popularity of the sport began to grow, and many amateur, semi-professional, and professional leagues were formed all across the United States beginning in the late 1840s through the 1860s and 70s.  Baseball in Washington County […]
March 30, 2021

Bringing a Piece of Miller House History Home

We have some exciting news! We’re pleased to announce that we’ve recently acquired a signed red-ware crock made by celebrated Hagerstown potter Peter Bell!  Born in Hagerstown, MD on June 1st, 1775, Peter Bell was the fifth of six children born to Captain Peter Bell, a German immigrant, and Elizabeth Leiter Bell. Due to the high concentration of good soil and water sources in the area, Hagerstown was a central hub for earthenware production, specifically red-ware. It was here that Peter Bell trained as a potter from a young age.  In 1802, Peter Bell purchased a half lot of land in Hagerstown (lot 91) from John Grumbaugh for the sum of three hundred pounds. Coincidentally, lot 91 is the present location of the Miller House, which was built in 1825. Upon acquiring the half lot, Bell constructed a two-story building. On the lower level, he operated his pottery business, where he sold handsome red-ware pitchers, jugs, pipe bowls, dishes, pots, mugs, and canning jars. The second floor was a living quarters for his family.  Despite running a profitable business, Peter Bell went bankrupt in 1823. This was partly due to the fact that he owed his brother Frederick a large […]
March 30, 2021

Spotlight on Jonathan Street

In honor of Black History Month, this article will focus on Hagerstown’s historic Jonathan Street Neighborhood, specifically with regards to its formation and notable historic sites. Described by author Lynn Bowman as “a story of America in miniature,” Hagerstown’s Jonathan Street Neighborhood is a historic African-American community. Although Jonathan Street existed prior to 1865, scholars agree that the Jonathan Street Neighborhood was formed after the Civil War, when African Americans were bound by segregation laws that restricted their movement and opportunities. In an effort to overcome these stringent laws, African-Americans created their own community along Jonathan Street. It was here that many historic African American owned businesses such as the Harmon Hotel thrived. The Jonathan Street Neighborhood houses many historic sites including the home sites of the Moxley brother’s and Jacob Wheaton, the first Black man to vote in the state of Maryland. An important site was the Harmon Hotel. Built at the turn of the twentieth century and situated at 226 N. Jonathan Street, the Harmon Hotel was owned by well-known African-Americanentrepreneur Walter Harmon. During the segregation era, the Harmon Hotel was the only place for visiting African-Americans to stay in Hagerstown. It was at the Harmon Hotel that […]
January 28, 2021

Hie on up to Braddock Heights

Close your eyes. Think about your favorite summer activity. Does your picture-perfect summer day include a trip to the shore? How about a visit to your local amusement park? Perhaps it includes a dip in your community pool, or, heck, maybe even a visit to the bowling alley or roller rink? From the late nineteenth until the middle of the twentieth century, Western Marylander’s could go for a swim in their community pool, spend a day at a small amusement park, or go to a local rolling rink or bowling alley. Or, you know, they could just hop on the trolley, “Hie on up to Braddock” and spend a fun-filled summer day at scenic Braddock Heights, where they could do all that, and more. Founded in 1896 and situated atop Catoctin Mountain in Frederick County, MD, Braddock Heights was named for its use as a mountain pass by British General Edward Braddock during the Seven Years War. Today a quiet, picturesque unincorporated community, Braddock Heights was once home to a bustling summer resort community that included an amusement park, community pool, scenic overlook, ski resort, and the oldest roller rink in the United States. With all its amenities and attractions, […]