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June 29, 2021

Did you see that Fairchild sports car race in ’55? We want to hear from you!

Back in October, we told you about the Fairchild National Sports Car Races that took place at the airport in 1955. If you weren’t around in ’55 — or you were, and you’d like to relive those glory days — we’re going to give you the chance this fall. Make plans now to join the Washington County Historical Society and Hagerstown Aviation Museum on Oct. 23 for a special event that will commemorate the Fairchild National Sports Car Races. In addition to a vintage car show featuring several vehicles that participated in the races, the event will include lectures, guided tours of the Fairchild Aircraft flight test hangars and factory building, and a commemorative start-stop on the historic runway. To quickly recap the event we’re celebrating, the Fairchild National was the 12th race in the 1955 SCCA National Sports Car Championship season, taking place at what was then the Hagerstown Municipal Airport on Oct. 16, 1955. It was the first event of its kind to take place in Hagerstown, and was made possible by members of the Fairchild Aircraft Employee Recreation Association. Seven individual races were run on a makeshift, 2.4 mile closed circuit track built on the airport runway. Although it wasn’t […]
June 1, 2021

Hagerstown, a History

Established in 1762 by Jonathan Hager, Hagerstown has a far more interesting history than you might realize. Starting with the early settlement period, this article will explore Hagerstown’s development as a crossroads of history and commerce. Read on to learn more. The land on which Hagerstown currently stands was originally settled by various East Coast Native American tribes, including the Susquehannock, Piscataway, Catawba, and Lenni Lenape. The first known non-Native American visitors to the Hagerstown area included land surveyors and fur traders.  By 1739, the area’s cheap, fertile land and plentiful natural resources had attracted farmers and craftsmen like the German-born Jonathan Hager, who patented a tract of land in the vicinity of present-day Hagerstown City Park called “Hager’s Fancy” from Charles Calvert, the 5th Lord Baltimore. It was here that Hager built a house that would double as a fort and trading post.  In 1762, Jonathan Hager, by now a leading citizen and French and Indian War veteran, laid out and established Elizabethtowne, named for his beloved wife, Anna Elizabeth Kirschner Hager. Elizabethtowne would be formally renamed Hagerstown in 1814.  By the mid-to-late 1760s, Jonathan Hager had acquired several thousand acres of land in the city, which he proceeded […]
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 […]