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Brown's Meeting House open as part of National Pike Festival

Brown's Meeting House open as part of National Pike Festival

When Carl and Maxine Brown purchased a house at 11 S. Mill St. in downtown Clear Spring in 1960, they didn’t know it held a secret underneath the outside sheathing.

By pulling away from the weatherboard, they unearthed what became a historical gem for the town — an 1829 log house, originally owned by Martin Myers.

It took the Browns nearly 25 years to restore and repair what was known as what they would call the Log House Museum, which they opened to the public in 1986 for tours. Their daughter, Carlene Staley, inherited the log cabin after her parents’ deaths. And in 2001, Staley donated to the Clear Spring District Historical Society, of which her parents were longtime historical society members.

Today, the log house is now known as the Brown’s Meeting House, bearing the name of the family who had donated the home. The log cabin will again be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 21, as part of the Museum Ramble. The house is opened the third Sunday of every month for regular tours.

The Clear Spring District Historical Society also will host the Friday, May 19, opening of the National Pike Festival, at Plumb Grove. The event will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and will feature tours, music by the Potato Pickers Bluegrass Band, visitors can see horses and wagons as well as dine on refreshments. The wagon train leaves Clear Spring Saturday, May 20, following the parade, which is at 9:30 a.m. The event continues with stops in Funkstown before settling Sunday, May 21, in Shafer Park in Boonsboro. 

David Wiles, president of the society, hopes lovers of history make the trek back Sunday to Clear Spring to take a tour of the two-story Brown’s Meeting House. 

“It has turned into so much more — meetings and exhibits and lectures and get-togethers,” he said. “It has been a wonderful donation to our group.”

After receiving the house, the historical society took years to revamp the house to allow for meetings as well as protecting displays by adding central air and heat. 

“We wanted a touch of the past, but we wanted to be able to use it,” he said. 

Wiles said the first-floor housing a meeting room as well as most of the displays, while the second floor is where the historical society’s officers are located.

In conjunction with the National Pike Festival, there will be an exhibit of 100 photos of Cumberland Street, the segment of U.S. 40/National Pike, that drives through Clear Spring. Wiles said the photos range from 1860 to 1960s of what life looked like in downtown Clear Spring. During the wagon train days, Clear Spring was a major stop on the way toward Hancock and stops further west. 

There is a whole room dedicated to the National Road, including research material.

Another exhibit contains a World War I exhibit, which continues to recognize the 100th anniversary of the United States entering the Great War this year. He said it has local WWI collections and stories. 

“Pound’s Bakery had oven doors that were made in Germany,” Wiles said. “A lot of the town’s residents boycotted the ovens because they didn’t want bread ‘made’ in Germany.”

Wiles said not many people may know that Clear Spring also had proving grounds, which was an area that the military would test cannons and weapons for WWI. 

“We have lots of photos of that facility,” he said. “We have a lot of local flavor in the exhibit of the war.”

Those who enjoy folk art can see the collection of miniature buildings made by Jesse Shoemaker, as well as miniature furniture made in Clear Spring. 

And to recognize the contributions of National Pike, there is an exhibit dedicated just to that.

“We have a collection of (mini) wagons and stagecoaches, which is very fitting for the weekend,” he said. 

On the first floor, there is a collection of art depicting the French and Indian War because of the museum’s close proximity to Fort Frederick in Big Pool. On the second floor is the Allan Powell French and Indian room that contains a library about the war as well as artifacts collected by Powell. 

Wiles is looking forward to the tour on Sunday because the meeting house has only been open on a regular schedule for about a year.

“Very few people have realized it’s there and the collection that it holds inside,” he said.

Wagon Schedule

Friday, May 19

5 to 8 p.m. — Overnight wagon train encampment at Plumb Grove, the intersection of North Martin Street and Broadfording Road. The public can visit the encampment.

Saturday, May 20 

9 a.m. — Wagon train departs Plumb Grove, 12654 Broadfording Road, heading east along U.S. 40 and travels toward Hagerstown

9:30 a.m. — Pike Days parade in Clear Spring

10:30 a.m. — Stop at Wilson’s Store

11:15 a.m. — Cross historic Wilson stone bridge (weather permitting) 

11:45 a.m. — Huyetts Crossroads lunch stop 

2 p.m. — City Park, Hagerstown; arrive at north end of City Park at parking lot between museum and Hager House

3:30 p.m. — Ravenwood Lutheran Village, off Kenley Avenue, Hagerstown

5:30 p.m. — Overnight encampment at Funkstown Community Park

Sunday, May 21 

10 a.m. — Wagon train departs, traveling east on Alternate U.S. 40 toward Funkstown

1:30 p.m. — Shafer Park, Boonsboro, wagon train ends

All wagon train times are approximate. Wagons are subject to unexpected delays. 

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