News Column

Your perfect day could be a journey into the past

May 30, 2014

By Danielle E. Gaines, The Frederick News-Post, Md.

May 30--Welcome, history buff. Whether it's walking in the footsteps of Civil War surgeons or staying in a suite inspired by your favorite president, Frederick County has got you covered.

More than a dozen indoor museums can provide a relaxing day whether you're trying to escape frigid flurries or oppressive summer heat.

Hessian Barracks and Bjorlee Museum

To travel through America's history, visit the grounds of the Maryland School for the Deaf, home to the Hessian Barracks and Bjorlee Museum.

The barracks were originally built in 1777 for the Maryland Militia, which formed to help fight the British in the Revolutionary War. The buildings became detention centers for Hessian soldiers from Germany, who fought for the British.

Two of the stone barracks were built, but one was demolished about 100 years later, in the 1870s.

Plaques at the site commemorate the city's ties to the historic Lewis and Clark expedition. Meriwether Lewis traveled through Frederick in 1803 on his way to the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry to get weapons for his exploration of the land of the Louisiana Purchase.

More British prisoners were held in the barracks during the War of 1812.

In the Civil War, the barracks became U.S. Army Hospital No. 1. The buildings were used as offices for the medical staff and as storage for medical equipment. Soldiers were treated in tents on the grounds.

The Maryland School for the Deaf opened its doors with 34 students in September of 1868 in the barracks.

The Bjorlee Museum collection began in 1872 and includes the original leather-bound register of MSD's first class in 1868, a two-story-high weather vane from a former school building, and a set of wooden hands, carved by a student in 1912, representing the American Sign Language alphabet.

National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Ever wondered what life was like for the soldiers wounded in the deadliest war in American history?

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine documents everything from soldiers' rations to medical interventions that stemmed the death rate.

The downtown Frederick museum contains five galleries, more than 1,200 artifacts and a gift shop and research facility.

It is housed in the Carty Building at 48 E. Patrick St., which was once used by James Whitehill for his undertaking business.

Exhibits educate visitors about recruiting, camp life, medical evacuation, field hospitals, pavilion hospitals and the home front during the war.

Highlights include a Confederate ambulance, a 19th-century holding coffin, stretchers, amputation kits, uniforms of medical personnel, and numerous other medical and surgical items.

One of the newer displays at the museum is the video "Faces of Civil War Medicine," featuring images and descriptions of surgeons, assistant surgeons, nurses, hospital stewards, ambulance drivers, wounded soldiers, and civilians.

Get an inside scoop on that display and more of the museum's artifacts by following the curator's blog:

Museum of Frederick County History

The museum at 24 E. Church St. has been newly renovated to tell the story of Frederick County's history through the voices of former residents.

"Local Voices, National Stories" traces the county's history from its earliest Paleo-Indian inhabitants through the Cold War.

The exhibit is broken up into three sections: work, struggle, and leisure.

Providing a common thread throughout the new exhibit are quotations from Frederick County resident Jacob Engelbrecht, who kept a hand-bound diary of life in the area from 1819 to 1878.

The historical society, which was formed in 1892, owns a collection of more than 8,000 3-D items and tens of thousands of documents and photos.

Artifacts on display in the exhibit include a Civil War ID tag from 1864 and a 1950s desk where telephone operators worked until 1983 in an office on E. Patrick Street In the center of the "cordboard" is a connection called "Presidential" for the line to Camp David.

A new rotating gallery, "Huzza for Liberty!" will include information about the county as a homefront during the Civil War. As part of that exhibit, the ransom papers for the city of Frederick will be on display for the first time in several years.

Camp David Museum

There's one place in Frederick County where you can get it all: food, drink, history, sleep.

The Camp David Museum is nestled within the Cozy Village in Thurmont.

The museum includes pictures and memorabilia of presidents from Hoover to Obama. Artifacts in the museum have been given to The Cozy since 1929 by members of the media, presidential staff and foreign dignitaries.

It's the only museum of Camp David history in the nation and also features a souvenir shop.

In addition to the rich history, Cozy Village offers food and drink in its signature restaurant and a country inn featuring themed rooms and suites named after news outlets and heads of state, so after a long day of pondering Frederick County history, you can hit the hay in the Churchill Cottage or the Kennedy Suite.

Hessian Barracks and Bjorlee Museum

101 Clarke Place, Frederick


National Museum of Civil War Medicine

48 E. Patrick St., Frederick

Tickets: $8.50 to $9.50. Free for children younger than 9.


Museum of Frederick County History

24 E. Church St., Frederick

Tickets: $3 to $6. Free for children younger than 12. Joint tickets with a Taney House tour are available for $7.


Camp David Museum

103 Frederick Road, Thurmont



Firestone's Culinary Tavern

A vintage tin ceiling and mahogany bar are features of this downtown neighborhood eatery.

105 N. Market St., Frederick


The Cellar Door

A cozy downstairs bistro and restaurant just off Market Street.

5 E. Church St., Frederick


Brewer's Alley

Craft beer and regional cuisine served in Frederick's old Opera House building.

124 N. Market St., Frederick


Cozy Restaurant and Cozy Tea Room

Traditional country dining and buffets in 11 uniquely decorated rooms.

103 Frederick Road, Thurmont



Emporium Antiques

112 E. Patrick St., Frederick

More than 100 dealers offering antiques and vintage furnishings.


Great Stuff by Paul

Unique items from around the world, many more than a century old.

257 E. 6th St., Frederick


Wonder Book and Video

Used books, rare collectibles and publishers' overstocks, as well as music, movies, video games and more.

1306 W. Patrick St., Frederick


Old Glory Antique Marketplace

100+ dealers under one roof offering everything from primitives to elegant collectibles.

5862 Urbana Pike, Frederick


Cannon Hill Place Antiques

"Urban American goods at vintage prices" housed in a historic granary built more than 200 years ago.

111 S. Carroll St., Frederick



Bell and History Day

Annual event is held each spring as the unofficial start of the Frederick County museum season.

Museums by Candlelight Tour

Visitors experience historical county sites, decorated for the holidays and featuring special activities, by candlelight.

The event, held in December, marks the informal end to the visiting season for county museums.

Dozens of museums take part in both festivals.


(c)2014 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.)

Visit The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Frederick News-Post (MD)

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters