Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

February 28, 2008

Frostburg lives with its history

When the Frostburg Historic District was established more than 30 years ago, we were told that owners of properties within the district would have the advantage of receiving tax credits and being eligible for grant money, provided that they met the criteria for historic structures.

Some sites, like Stonehenge, are considered historic because of their age. But the oldest structure we have in Frostburg is a section of hand-hewn logs, once the front of a cabin on Josiah Frost's New Hope farm.

Was he living there in 1783, when he paid taxes for horses and cows? Was Meshach Frost born there in 1788? We only know that the wall must have been built before Josiah Frost acquired the sawmill he mentioned in his will of 1811: No one with access to a water-power saw would shape timbers with a hand-axe.

The house behind that log wall does not qualify for any kind of grant. Over two centuries, a series of tenants have added rooms on both ends, a staircase to replace the ladder that once led to the loft, running water and electric light, and a basement lined with cinder block. But the hand-hewn log wall deserves a place in our museum, an irreplaceable piece of our town's history.

Buildings do not have to be old to be considered historic. Any structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, for instance, would be eligible for preservation funding. But, with few exceptions, buildings in Frostburg were built without the help of an architect.

The owner and his contractor drew up a sketch of their project, and left details, like the shape of the veranda pillars, to be settled by what Mr. Willison had available in his lumber yard.

Home are considered historic if someone famous was born, or lived, or died on the premises. ("George Washington slept here.'') Actually, George did sleep here - but he was camping somewhere along Georges Creek and he left no marker to identify the spot.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
  • Happy 200th to St. Paul's Lutheran congregation Today is the 200th birthday of the Lutheran congregation in Frostburg!

    On Aug. 14, 1808, 24 people joined in a communion service in the New Church, a log structure on the edge of what is now called the Prichard Farm.

    August 14, 2008

  • Quality, attitude of people make 'Burg special A note in the newspaper a week or so ago mentioned that Oprah Winfrey was looking for "the best small towns in America.'' Frostburg is the best one I know of - but unfortunately Oprah asked for photos or videos supporting the nomination.

    August 7, 2008

  • There's always something new under the sun! The popular press has been devoting a good bit of space in recent weeks to the new swimsuit, introduced by Speedo, which supposedly has contributed to the record-breaking times posted in the Olympic tryouts.

    July 24, 2008

  • Ward and his mansion stand proud in 'Burg I've had questions recently - not for the first time! - about William Ward and the house he built at 73 W. Main St. here in Frostburg.

    July 17, 2008

  • July 4th: Finding our beliefs Independence Day, like Christmas, is one of the few national holidays that has not been moved to Monday, to provide a four-day break for working people. It holds its own as the Fourth of July.

    July 3, 2008

  • Berry-picking brings back many memories Last week I went to Wiley Ford to pick strawberries. I came home with enough for several packets of frozen berries, for three jars of strawberry jam, generous spoonfuls of fruit on my breakfast cereal and shortcake with real whipped cream.

    June 26, 2008

  • Ambulance service has key community role The Frostburg Area Ambulance Service is currently asking for our help in raising money for the protective clothing that new government regulations require.

    June 19, 2008

  • Planet continues to change; Big One on horizon? In a year that is not yet half over, 2008 has already written itself into the record books for extremes of hot and cold, rain and drought, tornadoes and floods and earthquakes. Our planet Earth has been in a constant state of change.

    June 12, 2008

  • In tennis, individuals face each other as equals I'm not a sports person, but I like to watch tennis. During the three big summer tournaments - Paris, London and New York, played on three different surfaces - my TV is on, and I check the newspaper for details that I have missed.

    June 5, 2008

  • Arts are obviously alive in Allegany County Last week I had the pleasure of attending the spring concert of the Allegany Community Symphony Orchestra. The program was free, and nicely varied, and the instrumentalists were competent.

    May 29, 2008

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