Medical museum will stay put

March 18, 1997


Staff Writer

Hagerstown lost out again to Frederick, Md., in the battle for the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, but may be included in the museum's expansion plans, a museum official said Monday.

The medical museum's headquarters will remain in Frederick, but museum officials are applying for grants that could help fund a field hospital with a living history exhibit in Washington County, either in Hagerstown or near Antietam National Battlefield, said Debby Moone, grant writer and management analyst for the museum.

"It's not surprising. It's disappointing," Mayor Steven T. Sager said Monday of the medical museum board's decision on Saturday to stay in Frederick. Sager had not received official word of the board's decision as of Monday afternoon.


"We will continue as part of our Crossroads of the Civil War promotion to continue to promote their Civil War Museum in Frederick," Sager said.

City officials tried to lure the museum with a promise of $600,000 to renovate the old Tristate Electrical Supply Co. Inc. building at 38 S. Potomac St. The city lost out on an initial bid for the museum last year.

The museum has international appeal, and officials already are planning future expansion, Moone said. If grant money is approved, Washington County could be home to a field hospital by the fall of 1998.

"As far as our future, we'd love to have a site in Hagerstown and work there," Moone said.

City officials knew museum officials were interested in a field hospital setting as part of their future plans, Sager said. "We will be happy to promote that as well."

Museum officials also have long-range plans for a research facility, although they haven't identified a location, Moone said.

The museum will have a living history display at the 135th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam this September, she said.

City officials took a second shot at getting the medical museum after they were told the museum had run into structural and financial problems with its 48 E. Patrick St. building in Frederick.

"I hope the City of Frederick will do what needs to be done for the medical museum to put them on solid footing," said Hagerstown City Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein.

After touring the former Tristate building on Friday, one medical museum board member said he would support the move to Hagerstown.

The Frederick building's roof leaks and the wiring is deficient, Sager has said. There are problems with the building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, he said.

Frederick Mayor James Grimes said the city will continue to support the medical museum. When museum officials put together a plan on what they need, city officials will give them serious consideration for assistance.

Except for one or two people, Grimes said the board never seriously considered moving the museum to Hagerstown.

"To me the board's position has been from day one very strong and committed to this community," said Grimes, who attended the board meeting on Saturday.

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