Civil War meeting was 'greatest ever'

April 29, 1997


Staff Writer

The Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites' four-day annual conference was a success for the nonprofit group and could bode well for local tourism efforts, association officials said Monday.

Association President Dennis Frye described the conference as "the greatest Civil War convention ever."

Nearly 700 people from 40 states attended the "Til the Sun Goes Down" conference at Four Points Hotel on the Dual Highway from Thursday to Sunday, Frye said.

"I doubt there's been any convention held in Hagerstown that has attracted that kind of national appeal," he said.

The association raised about $130,000 on Saturday after an anonymous donor offered $50,000 if it were matched that day, said City Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein, a member of the association's board of directors and its treasurer.


The audience raised about $80,000 for the match, she said.

The money could go toward the purchase of 12 acres of farmland off Sharpsburg Pike near Antietam National Battlefield, officials said. The association has a three-month option to buy the property.

Association officials will follow up on other potential contributions from contacts made at the conference, which made an undetermined profit, Frye said.

The conference included education sessions with more than 30 speakers, field sessions at Civil War sites and the association's 10th anniversary banquet.

The conference could help boost the city as a Civil War tourism destination, Saum-Wicklein said.

"We want these people to come back," she said.

Frye said he believes "these people had such a high-quality experience that not only will they return, but they will encourage their friends to come to Hagerstown."

When association officials agreed in 1995 to move the organization's headquarters to Hagerstown, part of the deal with the city was that the annual conference would be held here once every five years, Saum-Wicklein said.

She said that in light of this conference's succcess, she would like to see it held here even more often.

Next year's conference will be in Lexington, Ky.

The conference could bring some new businesses to the Hub City, Saum-Wicklein said.

"We are moving right along in our quest for additional business opportunities for downtown," she said.

Officials with one business plan to return to Hagerstown in May for more information, and city officials will follow up on other possibilities, she said.

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