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National Register Properties

October 30, 1998

Editor's note: This is the 109th in a series of articles about the historic and architectural treasures of Washington County.




National Registry of HIstorical PlacesBy PAT SCHOOLEY

(NOTE: map is 105K)

National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's cultural resources worthy of preservation. It was authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

Listing in the register is both an honor and a recognition of the importance of a property to its community, but a listing offers no protection to that property. Any owner may do whatever he wants, including demolition. There are, however, considerable tax incentives available to those who do preserve their treasures so other generations may enjoy them.

--cont. from lifestyle--

National Register properties in Maryland are eligible for a state income tax credit of 25 percent of the value of approved restorations that cost more than $5,000 beginning Jan. 1, 1999 (it's 15 percent until then). Washington County allows a 10 percent tax credit on approved exterior work, and the federal government has a 20 percent tax credit for approved work on commercial properties. Washington County has 73 locations listed in the National Register. A description of these places follows:

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Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg Pike, Sharpsburg, listed 1966, is the scene of the bloodiest day in American history. More than 22,000 casualties were sustained when Gen. George B. McClellan's Federal forces met the Confederates under Gen. Robert E. Lee Sept. 17, 1862, near Antietam Creek outside of Sharpsburg. The battlefield covers 1,178 acres, contains parts of 11 farms with many of their original structures, and continues to be farmed as it was at the time of the battle. Historic preservation easements have been purchased on 2,507 acres of land surrounding the battlefield, and the county has created the Antietam Overlay Zones protecting about 4,000 acres. The battlefield is owned by National Park Service and is open to the public.

Brightwood, 19826 Blue Heron Lane, Hagerstown, listed 1974, is a rare 18th-century 2 1/2-story log and stone house. The main block of the house is log, two pens and a trot, with a central hall - the trot - and a ballroom to the west occupying the pen on that side. This room has two large alcoves with arches and reeded pilasters, elaborately carved chair rail and baseboard. The house is unusually large for log construction, 57 feet wide by 25 feet deep and 27 feet high. A two-story galleried portico sheltering the main entrance has a fanlight in its pediment. Fluted pilasters flank the entrance, and rope swags and reeded sunbursts decorate the frieze. Four dormers pierce the roof. An early stone wing extends to the north. This house is important because of its unusual size, early date and extraordinary Adam woodwork.

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, listed 1966, follows the southern boundary of Washington County, paralleling the Potomac River. The canal was started in 1828 and eventually ran 184.5 miles between Georgetown and Cumberland, Md. The canal ceased operation in 1924 and was acquired by the federal government in 1938. President Eisenhower declared it a national monument in 1961. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas actively promoted using the canal as a park, and, in 1971, an act of Congress authorized the acquisition of more land and the park was established. The park also includes Ferry Hill, situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac where Md. 34 crosses into West Virginia.

Elliott-Bester House, 205-207 S. Potomac St., listed 1975, is a five bay, two-story brick dwelling with a two-bay addition on the south and a four-bay ell. The front facade is laid in Flemish bond with a quarter round molded brick water table and is set on low stone foundations. The main block of the house was built before 1800. In the late 19th century, windows and frames were replaced, the two-bay wing added, and a new door opened, but the house retains much original woodwork and exterior detailing. The house was the home of Jesse Duncan Elliott, who commanded the Niagara during the Battle of Lake Erie, Sept. 10, 1813.

Fort Frederick State Park, Big Pool, listed 1974, Fort Frederick is a huge stone quadrangle with bastions projecting from each corner. The walls are 3 feet thick at the base and 17.5 feet tall. Built from 1756 to 1757 during the French and Indian War to defend against attacks, it was used as a military prison during the Revolution and again garrisoned during the Civil War. The fort never was attacked. The curtain walls and bastions of the fort have been restored and barracks reconstructed following archaeological examination. The park is open daily.

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