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TV restoration show to feature four area Civil War houses

November 10, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

Four Civil War-era homes in Washington County will be featured on the cable television show "Restore America With Bob Vila."

At the center of the show is the home used as the headquarters of Union Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside after the Battle of Antietam. The house is owned by Dennis and Sylvia Frye.

The 2 1/2- story home on Mills Road, about four miles from Sharpsburg, was built in 1845, said Dennis Frye, a local historian.

Frye was intrigued by the home's Civil War history when he bought it 10 years ago.

Burnside moved into the house and his 9th Corps camped on the property for 10 days before they left for the Pleasant Valley area, he said.

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At that time, the house belonged to Raleigh Showman, who was probably staying in Sharpsburg with the family of his wife, the former Elizabeth Piper, when the troops came through.

The house is about 70 percent restored.

"My goal is to be sensitive to the historic fabric of the house and return it to its mid-19th century splendor," he said.

One of the craftspeople working on his house, David Gibney, had suggested it for the show.

"It's extremely exciting. What an honor," said Frye, the former chief interpreter of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the former executive director of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites.

A crew from Home & Garden Television taped parts of the show this week at the house. They interviewed Gibney and local historic preservationist Paula Reed.

Frye was told the show will air in March 2000.

A spokeswoman for HGTV could not be reached for comment.

The three other homes to be featured are:

- Pry Mill near Keedysville owned by Todd Hershey.

- A house at 109 W. Main St., Sharpsburg, owned by Sidney and Marian Gale.

- A house on the battlefield owned by the Fairbourn family.

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