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House being restored to circa 1862 condition

September 14, 2000

House being restored to circa 1862 condition



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


SHARPSBURG - What was once a dilapidated house surrounded by abandoned cars could become an example of historic restoration and a popular tourism spot.

Civil War enthusiast William F. Chaney plans to open a Civil War museum and gift shop in a historic home east of Sharpsburg by early spring 2001.

Chaney is restoring the circa 1790s house at 18422 Shepherdstown Pike to the way it would have looked in September 1862 during the Battle of Antietam.

Instead of housing a hospital, as it did during the war, the house will become home to artifacts such as a sword once presented to Union Gen. George McClellan and a letter from Confederate Gen. Jubal Early, according to Chaney.

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Chaney is running into some opposition over a gift shop he wants to open in the house because Sharpsburg and Save Historic Antietam Foundation officials oppose commercial development on Antietam National Battlefield.

The two-story white house is part of a 101-acre property known as the Newcomer Farm, which crosses Md. 34 east of Sharpsburg. The house is on the north side of Md. 34 within the legislative boundaries of the battlefield, but is not on the core of the battlefield, Battlefield Superintendent John Howard said.

Civil War troops moved across the site and probably skirmished there, Howard said.

Union Army soldiers fired artillery at the Confederates from the property, according to a letter Chaney wrote to the Washington County permits office.

The house also once served as headquarters for Union Gen. George Sykes, he said.

"The restoration of the house is one of the finest I have ever seen," Howard said of Architect Eleanor Lakin's design.

The structure is a log house with beaded board siding that has its original moldings and windows, Lakin said. The original structure dates back to around 1790 and has a rear addition that was built around 1830.

The museum and gift shop would be on the first floor.

Historic documents Chaney would display include letters from generals and soldiers from both armies, according to Chaney's letter.

He also plans to have uniforms, engravings, weapons, paintings, prints and maps on display.

The gift shop would sell books, maps, prints, educational materials, reproductions of historical documents and other historical memorabilia, according to Chaney's letter.

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