Plumb Grove expansion plans go forward


CLEAR SPRING - A generous donation has spurred the start of long-planned additions to the historic Plumb Grove property in Clear Spring.

Members of the Clear Spring District Historical Association, which owns the Plumb Grove mansion and surrounding property, for years have wanted to reconstruct outbuildings like those that once graced the working farm, said David Wiles, president of the association.

Association members Allen and Betty Clopper of Hagerstown in April pledged a $10,000 donation to help make those plans a reality, Wiles said.


Allen Clopper grew up down the street from Plumb Grove, he said. He remembers when farmers worked the 171-year-old property, which fell into disrepair before the historical association acquired it more than 20 years ago, Clopper said.

He and his wife wanted to help preserve a piece of county history, he said.

"I guess you don't find many homesteads that old that have gone from ruins to museum quality," Clopper said.

The Cloppers' contribution - to be disbursed through the Community Foundation of Washington County - brings funds raised for the outbuilding project to $55,000, Wiles said.

The historical association recently signed a $26,175 contract with Mark Myers of LeRoy Myers masonry contractors to construct a 24-by-40-foot carriage building at the rear of the property, Wiles said.

The building will house the Conestoga wagon, Clear Spring-made Maryland Bicentennial wagon and sleighs, old farming tools, anvils, work benches, dung sled and other agriculture-related items that generous members have donated over the years, Wiles said.

The carriage house should be finished in late July, said association member Cedric Poole, chairman of the outbuilding committee.

The historical association dreams next of building a two-story brick summer kitchen, which would not be attached to the main house. Plumb Grove's original summer kitchen burned down decades ago, Wiles said.

The working kitchen - construction of which would cost about $45,000 - could be used to demonstrate hearth cooking and display cookery items of the 18th century, Wiles said.

A smokehouse and chicken house are also included in the historical association's master plan for Plumb Grove, he said.

But more donations are needed before the outbuilding project can move beyond construction of the carriage house.

The summer kitchen, smokehouse and chicken house "can only materialize if (historical association) members and others in the community have it in their hearts to give," Wiles wrote in the historical association's April newsletter.

The brick home built in 1831 by Jonathan Nesbitt II and his wife, Ann, will likely be included on the National Register of Historic Homes within the next year, Wiles said.The mansion is featured in the Civil War movie "Gods and Generals," which is tentatively slated to hit the big screen this fall. Plumb Grove last October was transformed for the film into the Maine home of Gen. Joshua and Mrs. Fannie Chamberlain, portrayed by actors Jeff Daniels and Mira Sorvino.

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