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'It's part of our heritage'

May 15, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Five-year-old Evan Bowman helped his mother plant flowers in the pots in front of his family's 19th-century brick farmhouse. "Aren't they pretty?" he asks.

Evan, his little brother, Ryan, baby sister, Julia, and their parents, Tracey and Todd Bowman, have lived at the William Hagerman Farmstead, close to the C&O Canal and Potomac River, since October.

The home - and it indeed is a home - will be on the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May, 17.

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From April 26 through May 18, the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage has opened homes in seven counties.

The pilgrimage organization formed in 1930 as a committee of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland. Its purpose continues to be the preservation and restoration of architecturally and historically significant properties in Maryland.

The event includes Washington County homes roughly every 5 years.

The nine Washington County homes all were built in the 18th or 19th centuries. Appropriately, all proceeds for Saturday's tour in Washington County will be used for restoration work at Miller House, headquarters of Washington County Historical Society in Hagerstown.

The Bowmans showed a different house on the 1998 tour. They had restored Honeyfield, an 1825 house by Kemps Mill, near Williamsport. They also restored Woburn Manor, a half mile away and No. 8 on this year's pilgrimage.

"I've always had a love of old houses, says Tracey Bowman. "I always pictured myself living in an old house, but not necessarily living through the renovation," she laughs.

Being on the tour has given them the "motivation to get things done," Todd Bowman says.

Although not as neglected as Woburn, the current home needed work. Bowman had all the brick repointed and a new roof put on. "It never had a heating system," Todd Bowman says. And there only was a basement bathroom. The attic has been partitioned and finished. Tracey Bowman has an office; the boys have a playroom.

The brick home has a more relaxed atmosphere than the more elegant Woburn Manor they sold in March 2002. It suits her young family better, Tracey Bowman says. They plan to stay.

Caroline Wright and Carol Urner are co-chairwomen of this year's Washington County pilgrimage, as they were for the previous local tour in 1998.

The pilgrimage hasn't been held in the southern part of the county before, Wright says. Committee members have been working on the weekend for about two years. Because tickets can be purchased at the homes the day of the tour, Wright doesn't know how many "pilgrims" will make the trip. She estimates 400 to 500, many coming from other areas. Since people from out of town tend to start at the homes at the tour's beginning or end, Wright suggests that area residents might want to start in the middle of the tour.

In the middle, they'll find Doub Farms, 268 acres of rolling meadows with mountain views just off Md. 34 in Keedysville.

"Everyone mows," laughs Bill Doub, who along with his wife, Mary Graham Doub, lives in the stone house built in 1787 on Doub Farms.

The couple bought the house in 1976 and has photos of the "total wreck" it was when they purchased it. The 18th-century section of the house had six rooms. It was enlarged with a fieldstone addition about 160 years ago. The Doubs added a modern stucco addition in 1976.

The home is elegantly furnished with antiques and family portraits, including a painting of ancestor Albert A. Doub, born in 1921, who served as the first Circuit Court judge for Allegheny, Garrett and Washington counties.

A short distance across the fields is the brick farmhouse where John Doub, Bill Doub's great-great-grandfather, lived. His son, Peyton Doub, now lives there.

"We've never sold an acre," Bill Doub says. The views are the best part of the farm, says Mary Graham Doub.

The couple has a retirement home in Florida. It's nice, but Bill Doub says he wouldn't live there. It's got nothing on Doub Farms.

And Todd Bowman, a member of the Washington County Historical Society's board of directors, wants to keep it that way.

Preserving the county's historical homes is absolutely important, he says.

"It's certainly a part of our heritage."

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