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Preservation group to buy Cearfoss site

July 14, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

A nonprofit historical preservation and education organization has switched its planned site purchases but has expanded its goals to subjects broader than the Civil War, Rick Lank, president of Forest Glen Commonwealth, said Tuesday.

"We are planning to tell a bigger story," Lank said.

Forest Glen Commonwealth, a Kensington, Md.-based group, was considering buying a piece of land off Gapland Road in southern Washington County that includes a farmhouse and barn that once served as a Civil War field hospital. The group wanted to preserve the site as an educational center where students could come to experience hands-on learning about the history of their county and nation during the Civil War.

Working with the group, a class of North Hagerstown High School students wrote, acted, produced and edited an 11-minute documentary, "The Gapland Legacy Project," about the aftermath of a local Civil War battle skirmish.

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Since the film was shown in December 2003, the nonprofit group has decided to switch properties and has a contract to purchase a former schoolhouse in Cearfoss at the intersection of Greencastle and Cearfoss pikes.

The proposed Cearfoss Heritage Education Center would be on the trail where Confederate Gen. John Imboden led 13,000 wounded soldiers retreating from Gettysburg, Pa., in July 1863, Chairwoman Rebecca L. Rush said.

Among those working with the historical group on the project is Richard Imboden of Silver Spring, Md., who is the general's great-great-great grandson.

The group plans to lead an interpretive driving tour retracing Imboden's trail after Gettysburg.

The group has an educational partnership with the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Md., a partnership with the U.S. Library of Congress and its Veterans Oral History project.

The Forest Glen Commonwealth also plans to continue working with local public and private schools.

The group is holding a free educational event Aug. 14 and 15 on the grounds of the Western Maryland Hospital Center in Hagerstown that will include a Civil War encampment, a re-enactment of a Civil War field hospital and a presentation on how emergency response works in the present.

Among those who will be at the event is Imboden, dressed in full costume like his famous relative, as well as one person dressed as former President Ulysses S. Grant, Lank said.

While the group's Cearfoss site has a Civil War connection, the educational facility being planned would encompass broader historical subjects, such as how health care has changed since the Civil War, he said.

Organizers say that anyone wanting information about the group or the event can call 301-588-6503.

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