Rambling into the past

Museum event offers look at history

Museum event offers look at history

May 08, 2006|by KAREN HANNA


Tucked in a corner, away from cases of Chinese ceramics, Battle of Antietam artifacts and Eastern European religious icons, the collection of signatures in a Boonsboro museum's visitors book bears witness to admirers near and far.

"What a delightful surprise!" a Portland, Ore., visitor wrote in the Boonsborough Museum of History guest book Sunday.

A steady stream of people visited the museum - which is stuffed to overflowing with Civil War memorabilia, historic letters, ancient bones and other curios from the personal collection of Doug Bast - on the second day of the third-annual Washington County Museum Ramble. Historians at the Jonathan Hager House and Museum in City Park in Hagerstown also reported attendance that was greater than normal.

Bast, who has accumulated more treasures than he can display, fired off the names of ceramics makers and periods as he pointed to rows of plates and vases in the second level of his house on North Main Street.


"What happens is I see something, I think it's so beautiful, I buy it," Bast said.

Visitors to Bast's house said they were impressed with his collection that covers a little bit of everything.

"This is the place to go," said Joe Staley, a Hagerstown man who also planned to visit Discovery Station in that city's downtown.

Admission to most museums was free Saturday and Sunday as part of the event.

"I love old Colonial stuff," David Brashier, of Saint Thomas, Pa., said after he and his family toured the Hager House.

According to John Bryan, a Hager House historical interpreter, 44 people visited the 18th-century home within an hour of its opening Sunday afternoon. At the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts nearby, cars were parked in the grass and the lot was full.

Amanda Lynn of Hagerstown said that as a child on field trips she really was not interested in the Hager House.

On Sunday, she and a group of four other young adults took another look.

"We came on school field trips, and I haven't been in here since then, so I figured, 'Well, I'll come in and see what it looks like,'" Lynn, 19, said.

Amie Brashier, 14, who came with her father and family, said she really enjoyed visiting the house, which was built over two springs and featured basement fortifications against attacks by Indians.

"I liked mostly everything. I think the kitchen was cool, and the upstairs, and I really liked the water downstairs. I thought that was clever," Amie said.

For Bast, the past offers limitless objects of interest.

From Spanish cannonballs and moonshine stills to a mummified bird and bouquet made of human hair, Bast said he offers visitors a little bit of everything.

"You know, it's kind of funny, I think. People have come in and asked me, 'Is there anything you don't collect?' And I said, 'Baseball cards.' And then a man came in and gave me Babe Ruth baseball cards," Bast said.

The baseball cards were not evident in the cases accessible to the public Sunday. Upstairs, in the apartment where Bast lives, boxes of assorted collectibles littered the floor. Dozens of long guns leaned against the wall in a closet. There's no more room.

Paul Ostrinsky, who recently moved to Boonsboro, said he would like to come back again soon - when he and his wife, Havilah, have a baby-sitter for 16-month-old Spencer and more time to look around.

"It's pretty interesting, and it's amazing what's actually here," Ostrinsky said.

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