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Museum, Hager House call City Park home

September 24, 2006

Hagerstown City Park has many features for play, relaxation and learning. It is only a few blocks from downtown Hagerstown and minutes from local highways.

The fish, ducks and geese that make the lake their home are a favorite with youngsters and tend to be the subject of photographers and other artists who visit the picturesque park.

Some park locales also have historic significance to the city and beyond.

At the side of City Park is Jonathan Hager's first home in Western Maryland.

The Jonathan Hager House preserves the history not only of Hager and his family, but also the 18th-century German culture he brought to the area.

Hager bought 200 acres of land, including the present park, in 1739. He designed the house as a dwelling and a fort against possible Indian attacks. It was built on top of two freshwater springs in 1739.

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During the Civil War, Robert E. Lee established field headquarters in the Mansion House on the rear hill.

City officials purchased 50 acres of the land formerly known as Heyser's Woods for the citizens of Hagerstown in 1915. The "Heyser Walk" trail winds around the lake and goes up near the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. The paved pathways lead past picnic tables and benches amid tall weeping willows.

The Hager House is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission for adults is $3; seniors, $2; ages 6 to 12, $1; those younger than 6, free.

Behind the Hager House is a one-room museum that holds artifacts found during the renovation of the Hager House in 1962.

A band shell is another feature of the park. Four pavilions can be rented for family picnics and other functions.

For years, from June through August, the band shell has hosted gospel concerts on Wednesday evenings and Hagerstown Municipal Band performances on Sunday evenings.

The Hagerstown Railroad Museum also is at City Park. A rare steam engine and cabooses are open for tours.

The train museum is open from May to September. Its hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.

Rental costs

The cost to reserve the band shell at Hagerstown City Park is $10 for nonprofit organizations, $50 for all others.

The park has four pavilions, which can be reserved for $50 for city residents and $70 for noncity residents.

A softball field costs an extra $15.

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