Historical Society prepares new quarters

February 07, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG - The sign is up.

"Smithsburg Historical Society" is written on the sign and historical society members are busy turning the old town library at 20 E. Water St. into a museum.

The historical society previously was wedged into one room in Smithsburg Town Hall with additional storage and space for large items in a barn behind that building.

"We've quadrupled our space, at least," said Mike Rohrer, president of the town historical society since last February. "And we still have the barn."


The room in Town Hall has reverted back to the town and is being used by the Smithsburg Police Department, Rohrer said.

The old stone library has several rooms as well as the advantage of more wall space and the shelves that were used for books before the library moved into new quarters in Smithsburg's Veterans Park

In addition to Rohrer, the historical society officers include Preston "Toby" Law, vice president; Richard Masters, treasurer; Sari Slick Kilheffer, secretary; Betty Eichelberger, membership; Ann Stouffer and Patti Nelson, hospitality.

There also are two town liaisons with the group, which originally got its start as a town committee. Incorporated in 1986, the historical society was led for one year by Lee Townsend. He was followed by Charlie Slick, who helped increase its membership.

"Now we are working on a Web site," Rohrer said.

The society is always looking for members, especially younger members, Rohrer said. "You don't have to live in Smithsburg ... you just have to interested in Smithsburg and in history."

There are six membership meetings a year and the board meets on the alternate months. The annual dinner is in April and a holiday dinner is held in December.

"We always have a theme for each meeting," Rohrer said, noting most center around food. There is cherry cobbler in the spring, an ice cream social in August and anything that will highlight the area's long history growing fruit.

Law joined the group in the mid-1990s. "My wife and I came to Pride Days and the Heritage Room was open," he said.

Always interested in history, Law said, he really got into it as an adult.

"My brother lives in town," Law said. "We really like Smithsburg because it reminds us of our hometown in Virginia."

Eager to involve young people in history, the group, during holiday festivities, held a coloring contest that attracted 57 entrants.

"We hosted Santa on Dec. 17 and named six winners," Rohrer said.

When he was in middle school in the 1970s, Rohrer did a trifold display of Smithsburg history complete with pictures. "That started the spark for me," he said.

Slick was a teacher and his influence got Rohrer into teaching as well as history. Now Rohrer is a technology education teacher in Frederick County, Md.

The sister of longtime town historian Charlie Slick, Kilheffer said that while she has always enjoyed history, it was hard to avoid getting involved, being Charlie's sister.

"I worked it when it was still the library," when she was still in high school, she said.

Prominently located on one wall is a log cabin quilt that Kilheffer made for her brother. "Our home place was a log cabin," she said.

For the next few weeks, files and boxes are still being moved over from the barn and from 9 N. Main St., another building the group is using.

"We want to keep it but we're not sure of the purpose yet," Rohrer said. "There is a lot of visibility there."

Once the move, and work at the museum, has been completed, the hope is to have the building open three days a week and by appointment.

"Our grand opening is Feb. 19 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.," Rohrer said. "There will be refreshments and tours."

Information on joining the Smithsburg Historical Society can be obtained by calling 301-824-7154.

If you go

What: Smithsburg Historical Society Museum grand opening

When: Feb. 19, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: 20 E. Water St.

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