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Boonsboro's hotels have long, rich history

February 23, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

BOONSBORO - The Boone Hotel, built a few years after Boonsboro was founded in 1792, was the first stone building built in the town.

Doug Bast, local historian and owner of Bast Furniture in Boonsboro, said the hotel dates to between 1798 and 1805.

Initially known as the Eagle Hotel, it had a number of names and purposes through the years.

"Patrick Conn was the first proprietor of the Eagle Hotel in 1798," Bast said Friday. Since Conn was Boonsboro's first postmaster, the hotel served as the post office beginning in 1801.

Bast said the hotel began to get busy in 1810 after much-needed repairs were made on what was known then as the Bank Road (now Alternate U.S. 40/Main Street).

Reading excerpts from Scharf's 1882 "History of Western Maryland," local historian John Frye said Friday that a man named Christian Dagenhart wrote that in 1798, there were five "houses" in Boonsboro - one of which was the Eagle Hotel.

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Renovations on the 9,000-square-foot Boone Hotel began last year after author Nora Roberts and her husband, Bruce Wilder, purchased the structure.

The couple in April 2007 said their plan was to convert the dilapidated hotel into an inn with six suites, each decorated in the style of a different romantic fictional couple.

In addition to the Boone Hotel, Roberts and Wilder, a photographer and owner of Turn the Page bookstore, purchased the former U.S. Hotel at 2 S. Main St., also on Boonsboro's Town Square.

The U.S. Hotel was built in 1813 as a private home, and later was used as a ladies' seminary and a hotel, Bast said.

During the Civil War, the U.S. Hotel was frequented by troops from the Union and Confederate armies, Bast said.

The U.S. hotel now houses Vesta, a restaurant owned by Roberts' son, Dan Aufdem-Brinke.

Bast was unsure of the Boone Hotel's role during the Civil War, but it was clearly open at the time, according to historical statements he has collected.

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