With the (Rohrersville) band

Band hall dates to early 20th century

Band hall dates to early 20th century

October 10, 2009|By PAT SCHOOLEY / Special to The Herald-Mail
(Page 2 of 2)

The band practiced at the Rohrersville School at the corner of Main Street and Pig Alley and in the room over H.B. Rohrer's store. They needed a hall of their own. When McCoy's widow died in 1914, the band saw an opportunity. The band purchased the McCoy property for $817.50. Thomas Smith, McCoy's grandson-in-law, had already moved the marble works across the street to his property, a business that continued into the 1930s. The lot was divided, and the house and back lot were sold to Paul M. Haynes and his wife Ethel, who was McCoy's great-granddaughter.

Band records were kept but were short and often incomplete. No minutes are available from 1915 to 1918, perhaps because band members were too busy building the band hall to keep them. Since several members were masons, it's presumed that they did much of the work on the hall themselves. No cost for the hall was recorded.


The hall then became a source of income, being rented out as Election Voting Precinct No. 8 in 1916 as well as being used for the band fair and for concerts at which they charged admission. Excess materials from the construction were sold as well. A treasurer's report lists bricks that were sold for a penny apiece.

Minutes show that the band members decided to dig a well in the basement of the building, probably to provide water for the kitchen facilities in the basement, but for some reason this was never done and the hall still is without water. At times, the band paid for music instructions for young men who needed them and mentored members in other ways.

Changes over time

The band constitution has been rewritten several times. Early on, the fines were omitted. Then the band incorporated in 1894 and revised this incorporation in 1915 to allow the band to own real estate. Women members were first admitted in 1940, after attending rehearsals for a year or so as most new members did. Band participation is voluntary.

Members often remain active for their lifetimes, held together by camaraderie and a love of music. Perhaps the longest tenure in the band is that of 84-year-old Richard Haynes, who started his apprenticeship in 1938, served as band director from 1960 until 2004 and cared enough about the band to lovingly go through all the records available and gather together its history in a book called, "And the Band Plays On "

During the 19th century, Rohrersville had stores scattered along Main street: a blacksmith's shop; J. V. Rohrer's store which dealt in fancy dry goods, boots, shoes, hats, caps, groceries, queensware, hardware, glass, drugs, medicine, paints, oils and dye stuffs; a grist mill at the north end of town; a doctor's office; and the marble works. These businesses have disappeared, victims of the economy of scale and better transportation.

But the Rohrersville Cornet Band continues, a unifying thread in the community. Still playing about 20 concerts a year, still marching in the Sharpsburg Memorial Day parade after more than a century, still helping train young musicians, still having fun. It is the longest continuously serving community band in Maryland.

Band membership has ebbed and flowed over the years. Presently about 32 members meet Tuesday evenings for practice under Holly Feather, who is the director. Five or six trumpets, three or four trombones and bases, two French horns, five or six saxophones, two piccolo flutes and four percussionists prepare for the next Rohrersville Band event.

For more than 170 years, they managed to nurture young talent, raise money, build a hall and provide music to their community.

This history of the band is based on Richard Haynes' recently published book "And the Band Plays on "

For more information on the Rohrersville Cornet Band, go to

Terms to know

Bay: Each space along the facade of a building defined by an opening such as door or window.

Pilaster: An architectural element, often rectangular in shape, that imitates a flattened column partially projecting from a wall.

Header brick: A brick laid with its small end toward the face of the wall.

Lintel: A horizontal structural member that supports the load over an opening such as a window or door. This member spans the opening and rests on the wall on either side.

Raised German pointing: Mortar between stones in a wall surface that is elevated to a shallow peak in order to direct water away from the joints.

Queensware: A type of white pottery dinnerware sold during the 19th century.

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