Wilson Store to stay open

antiques to be auctioned

July 06, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE
  • Wilson Store regulars Glenn Younker, Earl Sprecher and Ed Hose relax Wednesday in the Clear Spring country store. Antique items owned by the Horst family that once adorned the store will be auctioned in August. The remaining antiques are for decoration and not for sale, according to store owners Bonnie Mills and Patty Barnhart.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,

CLEAR SPRING -- Many of the antique toys and collectibles that have been on display for years in Wilson Store, near Conococheague Creek east of Clear Spring, will be auctioned in early August, but the store will remain open.

Information about the August auctions for items from the store and the Wilson house next door went online in mid-June, causing some confusion among store customers who thought the store was closing, said Patty Barnhart. Barnhart and her sister, Bonnie Mills, are proprietors of the general store business and the home- decor business upstairs, Bittersweet Memories, which also will remain open.

"They're upset that they think the store is closed and the property is being sold," Barnhart said.

Barnhart said the owner of the property, Frances Horst, does not plan to sell the property or close the store.

While many of the antique toys and collectibles have been removed from the store for the auction, the store still has many antiques remaining, Barnhart said.


The pot-bellied stove customers see when they first enter the store and the antique cash register that requires winding will not be auctioned, the sisters said.

In addition to the store items, furnishings from the house will be auctioned, said Brad Elwood, owner of Elwood's Auctioneering in Hagerstown.

Among the auction highlights are a Conestoga wagon, a Rowe Park carousel horse and horse-drawn sleighs, Elwood said.

Rowe Park was an amusement park that operated near Wilson Bridge from the 1920s to 1960s, said David Wiles, president of the Clear Spring District Historical Association. In addition to the carousel, the park had a roller coaster, boxing, dancing, theater, swimming in the creek, and music by country music performers such as Little Jimmy Dickens, Wiles said.

Elwood said he's already gotten interest in the auctions from people in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Texas.

"This will be a big sale," he said.

Toys, primitives and historic collectibles from the store will be auctioned Aug. 6, Elwood said. The contents of the home will be auctioned Aug. 7, he said. Both auctions begin at 10 a.m. at the Wilson complex.

The Wilson properties, which include a historic one-room schoolhouse, are a local landmark. In addition to their historic nature, the annual National Pike Festival's wagon train stops at the store in the spring.

Frances Horst and the now-deceased Lewis Horst bought the Wilson Village in 1983 to restore it, according to a store flier.

A representative for the Horst family would not comment about the auctions.

The Horsts bought the brick schoolhouse and its .88-acre site from Washington County in 1985 for $1, according to Herald-Mail archives. County officials at the time were interested in the couple's plans to restore the building and open it to the public. Under the deal, the Horsts must return the schoolhouse to the county if they ever decide to stop using it for historic purposes.

The schoolhouse and its contents are not included in the auction, Elwood said.

The auction of the store and house items does not violate the county agreement, County Administrator Greg Murray said. If the schoolhouse was converted to another use, county officials would have to review the issue, he said.

The schoolhouse and the Wilson complex, which includes the house and store, are on the National Register of Historic Places, said Peter Kurtze, national register administrator for the Maryland Historical Trust.

In 1860, storekeeper Rufus Wilson decided to build a school for his son and the neighborhood children, according to Herald-Mail archives.

Barnhart said tours of the schoolhouse are available by appointment, for a fee. Local schools still occasionally use the schoolhouse, either to tour it or to hold school there for a day, she said.

Students dress up in period clothing and write on slate boards, she said.

Barnhart and Mills have occasionally opened the Wilson house for open houses or tours, but will no longer do so, they said.

The house has been used at times as a bed and breakfast, according to Herald-Mail archives.

o To see the auction listings, go to

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