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Rural Heritage Museum shows how it was done

April 02, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Sally Waltz, left, a volunteer for the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum, shows Marlaina Fortman, 5, how eggs were colored in the 19th century Saturday during an open house at the museum.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — A development with almost none of the modern conveniences, the 19th-century village at the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum continues to grow, with a cobbler’s shed nearing completion and foundation work beginning on a blacksmith’s shop.

This weekend was the 11th annual spring open house for the museum at the county’s Agricultural Education Center at 7313 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro. It continues today from 1 to 4 p.m.

Visitors on Saturday stepped back in time to see Dr. Peter Fahrney’s office, the Mount Tabor United Brethren in Christ Church, and a cooking and Easter egg-decorating demonstration in the Poffenberger cabin.

The buildings are not period recreations, but were moved to the museum from Boonsboro, Sharpsburg, Beaver Creek and other locales, said Patsy Ardinger, vice president of the Friends of the Rural Heritage Museum. In addition to the cobbler and blacksmith shops being built by volunteer “senior engineers,” the museum is clearing ground for a modern building, a planned transportation museum, she said.

The county’s transportation history includes the C&O Canal, trains and early automakers, Ardinger said. One building is already crowded with carriages, freight wagons, a horse-drawn hearse, early trucks, tractors and other conveyances, alongside farm machinery and tools.

John and Kim Merson and their sons watched as Sally Waltz showed how children once decorated Easter eggs using dyes made from dandelions, cranberries and onions. Red cabbage, she explained, turns eggs purple.

In an open hearth, Waltz cooked a dinner of stew, biscuits and onion pie.

“This was the kitchen, dining room, living room and, most likely, mom and dad’s bedroom” when the cabin was built, Waltz said.

“I’ve enjoyed watching the growth of it over the years ... and bringing our heritage and our past to the kids,” said Cindi Hawfield, who lives near the museum.

“I really like how everything is preserved ... so you can see how life used to be,” said her daughter Catherine, 13.

Ilan Pinchon, 6, of Hagerstown, enjoyed making an Easter basket at the museum. His twin bother, Gareth, said he learned about the gardens of German settlers.

“Last week we picked up about 60 items” donated to the museum, said Bill Poffenberger, who is in charge of acquiring exhibits by loan or donation. New pieces include a horse-drawn reaper from the early 20th century.  

In the span of just a few years the village has taken shape due to the efforts of many volunteers, and plans for the museum’s future continue, Poffenberger said.

“All it takes is time and money,” he said, although the museum is free to the public.

If you go ...

What: Washington County Rural Heritage Museum’s 11th annual spring open house

Where: Washington County Agricultural Education Center, 7313 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro

When: Today from 1 to 4 p.m.

For more information: www.ruralheritagemuseum.org

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