Park Service works to restore an Antietam gem

July 23, 2011|By AARON SAUNDERS |
  • K.C. Kirkman, a National Park Service exhibit specialist, explains some of the work that is being done to restore the D.R. Miller farmhouse during a tour of the property on Thursday. The farmhouse on the Antietam National Battlefield was standing at the time of the battle.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG, Md. — History buffs gathered Thursday at Antietam National Battlefield to take part in a behind-the-scenes tour of the D.R. Miller farmhouse, which was standing during the Battle of Antietam.

For one hour, a five-person team explained the restoration work and showcased pictures of what the house looked like when the Civil War battle was fought Sept. 17, 1862, and what it is expected to look like when National Park Service cultural resources staff members have completed restoration work.

"This tour gives visitors a unique behind-the-scenes look," park ranger Alan Schmidt said.

Those leading the tour noted some of the original sections of the house had to be replaced due to termite damage.

"These things take time to work on, but we think it's worth the time," exhibit specialist K.C. Kirkman said.

Those on the tour saw floors with missing sections, ripped wallpaper, damaged rooms and rotted windowsills, all part of the damage to be repaired during the effort to restore the house to what it looked like when Union and Confederate troops clashed in Miller's cornfield.

"I think it's very important to preserve historical landmarks like these," said Carol Carlisle of Rhode Island, who was visiting Antietam with her husband, Carl.

"These are our American treasures, and we need to preserve them," said Keven Walker, a cultural resource specialist for the National Park Service.

During its work, the team discovered a bayonet, a shoe, a broken pot and a toothbrush, among other things.

"I was impressed with the young people giving the tour," Carl Carlisle said. "To do this type of work and display this type of knowledge about it is wonderful."

"Overall, the tour was just fascinating," Carol Carlisle said.

The first phase of an exterior restoration project at the D.R. Miller farmhouse, which was built between 1790 and 1800, began in 2009, according to published accounts. The work is expected to take about two more years.

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