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Frederick County

Middletown

Saturday, May 6, 2023 – 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

 

Welcome to the Valley! Located in western Frederick County, the Town of Middletown, although small, has a storied history. Settled mainly by German immigrants, the Valley reflects that early American dream—the desire to worship freely, farm, and be self-sustaining. Officially the Town dates to 1767, but Middletown has welcomed travelers along the Old National Road for much longer. Tradition has it that a young Lt. George Washington was surveying the land and proclaimed it the most beautiful valley he had seen. Today, stately homes, expansive views of the valley, and enduring community spirit convert many a traveler into residents. Not only did Middletown have businesses and services to address the needs of the National Road traveler, but also the hard-working farmers that plowed the fields, raised cattle, and created a legacy of agricultural excellence. Our agricultural roots are still quite visible today. Like many Maryland communities, the Civil War was brought to the front doorsteps of our residents. Both Union and Confederate troops marched through Middletown. Camping out on nearby South Mountain, skirmishes broke out, then escalated into the Battle of South Mountain, the first Civil War battle fought on Maryland soil. The long days of farming were disrupted as injured soldiers were carried into town into makeshift hospitals, large buildings, and barns. Even future President Rutherford B. Hayes spent several weeks here recuperating in a private home. As time wore on, Middletown emerged with vim and vigor. Innovative farming led to greater production, and we had a creamery, a cannery, and even an ice cream factory that became a regional phenomenon, with presidents stopping here enroute to Shangri La (Camp David). The churches were the pillars of community events, schools were built, and the trolley came through town. With the construction of the interstate system skirting around Middletown, we have today, a remarkably high degree of historical integrity. The Town is approximately three miles in length, but manages to illustrate just about every generation of our history. We selected properties that express Middletown’s personality—the quirky outbuilding now turned to a Visitor’s Center, an early 20th century doctor’s suite and operating table, commercial buildings converted to single family homes and vice versa, two churches whose congregations are the foundations of the Middletown community, and much more. We hope you will enjoy your visit and agree with the many who say we are Maryland’s Timeless Treasure. 

 

Chair: Becky Axilbund, 19 West Main Street, Middletown, MD 21769. Email: BAxilbund@ci.middletown.md.us Work: 301-371-6171; day of event cell 410-808-2132. Co-Chair: Janet Fox.

 

Committee Chairs: Lunch: Stasa Tapia. Signage: Jim Hoover and Bernard Pond. Tour Script: Anna Liisa Van Mantgem, Kirk Denton and Becky

Axilbund. Photography: Janet Fox and Jamie Turner. Treasurer: Lacey Gordon. Volunteer Coordinators: Monica Hauser, Lacey Gordon and Becky Axilbund.

Floral Arrangements: Janet Fox and Bernard Pond. Antique Cars: Alexa Masser, Robert Burchill, and Jim Hoover.

 

Special Project: Main Street Middletown, MD Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and promoting the historic commercial district. Our project is the ongoing preservation and rehabilitation of 19 and 21 West Main Street. These buildings are distinctive for their small size and visually striking Gothic Revival trim. Most commercial properties of the era are two story, side gable buildings with living quarters upstairs and commercial space downstairs. The fact that these two very small outbuildings have been in continuous use, and not torn down illustrates a practical part of the Middletown personality that has been passed down through generations from this agricultural community to “waste not.” Main Street Middletown purchased the property with the aid of generous private donations and grant funds. The Maryland Historical Trust has placed a protective easement on the exterior of the property so its charming exterior appearance will be preserved for years to come. Main Street Middletown, MD Inc. uses the space as our office and the larger building as a welcome center and central hub for downtown activities. Funds raised will go to the capital building maintenance fund.

 

Luncheon Reservations: A delectable box lunch may be pre-purchased for pick-up at both the Christ Reformed and Zion Lutheran Churches (both on the tour) from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Indoor seating is limited. The cost is $15 per person. Please mail your check, along with your phone number, email address, and lunch selection to Becky Axilbund, 19 West Main Street, Middletown, MD 21769. Reservations are due no later than Monday, April 17, 2023. Option one: Turkey, cheddar cheese, farm fresh tomatoes from Chestnut Farm and Market, basil, bacon and 1000-Island dressing on ciabatta bread with chips, bottled water, and cookie. Option two: Ham, provolone cheese, farm fresh lettuce and tomatoes from Chestnut Farm and Market, with mayonnaise on ciabatta bread with chips, bottled water, and cookie. Visitors may also find several other dining options in Middletown, including Tapia’s on Main, 203 East Main Street, the Main Cup, 14 West Main Street, Dempsey’s Grille, 116 West Main Street, Asian Café, 7 North Street, and LDS, 201 Church Street. Early morning coffee can be enjoyed at Brew 30, 1 East Main Street, breakfast treats at Deb’s Artisan Bakery, 402 West Green Street, and afternoon treats at More Ice Cream, 13 West Main Street or Abbraccio’s Gelatto, 203 East Main Street. These are all within walking distance of the tour area.

 

Route From:

 

Washington DC: Travel up I-270 N to Frederick. Stay in the two right lanes to take Exit 32 to merge onto I-70 W towards Hagerstown. Continue on I-70 W and take Exit 49 towards Braddock Heights and Middletown. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left towards Braddock Heights and Middletown. Drive approximately 3.9 miles to the Middletown town limits and continue traveling west along Main Street approximately 1 more mile until you reach the center of town at the intersection of US-40 Alternate and MD Route 17.  At this intersection, continue straight for about a block and make a right onto Jefferson Street. This is a small one-way street between Town Hall at 31 West Main Street and the Zion Lutheran Church at 107 West Main Street. From here, make an almost immediate right into the Municipal Parking Lot. If the lot is full, refer to the map in your booklet or on our website (www.mainstreetmiddletownmd.org) to see other public parking spaces including on-street parking, lots at Zion Lutheran and Christ Reformed Churches, as well as the public lot located further west on Main Street at the intersection with Elm Street. 

 

Baltimore: Follow I-70 West to US 40 Alt in Frederick County. Take Exit 49 from I-70 W. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left towards Braddock Heights and Middletown. Drive approximately 3.9 miles to the Middletown town limits and continue traveling west along Main Street approximately 1 more mile until you reach the center of town at the intersection of US-40 Alternate and MD Rt. 17. At this intersection, continue straight for about a block and make a right onto Jefferson Street. This is a small one-way street between Town Hall at 31 West Main Street and the Zion Lutheran Church at 107 West Main Street. From here, make an almost immediate right into the Municipal Parking Lot. If the lot is full, please refer to the map in your booklet or on our website (www.mainstreetmiddletownmd .org) to see other public parking spaces including on-street parking, lots at Zion Lutheran and Christ Reformed Churches, as well as the public lot located further west on Main Street at the intersection with Elm Street. 

 

Points West of Frederick: Take I-70 East, to Exit 42 to merge onto MD-17 S toward Middletown. Travel 2.9 miles south on MD-17 until you reach the intersection of MD-17 and US-40 Alt/West Main Street. Turn right onto Main Street and continue straight for about a block and make a right onto Jefferson Street. This is a small one-way street between Town Hall at 31 West Main Street and the Zion Lutheran Church at 107 West Main Street. From here, you will make an almost immediate right into the Municipal Parking Lot. If the lot is full, please refer to the map in your booklet or on our website (www.mainstreetmiddletownmd.org) to see other public parking spaces including on-street parking, lots at Zion Lutheran and Christ Reformed Churches, as well as the public lot located further west on Main Street at the intersection with Elm Street. 

 

Event Headquarters: Located at 19 West Main Street is the newly rehabilitated Welcome Center. Please purchase day-of tickets here. We suggest you walk to our Welcome Center first which is located on the north side of Main Street, in the block between MD-17/Church Street and Jefferson Street. Public restrooms are available at Sites #5, 6, and 8.

Downtown is characterized by its rolling geography. The Tour is about 0.6 miles in length. If you prefer to drive and make several stops to limit the uphill walking, please refer to the map to see the convenient parking options available. All downtown parking is free.

 

FOLLOW PILGRIMAGE ARROWS AND SIGNS

 

Begin your tour by departing through the front doors of the Event Headquarters at 19 West Main Street. Turn right, and walk westward to the corner of Main and Jefferson Streets. Please cross the street on this corner using the large brick pedestrian road crossing for your safety and continue down Main Street to the west. Site #1 is  approximately one-third mile away, about a 6-minute stroll downhill. As you near the bottom of the hill,

Walnut Street veers to the left. Follow it to Site #1, which is two doors beyond Middletown’s oldest retail establishment, Gladhill’s Furniture Store, a local icon that has sold fine home furnishings and decor since 1915.

 

1. The Smithfield House, 16 Walnut Street, Middletown 21769. The Smithfield House has the distinction of being known as the oldest home in Middletown, with the log structure dating back to 1730. According to multiple references, the house, which is painted a warm yellow with bright white trim, was reportedly built by a gunsmith named Frank Lauber. The owners purchased the property in 2017 and have carefully restored the home as you experience it today. Architecturally, this seems to be a simple cottage—a stucco clad, one-story, side gable home with a central hall and two side rooms. However, viewing the property from the back, it reveals itself to be a two-story house that is set into the adjacent hill. This type of construction is reflective of Germanic building traditions and Middletown’s Germanic heritage. The interior of the Smithfield house is delightful, with its chestnut staircase, hand-forged locks, and decorative fireplace surrounds. The well-manicured lawn is bordered by annual plantings in the front of the house, and containers flanking the front door echo the symmetry and clean lines of the architecture. Be sure to walk to the rear of the property and view the spring house. This flattened area in which several springs flow nearby was a prime location for an early settlement house. Owners: Brian and Sheila Considine. 

 

Turn right to return up Main Street. Continue about 900 feet (or about 4 minutes) to the intersection of Main and Elm Streets. For your safety, please cross Main Street at this intersection, as it is more visible to passing traffic than other nearby crossing points. After you have crossed, turn left, then walk roughly 200 feet to Site #2.

 

2. Beckwith House, 211 West Main Street, Middletown 21769. The building is white with yellow trim and a cherry red door as well as a historic plaque about the Beckwith House. Constructed in 1867, this handsome building maintains its original storefront with a bracketed cornice on the first floor, dating from its past use as a millinery. The hipped roof features overhanging eaves with decorative brackets, and the east side of the building possesses a small cross-gable with a fanlight window. Historically known as the Beckwith House, Joshua Beckwith purchased the property in 1867 to operate a thriving millinery and notions store in the eastern half of the building. Locally famous landscape painter Marjorie Beckwith Stottlemyer was born and raised in this home. Several of her pieces will be on display in the home during the tour. The current owners have installed sculptural, rounded boxwoods in simple yet timeless black urns on the pillars in the front of the home, allowing the facade, including its decorative ironwork on its front patio, to capture attention of passersby. Mature trees in the rear provide ample shade and add softness to contrast with the straight edges and geometry of the house. Owners: Brian and Patti Wise.

 

Turn left to head back to the crosswalk at the intersection of Main and Jefferson Streets. Cross the street once more and enter into Site #3, a lovely Victorian home and former hospital with a gracious front porch.

 

3. Dr. Lamar House and Sanitarium, 200 West Main Street, Middletown 21769. This structure was noted in the 1844 local newspaper that on the property provided “hostlers, good stablins, and Bar and Table.” However, it was totally transformed in 1906 by

Dr. Lewis Lamar to create his residence, examination office, state-of-the-art

surgical suite, recovery rooms, and an outdoor rest area for patients. The operating room has floor to ceiling glazed tiles, a skylight, built-in sinks, and floor drains. Architecturally, the Lamar House echoes the large Victorian houses farther east on Main Street. A porte-cochere extends over the sidewalk, supported by Ionic columns plus a balustrade railing and a pair of jerkin-head dormers to either side of a central tower. The Lamar family lived in the left half of the structure, with the medical facilities accessed on the right. The small and narrow side garden at this property has been planted with perennials and white-edged hostas. In the rear, gerbera daisies and purple coneflowers bloom by late spring, and the back of the lawn is edged with more hostas and sedums that bloom in varying tones of pink. A decades-old lilac bush anchors the back corner near the white fence. Owners: Mark and Pam Boggs.

Turn right. Continue up Main Street for about a two minute walk to Site #4, a brick structure that is painted in a mustard tone accented with green shutters at the corner of Main and Jefferson Streets.

 

4. Stonebraker and Harbaugh-Shafer building, 100-104 West Main Street, Middletown 21769. Built  circa 1829, the Stonebraker and Harbaugh-Shafer Building, is one of Middletown’s most significant buildings. The Federal style brick building features Flemish bond on the front

facade and common bond on the other three elevations. The eastern (left part) of the building, which was originally a residence, features double front doors, each with five oval panels and a sunburst fanlight that fills the elliptical arch above the door. There are two separate commercial sections in this large building. The middle commercial section is defined by the ground floor with its fixed single pane windows on each side of the double doored entry; note the marble stoop, which has been gently worn away by countless footsteps over the years. The most western commercial section is two bays consisting of a wide window opening with a replacement sash and a single half glass-half wood doorway with a decorative festoon. The property was purchased by a retired and prosperous farmer named Peter Shafer in 1858. In July 1864, Shafer provided the ransom money to Confederate General Jubal Early to spare the town from being burned, and the upper story of the building was used to treat injured soldiers. After Shafer’s death, William Rudy purchased the building and transformed the upstairs into a large area to host stage productions and community events, becoming known as Rudy’s Hall. It has served various other uses over the years, including the town hall and on the lower level, a post office and library. The current owners have meticulously restored this property, retaining its impressive presence on our Main Street. Highlights include the verdigris room in the residence, the Civil War period safe in the commercial section, and the upstairs meeting space. Be sure to step into the garden area behind the house, which features a large dogwood, crepe myrtles, dark-green boxwoods that contrast dramatically with white irises, fragrant white clematis virginiana, and white roses. Owners: Kirk Denton and Greg Wigle.

 

Please cross the street in the crosswalk at the intersection of Main and Jefferson again, make a slight left, and venture up the stairs to enter Site #5, a magnificent, bright white Greek Revival church, Zion Lutheran, the spire of which anchors Middletown’s skyline. 

 

5. 107 West Main Street, Middletown 21769. Today we take soaring, high-rising church steeples for granted as part of the landscape. However, in 1859 when the Zion Lutheran congregation built this church, its steeple dwarfed the surrounding buildings, was visible throughout the valley, and still defines our streetscape today.  Constructed of brick with a standing seam metal roof, Greek Revival details include a large pediment on the front facade with a wide frieze band and dental molding at the cornice, all supported by four Ionic columns. The steeple clock was made by Seth Thomas and installed in 1918. This church was used extensively as a Civil War hospital in the aftermath of the Battle of South Mountain and Antietam. Be sure to save some time to wander through the church’s spectacular Reflection Garden. In spring, this abundantly planted space shows off a sea of ruby red tulips and a myriad daffodil and crocus varieties. Its red brick path meanders gently through the space, allowing you to view the soft Japanese maples and dogwoods, azaleas, and hostas. A shaded bench provides a quiet spot to retreat and enjoy nature in the middle of town. Volunteers add new plants and features to the garden every year.

 

Turn left pointing eastward toward the intersection that has a traffic light. If you did not stop in earlier, we invite you to peek into Site #6, where our new visitor center is taking shape.

 

6. Visitor Center, 19 West Main Street, Middletown 21769. The property actually consists of two separate buildings that were bridged together in the early 2000s. Purchased by Main Street Middletown, MD Inc. in 2019, the nonprofit has been working tirelessly on rehabilitating these two extraordinary “tiny jewels” of Main Street. The larger building is a one story, gable front building that once served as a harness shop. The smaller building was an outbuilding that was moved to this location sometime in the 1890s. The fact that these two petite outbuildings have been maintained and preserved along the Main Street in the middle of a commercial district is quite unique. We think it may be because eyes can’t help but notice the exaggerated Gothic Revival trim on the gable end of the larger building and the curvilinear saw-cut trim at the eave line on 21 West Main. That these finer details were added to what were essentially considered to be outbuildings raises curiosity, and one cannot resist in calling the duo “cute.” Owner: The Main Street Middletown, MD Inc. Board of Trustees.

 

Please turn to right to walk to the pedestrian crosswalk at the corner of Main and Jefferson Streets again. After you safely cross the street, turn left and walk to the 3rd building, Site #7 which features a red brick facade with a turret emblazoned with letters. Facing head on, the letter visible is “S.”

 

7. 20 West Main Street, Middletown 21769. Constructed in 1888 for the Valley Savings Bank, this brick Queen Anne building proudly served as a bank, the Middletown Post Office, until the late 1960s, and today a residence. The brick moldings, dog-tooth stringcourses, as well as the patterned slate roof exhibits a high level of detail and craftsmanship. The brickwork was laid in a common bond, and the front facade is virtually unchanged since its construction. Note the red slate lettering in the square tower indicating V-B-S for Valley Savings Bank. Inside the main room that was once a bank lobby, you will note the soaring ceiling, and built-in shelving. Every inch of this space is cleverly used, with an extra powder room tucked into the stairway, floor to ceiling shelving in the kitchen, and more. This home provides the comfort of a large manse but also the convenience of a place with smaller square footage. Adjacent to the house, on the west side of the building, the owners have created a small garden oasis in the middle of our downtown. The garden is densely shaded and private because of its lush green foliage, but string lights enchant and add a warm glow to the space at night. The front entry to the house, which receives far more sun, is flanked with dozens of colorful containers bursting with blooms and fronds, including petunias, chartreuse sweet potato vines, spiky dracaena plants, and more. Owners: Timothy Coakley and William T. Yocum, II.

Turn right and continue eastward up Main Street to the MD 17/Church Street  intersection and traffic light about 450 feet away or approximately a two-minute walk. Please use the pedestrian crosswalk to cross over MD 17/Church Street then turn right to walk south to Site #8. 

8. Christ Reformed United Church of Christ, 12 South Church Street, Middletown, 21769. This church began its history in the southwest area of town known as “Picnic Woods.” Originally, in the 18th century both the Christ Reformed and Zion Lutheran congregations shared a circa 1740 log structure. Around 1770, the Reformed congregation purchased the land on what is now South Church Street and erected their own building plus the adjacent cemetery, which is the resting place of generations of Middletown residents, including thirteen Revolutionary War soldiers and one Civil War veteran. As the congregation grew, the 1770 structure was replaced in 1818 by the brick structure that still stands today. The front facade features five bays. On the ground floor, there are three sets of doors and two rectangular windows. The second story features rounded arched windows. Two more rounded arched windows lead the eye up to the steeple, which is topped with an octagonal belfry. The belfry houses two bells; the

oldest is inscribed “William Dobson, Downham, Norfolk Founder 1819.” The second bell was placed in the tower in 1911. On Sunday, September 14, 1862, General George McClellan used the steeple as a lookout to observe the nearby battle of South Mountain.

Soldiers also used the location to signal with troops on the ground using coded flags. Like Zion Lutheran, Christ Reformed Church was also used as a hospital in the aftermath of the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam. A devastating interior fire damaged much of the original sanctuary in March 2010. The restoration of the space reflects the complete 1995 renovation.

 

Turn right to go back towards the intersection of MD 17/Church Street and Main Street. At the intersection, turn right to travel eastward up Main Street. Walk past the

Connections Church to Site #9, Memorial Hall, the second building on the east with a recessed entryway. Inside, visitors can catch the elevator to access the public rooftop porch.

 

9. Memorial Hall, 4 East Main Street, Middletown, 21769. After being vacant for almost fifty years, new property owners gave this former grand dame the love and attention it needed to once again become the star of downtown. Now you can step out on the rooftop patio of this historic theater converted into luxury apartments to enjoy pleasant views of Middletown Valley. Memorial Hall was originally constructed as part of a statewide effort

to pay tribute to returning World War I soldiers. While many towns opted to construct commemorative bridges or obelisk statuary, Middletown built Memorial Hall to serve as a beautiful community gathering place for entertainment, recitals, dances and high school promenades, parties and civic celebrations, and more. Other than Middletown, only the City of Baltimore constructed a building under this 20th century state initiative. Memorial Hall features exposed brick, vintage window fixtures, and elaborate decorative metalwork at the entry on Main Street. The front facade was meticulously renovated, with hand cleaning

of the bricks, hand scraping and replacement of mortar, on-site repair

of the historic windows, and the restoration of the copper awning. Owner:

Memorial Hall Middletown, LLC.

 

Please walk to the pedestrian street crossing at the corner of Main Street and Church Street again. Using the traffic signals, cross Main Street and then turn right. Walk past the Subway restaurant to the second house on the left; you will know you are going in the correct direction if you are going uphill. There is a shared driveway between 11 and 13 East Main Street. The owners ask that you please walk up the drive to access the spectacular garden of 13 East Main Street.

 

10. 13 East Main Street, Middletown 21769. This house, along with the next two homes adjacent to it, were built circa 1900 on property that was once a large fruit tree orchard. This turn-of-the century cottage is a two-bay gable front home with Queen Anne elements. The integral front porch extends half the length of the house and is supported by slender porch posts and corbels with a turned porch railing. The interior has been updated to meet today’s needs but maintains much of its original woodwork; note the paneled hall and staircase, an intricately carved newel post, pocket doors, and windows and doors trimmed with classical pilasters and button corner blocks. Outside, be sure to step inside the older cooking kitchen, now a potting shed, and into the lush, meticulously landscaped backyard. This space, which is modeled on a traditional Victorian English cottage garden, is awe inspiring, even more so because the owner converted this formerly bare yard into a sea of flowers, shrubs, statuary, and tiered gardens in just one year! This spring, more than 2000 tulips and daffodils will be blooming in phases and perennials like magenta hued hydrangeas and coral bells, complement the vivid neon annuals. By May, some of the pink, yellow, and orange dahlias might be in bloom to add to this visual feast. Multiple hues of hardy roses border the working gardens, and luscious peonies burst open in mid to late spring. Wicker benches and statuary add character and visual interest, and a paved seating area with ambient lighting beckons people to linger in the yard well past twilight. This space pops with a riot of color and is thoroughly enchanting. Owners: Kevin and Lori Lankford.

 

This property concludes your tour! We invite you to continue strolling our streets to enjoy additional containers brimming with springtime blossoms plus the fountain and flower beds across the street from town hall, and encourage you to linger a bit longer, enjoy downtown businesses, restaurants and beautiful views. Thank you for coming and enjoying the homes and gardens of Middletown on this tour. We encourage you to visit Middletown often to experience our seasonal events, rotating menu items in our restaurants, and enjoy any one of our 6 walking tours. What stays the same are the amazing views and small-town hospitality.

Return directions:

Washington and Baltimore: Turn east onto Main Street. East Main Street turns into US Rt. 40 Alternate when you exit out of the town limits.  Travel approximately 3.9 miles to the intersection with I-70 East. 

 

Points west of Middletown: Turn north onto MD-17 and travel approximately 2.9 miles to the intersection with I-70 West. 

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