If you’re ever fortunate enough to visit Boonsboro, Maryland, it’s a bit like stepping into small-town America. Nestled at the foot of South Mountain with approximately 3,500 residents, the town has a walkable main street with a handful of small shops and boutiques, as well as several dining establishments and a creamery. It’s mostly unassuming except, perhaps, for the large building at the corner of North Main Street and St. Paul Street. Community events attract crowds to the town park, throughout the warm weather months. And all the locals seem to have grown up knowing each other.
However, there is the occasional Saturday when you’ll find a long line of people coming out of Turn the Page Bookstore, extending down Main Street and around the corner, continuing down Potomac Street. This is not the norm, but on those days, you can be sure that New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts is doing a book signing at Turn The Page Bookstore, owned and operated by Roberts’ husband Bruce Wilder. The large building at the corner of North Main and St. Paul Streets is owned by Roberts and Wilder. They opened Inn BoonsBoro, a bed and breakfast, in 2009. Each room of the Inn has its own theme and bears the name of literary lovers. Many travelers come to Boonsboro just to experience a stay at the luxurious Inn.
Boonsboro is celebrating its 225th anniversary throughout 2017. The town was founded in 1792 by brothers George and William Boone, cousins of the famous American pioneer and frontiersman Daniel Boone. Originally called Boonesberry, the name evolved to Margaretsville (in honor of George’s wife), then Boonesborough and finally Boonsboro, as we know it today.
When the Boone brothers first laid the town out they established 44 half-acre lots, 22 on each side of the street. Eleven years later it was still a small town with only 24 houses. It wasn’t until after William Boone’s death that the town experienced growth and prosperity, due to its location on the National Road. The town has its share of unique “firsts” in the history books. In 1823 macadam was used for the first time in the United States on the stretch of the National Road between Boonsboro and Hagerstown. Five years later, Boonsboro citizens built the first ever monument to President George Washington, atop South Mountain. By 1830 the population of Boonsboro had grown to 707 people.
Boonsboro is forever linked to the American Civil War, mostly because of the Maryland Campaign of 1862. Geographically, it is situated between where the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam were fought. Troops marched through Boonsboro and hospitals were set up in town after the battles to care for the thousands of wounded soldiers.
Several special events are planned throughout the spring and summer of 2017 to celebrate Boonsboro’s 225th anniversary. On Sunday, April 30, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Big Cork Vineyards will host an Evening of History, Music and Wine. Local historian and author Dr. Tom Clemens will be the featured speaker and singer/songwriter Jennie Avila will perform many of her Civil War songs. Friday, June 23 is Boonsboro Night at the Hagerstown Suns. It will be a special night for South Mountain Little League teams and 1,000 limited edition 3-D replicas of the Washington Monument will be distributed to fans at the Suns game. A special commemorative ceremony at the Washington Monument is planned for Saturday, July 1. The Christian Ardinger Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution will reenact the laying of the original cornerstone. On September 16 and 17, Barbara Ingram School for the Arts students will present a play at The Stage House at G Boone’s, depicting a reunion of the Heck brothers between the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam. A special 2.25-mile road race will be held Saturday, September 23 at 9 a.m. in Boonsboro, ending in Shafer Park.
In addition to the special events planned, there is a brand new Historic Boonsboro Walking Tour, available in both print and mobile versions. The walking tour includes 38 stops of historical interest, 34 of which are accessible by walking around town. The printed walking tour brochure is available at Boonsboro Town Hall and several businesses in Boonsboro. It can also be downloaded from the Boonsboro Historical Society website at http://boonsborohistoricalsociety.org/. There are also instructions for accessing the mobile version of the walking tour on the website.
If you’re local to Washington County and love the small-town charm that Boonsboro has to offer, it’s a great year to visit and celebrate 225 years. If you’ve never been to Boonsboro, 2017 is the perfect year to make the trip.