Yesterday rangers Clayton, Maura, and I had an experience that would have been certainly unique if not impossible in previous years. We toured the home of Shepherdstown luminary, Confederate veteran, and staff member to Stonewall Jackson; Henry Kyd Douglas. His beautiful ancestral home Ferry hill Place, a property of the National Park Service is now open to the public on weekends. And man, is it a cool place.
Nonetheless, young Henry distinguished himself during the war and when peace returned he became a leading citizen and practitioner of law in nearby Hagerstown.
Anyone who has crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown has seen the magnificent house that is Ferry Hill, and yesterday was finally the opportunity for we three Antietam Rangers to go have a long-wished-for look inside. (Clayton and Maura in the yard of the house)
Rangers Leslie and Curt were our gracious hosts (Leslie was our guide) and gave us a wonderful 45 minute tour of the home. Believe me we'd have stayed much longer if we could have.
For as spectacular as the exterior of the house is, including the view from the front yard... the interior is exquisite.
And begins as soon as you walk through the magnificent front door.
The first thing the visitor is greeted with today, as in the 1850s is that incredible, sweeping staircase that holds court over the front hallway...
here, being ascended by C&O volunteer Mr. Beckenbaugh who is a descendant of Henry Kyd Douglas' sister's family.
The house is absolutely a haven of light and elegance (as in simple beauty) for anyone who had been privileged enough to have lived there.
to the very simple mortised and tenioned doors painted to simulate more expensive woods with an even higher degree of craftsmanship. Much, if not all of this work was performed by some of the nearly 25, often highly skilled, enslaved workers that were kept by the household.
Even amid this splendor comes the sobering reminder that its often too easy to forget that much of the magnificence of this country was built on the backs of the disenfranchised.
All of these elements were done extremely well by a very talented artisan. Maura reports that the Sherrick house on the Antietam battlefield has similar such faux embellishments.
Though the house is bare it seems filled with, if not the presence of those who lived and worked there, then certainly, at least, with an aura of history and great and sometimes troubled times.
Here is the childhood room of Henry Kyd Douglas himself, his Confederate leanings doubtless influenced by the detrimental effects of modern fluorescent lighting!
But for vacationers to the Sharpsburg /Shepherdstown area this historic home is waiting for you to come a-calling, every Saturday and Sunday from ten a.m. until four p.m. throughout the Summer months.