(The clustered spires of Frederick)
This has been a very wet summer--I believe the wettest on record in our area, so I have been squeezing in activities while I can.
A few weeks ago, I decided to spend two nights in Frederick, Maryland, Frederick is a great walking city with plenty of independent shops, restaurants, an impressive art walk and the fascinating Civil War Museum of Medicine.
I was disappointed to miss out on a ghost tour due to a deluge, but I realize these are small problems compared to the rest of the country and was thankful that it only rained for a few hours one evening.
Luckily, I was able to swap out the ghost tour with a food tour before I left the following day. Tours, no matter what their theme, are always informative and local tour guides are happy to answer any questions that might pop up during the walk.
First Stop: The Frederick Visitors' Center
Although obvious, it sometimes bears repeating that the Visitors' Center should be your first stop for event schedules, brochures describing activities and maps to learn the lay of the land.
The Frederick Visitors' Center is located at 151 S. East Street, Frederick in a renovated warehouse that dates back to 1899. It is open seven days a week from 9 to 5:30 p.m. and touts 2,200 square feet of interpretive exhibits, along with a state-of-the-art theater that features a film about the area. Helpful Visitors' Services Specialists are always on duty to answer any questions. They also validate parking, which is free for three hours at any of the area's five garages.
The Public Art Trail
What initially attracted me to the area was the Public Art Trail, which is in walking distance of the Visitors' Center. It did not disappoint.
The first stop on the trail is The Delaplaine Arts Center located at 40 S. Carroll Street.
(Bin Feng, a Shanghai-born artist displays his photos
in “The American Dream” installation)
The free museum operates as a non-profit and is housed in a re-purposed mill that dates back more than a century. Their tagline: "Everyone Deserves Art," and it is provided abundantly with three floors of rotating exhibits featuring regional and national artists. During our visit, we experienced the thought-provoking work of Bin Feng, whose installation titled, "The American Dream" evokes the isolation he feels as a Shanghai-born artist living in America. His large-scale photographs possess a dream-like quality and he often appears in them as a dispassionate outsider.
Seven galleries of exhibits change monthly, so there is almost always something new to see.
A sculpture garden out back features contemporary art sculptures among the blooms.
(A sculpture garden is located behind the Delaplaine Arts Center)
(The Delaplain Arts Center offers art classes, workshops and seven galleries of rotating artwork)
Located not far from the garden is the Iron Bridge traversing Carroll Creek Park. Created by David David Chikvashvili and Nikolai Pakhomov of Iron Masters, it highlights some of nature's wonders that can be seen in the area.
(The hand-forged iron and steel bridge that crosses Carroll Creek)
Nearby is the spectacular trompe l'oeil mural, which was conceived and executed by Frederick artist William Cochran in 1993. He and his assistants used permanent silicate paints to create the expansive work on all six walls of the Community Bridge.
(“The Forgotten Song”)
(Tour guides have noticed birds trying to land on “The Unfound Door”)
(“The Woman of Samaria”)
(“Archangel” depicts a painting technique called anamorphic projection” a technique invented by Leonardo da Vinci where the image appears different at various angles. The painting’s message? “Where we stand, determines what we see.”)
(Hands holding the earth)
The artist's concept was met with quite a bit of controversy at first. It took years before the city was given the green light to go ahead and within a period of five years, the painting of the bridge was completed. The award-winning work of art is described as one that "speaks with a communal voice." You can learn more about this impressive project by clicking on the video below.
More art awaits on the Stone-Arch Bridge crossing the Carroll Creek where zodiac-themed sculptures are installed on both sides. This is another work created by Nikolai Pakhomov, with the message that time, universe and humanity are connected.
(The statue is situated in front of the library and was created by George Lundeen. It depicts two children gazing over the shoulder of an adult as he reads the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner)
Nature's art plays a part as well, with plants that bloom in the creek that flows through the middle of the park. I believe I may have just missed a spectacular show, but you can see that a few plants were still blooming when I visited in early September. We spotted a few ducks as well.
(The bottom one is real)
Among the 4,000 plants are lilies, lotuses, water irises, reeds and cattail. You can see additional pictures and learn more about "Color on the Creek" here.
Additional works of art continue on buildings located downtown, like this depiction of The Frederick News-Post.
(Frederick News-Post mural)
And no, the picture below isn't some 80's rocker belting out "Eye of the Tiger." The mural, also done by Cochran, is named "Edge of Gravity," and depicts a young man from 1745. The red, white and blue colors are to intended to evoke a 250-year-old dream of liberty, equality and inclusion.
(The Edge of Gravity)
Further along the way at 108 Church Street is "Guess," the Greyhound sculpture. Lore has it that the dog was named by the impish little girls who lived in the building after the Civil War, who, when asked their dog's name, would reply "Guess."
(Guess, the dog statue, is located at 108 W Church Street)
Along the same vein is this sculpture, a Newfoundland known as "Charity Dog," named for the work of the non-profit Federated Charities housed in this building at 22 S. Market Street.
(“Charity Dog” is located at 22 Market Street)
The last piece two pieces of art I'll share with you were painted by Cochran as part of his "Angels in the Architecture" series.
(The top painting is called “Egress” and is located at Second and Market. The second painting, also created by Cochran, is named “Earthbound” and depicts an aging angel overlooking the city)
The National Museum of Civil War Medicine It's easy to think we have it bad when it comes to pain and various ailments our society contends with, so sometimes a trip back in history is necessary to kick us in the pants and remind us of how blessed we are. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, which spans two floors, is both interesting and informative. Placards, dioramas and exhibits transport visitors to the Civil War time period and the rapidly evolving world of medicine.
(A patient is sedated with ether)
According to Jake Wynn, Educational Programming Coordinator at the museum, the war took place in an interesting time when the Industrial Revolution was just underway. "Engineering, science and a whole host of other fields were just beginning to enter into their modern forms," he said, adding that many of the lessons learned on the battlefield were brought back to civilian life. Specialization emerged from the Civil War, from plastic surgery for treating disfiguring facial injuries, to dental surgery that came with the rebuilding of jaws and neurologists who specialized in treating head injuries. Fun fact: Half of the early brain surgeries performed by Civil War era doctors were successful!
Additional innovations that emerged during that period as a direct result of the war was the practice of embalming, females' roles in nursing, and the ambulance system.
(A doctor peers into his medicine chest)
Our informative guide, John Lustrea, led us through the museum to provide us with an overview and answer our questions. There was quite a bit to read along the way, so I think I'll return at some point to delve deeper into more details. I appreciated seeing the Clara Barton exhibit and learning more about her as well. Not only did she found the Red Cross, but she was also instrumental in what would today be described as a crowd-sourcing effort to help connect soldiers' remains with the families seeking them.
(Clara Barton’s trunk bed)
Guests can also spend time reading about how various ailments were treated. One exhibit was dedicated to the treatment of STDs which, I was told, were not uncommon during the period. There is much to see, read and digest in this captivating museum, which provides insight into this sad, yet fascinating, pivotal point in our history.
The Museum of Frederick County History
(The Museum of Frederick County History was once an orphanage and a private home)
The Museum of Frederick County History located at 24 E. Church Street, once served as an orphanage and private residence. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is open to the public from Wednesday through Sunday and a changing selection of exhibits tells the story of Frederick County from Colonial Times to the present day.
(An interior room of the Museum of Frederick County History)
(Two floors of exhibits share details on Frederick County and
its impact on the nation)
Signature events include walking and architectural tours. To learn more, consult their website for dates and times.
Before we left, we couldn't resist purchasing "The Diary of Jacob Englebrecht." Jacob served as mayor from 1865 to 1868 and began recording his day-to-day life when he turned 20. He continued to journal on a daily basis for 60 years. I might also add that it was quite the bargain at $25 for both tomes.
(Jacob Englebrecht documents his life over a period of 60 years)
(A children’s room encourages interactive play for budding historians)
Visiting the Monocacy Battlefield
The Monocacy Battlefield serves as a memorial of the battle fought between the Union and Confederate armies on July 9, 1964.
(The Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor’s Center)
Each year approximately more than 43,000 tourists visit the area to learn more about the Battle of Monocacy, where Union troops staved off an effort to take Washington, D.C.
The Visitors' Center, located at 5201 Urbana Drive, is open daily from 9 to 5 p.m. and should be the first stop on your visit. There you can pick up maps and learn more before touring the fields. The two-story center opened to the public in 2007. The first floor contains a welcome area and gift shop and the second floor features interactive exhibits to help shed light on the soldiers, citizens and families who were affected by the battle.
Guests can learn more about the battle through a self-guided automobile tour, which features five stops spanning six miles. Those who prefer to tour the area on foot can traverse six miles of designated walking trails.
(Cannons seen from the balcony of the visitor’s center)
(Learn about the Battle of Monocacy at the Visitor’s Center)
(A view of the battlefield from the balcony with interpretive signage)
Standing on the battlefield, it's difficult to imagine that the peaceful setting along the Monocacy River was once the site of a fierce and bloody battle to the death. This destination, run by the National Park Service, provides the public with the finer details of a fight that doesn't seem to get all much attention, yet is credited for saving Washington, D.C.
(The exterior of the Flying Dog Brewery on a cloudy day)
Frederick is home to its fair share of breweries and choosing just one was difficult. In the end, we decided to take a drive out to Wedgewood Boulevard to check out the place that could be described as one of the pioneers in the area's craft brewing industry. Flying Dog Brewery was founded in 1990 in Colorado and expanded into Maryland in 2006. Today it is the largest craft brewery in Maryland and the 28th largest in the United States.
Guests can sign up for free tours held Thursday through Sunday. Cards are available listing a number of flights available for tasting and guests can simply mark which ones they'd like to try. The night we visited, the place was hopping (pardon the pun). The tasting room was standing room only, so many patrons wandered outside with their refreshing libations to relax and socialize at the picnic tables, or stare at their phones. (Gotta stay real here.) A few patrons engaged in a friendly game of cornhole, while others lined up at the food truck on site.
(Flying Dog’s busy tasting room)
(Guests relax at tables out front)
Dining and Shopping in Frederick
Frederick is home to scores of independent boutiques and eateries and a few large-scale antique stores. We actually got lost in Emporium Antiques as we strolled through the maze of rooms.
(Emporium Antiques features scores of vendors)
(Interesting décor items at Industrial Homes Inc)
On the last day of our visit, we decided to learn more about the city and its food offerings by taking a "Taste Frederick" food tour. We met our guide and about 10 other friendly folks for a three-hour tour that took us through the town and into various eating establishments. Our first visit at Pretzel & Pizza Creations started with what was billed as a "turkey Reuben calzone," something I wouldn't have ordered, but ended up liking quite a bit. Other stops included Firestone's Market on Market located beside the restaurant we had visited the night before There we enjoyed a pastrami sandwich. "People come from miles around for these," said our guide.
As we walked the streets, we learned stories of Frederick and its architecture, including interesting information about sisters that used to live in this mansion where top-chef alumni Brian Voltaggio operates a popular restaurant by the name of Volt.
(Volt is located at 228 North Market Street)
On the tour, we sampled craft beer at Brewer's Alley, which has an interesting story that dates back to the 1700s. If that piques your attention, I've provided the link here.
(Brewer’s Alley is located at 124 N Market Street)
We also took a stroll along the picturesque Carroll Creek to The Wine Kitchen on the Creek where we indulged in fried green tomatoes, wine and homemade cinnamon buns.
(Shops and restaurants along Carrol Creek)
(Inside the Wine Kitchen on the Creek)
Our last two shops included the North Market Pop Shop, which offers 400 types of soda, some with unusual names like "Always Ask for Avery's Totally Gross Dog Drool." I am glad we weren't offered that flavor.
(The North Market Pop Shop offers 400 types of soda)
The last stop on our tour was Zoe's Chocolate Co. where we enjoyed a truffle sampling. Zoe's is a third-generation chocolate company that started in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania and expanded into Frederick. You can learn more about their story here.
(Our engaging and knowledgeable guide prepares the chocolates for serving)
Well, that's more than I intended to write for this blog. Hard to believe I spent less than three days in Frederick. Perhaps this will be an enticement to set up your own visit to the area. One thing's for sure--you won't run out of things to do.