For more than two and a half centuries, Frederick (population 57,907) has been situated at the crossroads of American history. At the intersection of two National Scenic Byways – the Historic National Road and the Catoctin Mountain National Scenic Byway, also known as part of “The Journey Through Hallowed Ground”– Frederick’s outstanding historic resources tell many stories about the American experience.
Established in 1745, Frederick evolved from a small frontier settlement to the third largest city in Maryland. One early resource is Schifferstadt, a 1756 farmhouse considered to be the finest remaining example of German Colonial architecture in the United States. Businesses later developed to serve pioneers headed west on the National Road.
Frederick was home to citizens who played influential roles in the early years of the nation’s development. John Hanson, president of the Continental Congress prior to the ratification of the Constitution, established residency here in 1773. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger Brooke Taney began his law practice here with his brother-in-law, Francis Scott Key, in a building that has been restored and is used today. Maryland’s first governor, Thomas Johnson, resided in Frederick and today his home is a children’s museum called Rose Hill Manor Park. Frederick also is the home of Barbara Fritchie, immortalized in Whittier’s poem for defiantly waving a Union flag at oncoming Confederate soldiers.
Both Confederate and Union troops passed through Frederick on their way to Antietam in 1862, and parts of the Union Army went north through the city to get to Gettysburg. Many of the wounded were brought to Frederick for medical care in a building that today is the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, housing more than 2,000 artifacts that illustrate the medical story of the war. Many Civil War sites in Frederick are highlighted on the Maryland Civil War Trails driving tours.
Despite continual growth, the city of Frederick remains relatively intact and contains the largest contiguous collection of historic resources in the state – a 50-block Downtown Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Newer resources include the Weinberg Center for the Arts, a restored art deco movie palace with an original Wurlitzer pipe organ and year-round performances.
Frederick has been the recipient of many awards, including recognition as a Great American Main Street, the first in Maryland, and as one of the National Trust’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations. The Frederick Historic Sites Consortium of 30 heritage organizations runs docent recruiting fairs and an annual series of workshops, field trips, and discussions, with an optional track leading to Master Docent Certification. Another innovative program is Bell and History Days, a multi-venue two-day event to open the new museum season.
Designated a Preserve America Community in March 2007.