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Smokehouse Restaurant at Antrim 1844, in Taneytown, named ‘Best Historic Restaurant’

A Taneytown hotel boasts a 17,000-square-foot mansion steeped in history that predates the Civil War.

But that’s not even the top reason why guests make the trip — not only locally but from Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia — to Antrim 1844.

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“Our culinary programming is the main draw to our property,” said Jim Shideler, general manager of Antrim 1844.

To that end, the Smokehouse Restaurant at Antrim 1844 recently earned the honor of Best Historic Restaurant in Conjunction with a Historic Hotel from Historic Hotels of America, an official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The restaurant has also received the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator numerous times, including in 2019.

According to Shideler, close to 400 hotels are represented in Historic Hotels for America and there are multiple factors on which they base their decision. A representative dines, anonymously, at the restaurant and also looks into reviews of the restaurant on websites such as TripAdvisor.

The building has been around far longer than TripAdvisor.

The number 1844 is not only part of the facility’s name, but also the year it was constructed. According to Antrim 1844′s website, Col. Andrew Ege built the mansion that year on 450 acres and raised livestock, naming the estate for his wife’s family’s ancestral home in County Antrim, Ireland. Many of the original outbuildings are still intact.

Gen. George Meade stayed on the property during the Civil War, days before the start of the Battle of Gettysburg, according to Historic Hotels of America. A room is named in his honor. Antrim was later owned by the family of Supreme Court Justice Harry Morris Clabaugh for nearly a century. In 1961, Taneytown businessman George Crouse purchased the mansion and 24 surrounding acres, maintaining the property and allowing its use for certain town functions, according to the Antrim website, while also having it placed on the National Historic Trust Register, which protects it from ever being torn down.

Shideler said current owners Dort and Richard Mollett walked through Antrim’s doors in 1987, fell in love with the place and purchased it. The Molletts, who did not respond to requests for comment, opened it as a four-bedroom bed and breakfast in 1988. From there, it has evolved into a facility with 40 guest rooms, an outdoor pool, a pavilion and, of course, The Smokehouse Restaurant, boasting a well-stocked wine collection.

“Our wine cellar is one of the largest in the east. It has over 20,000 bottles, over 500 varieties so it’s definitely an expansive wine cellar. Richard is definitely a wine connoisseur and has really developed the wine program over the years to what it is currently," said Shideler.

Antrim 1844 also serves as a busy wedding venue. Last year they welcomed 110 weddings and Shideler estimated they will do about the same or more this year. “We only do one wedding a day, so basically from May through October, it’s pretty much a wedding everyday Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the most part,” he said.

One thing that is commonly misconstrued, Shideler said, is that people think they have to be guests at Antrim 1844 to eat at the Smokehouse Restaurant. But the restaurant is open to anyone, guest or not.

“We have a phenomenal executive chef, incredible kitchen, we do a six-course dinner every day," Shideler said. “It truly is a dining experience."

An award-winning one, at that.

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