Historical Society of Mount Airy moves into new digs

The Historical Society of Mount Airy is nearly finished renovating the old Mount Airy train station, converting the 19th century structure into a new home and museum.

At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25, the museum will hold a grand opening, with the third annual Celebrate Mount Airy festival to follow at 5 p.m. in the caboose visitors center.


The Times recently caught up with Historical Society President Mike Eacho to learn more about the society, the new location and Mount Airy history.

Q: Tell us about the Mount Airy Historical Society’s new digs — what’s the facility like and why was it the right place for the museum?


The Historical Society has hoped to occupy the Mount Airy Station since we began back in 1997. It is a very historic building having been built when the B&O Railroad was in its infancy. It has easy access from a large parking area and it has a lot of floor space.

Q: What is the history of the Historical Society? How long have you been around and where have you been located prior?

In the Fall of 1997, Mayor Jerry Johnson called together a group of citizens who had an interest in the heritage of Mount Airy, with the idea of establishing a nonprofit corporation to oversee the Mount Airy Museum.

As a result of this meeting, the Historical Society of Mount Airy, Maryland, Inc. was established in 1998. The officers elected at this first meeting were: Travis Norwood, President, Brian Johnson, Vice President, Michael Eacho, Secretary, and Patricia Norwood, Treasurer. Its mission is to foster interest in the Town history, and to inform the public about our history.

The Historical Society started its first year with 57 charter members and six life members.

Matt McDonough, Dr. Scott Sirchio and Patty Washabaugh, the three candidates running in Mount Airy's first special election, fielded citizen-submitted questions at candidate forum Aug. 16. Sirchio and Washabaugh are on the town's planning commission, McDonough just graduated from high school.

Q: Are there any particular features of the new location that are especially exciting, or old material that will now be in display that wasn’t out in your previous location in the flat iron building?

The Mount Airy Station was designed by E. Francis Baldwin, who was a designer of trains and train stations. He designed many of the train stations in the area including the stations in Sykesville, Ellicott City, Rockville, Brunswick and Gaithersburg.

The Mount Airy train station is a long single-story brick combination station, meaning it served both passengers and freight. The central portion was built in 1875. This original portion was used as a freight house. In 1876 a wooden passenger structure was made on the west side of the station, and an addition was made to the east side to expand the freight handling capacity of the station. In the early 1900s the wooden passenger station was replaced by a brick structure, which is now home to the Med One Mount Airy Pharmacy.

The Mount Airy Station is a long, singe-story brick combination station, meaning it served both passengers and freight. It has a fairly conventional layout. The station includes rather ornate brickwork and wood roof braces, which can be seen on the station’s exterior.

The new museum will include many new exhibits that we are very excited about. The railyard in which the train station is located will be modeled in HO scale and will have running trains and models of buildings from the early 1900s. We will have exhibits on the industry and commerce of Mount Airy and a large exhibit on the Garrett Sanatorium, a hospital for poor children primarily from Baltimore. Many new facts have been discovered through our research that will change what local people have believed about the facility.

Q: Are there any stories from Mount Airy history that you find really compelling, important or just plain interesting that you wish more people knew about?

I think this museum will tell many stories that are compelling and interesting. It will present our town’s history in a way that we hope will make our local residents proud of this small town that they live in. We have made every effort to use first-person accounts, where possible, to present the stories.


Q: Tell us about the grand opening ceremony on Saturday, what the plan is and who should come out.

The grand opening ceremony will present the new museum to our town and its people. Hopefully, we will bring to everyone’s attention the amount of effort that went into producing the exhibits and that this effort was provided almost entirely by volunteers.

Q: Where and how can people learn more about the Historical Society, the museum and how to support your work?

We have a Facebook page: Historical Society of Mount Airy, on which we try to keep people updated about our progress and scheduled events. We are working on a website that will provide additional information about the Historical Society and the exhibits in the museum. As you are aware, we can only put so much detail in the exhibits. We hope this website will provide visitors with additional information on various topics if they want to know more.

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