Commercial Hotel, Boonsboro, 1887
The hotel on the corner of North Main Street and St. Paul in Boonsboro, Maryland has had a long history. It was probably built in the 1790s by Peter Conn and named the Eagle, one of the two stone buildings in Boonsboro at the time. Christian Dagenhart in 1796 reported that there were five houses in Boonsboro – P. Conn’s Eagle Hotel, Boone’s farmhouse, Jacob Craig’s, Mrs. Short’s log cabin and a house at the spring. Scharf quotes Conn’s ledger:
Sept 22, 1802   Two grogs at 5 ½ d   - 11 d
March 1804  1 qt beer   -   11d
“   “  1 grog   -  5 ½ d
“ 9 “  1 qt spts  -   11d
“ 4 “  1 qt beer  -   11d
Looking glasses and chairs in club   -  2s 6d. (Scharf, 1882). [S = shillings, and d = pence, meaning at this time pounds, shillings and pence were still in use, rather than the dollar.]
After Conn’s death in the 1820s, there were numerous owners including James Chambers, one of whose sons was the editor of the Boonsboro Eagle newspaper. The Boonsboro Odd Fellow referred to the hotel during that time as the Chambers hotel. The Washington County atlas published in 1877 shows the property as the Eagle Hotel. Geo. Smith was the landlord. "Good accomodation for man and beast at reasonable rates."
The Sanborn maps of 1897 and 1904 show the hotel as the Commercial, and next to it were the Hotel Boone and the Potomac Hotel – three hotels in a row on North Main Street. By 1910 the Boone and Potomac had ceased business – a stove and tinware store had replaced the Boone and the Potomac became a private dwelling. The Commercial Hotel remained but by 1940 had been renamed the Boone Hotel.
There is one other name found for this building. A number of photographs from the early 20th century show the Mountain Glen Hotel.
It was the Boone Hotel that burned in February, 2008 in the midst of a renovation project by its new owners, Nora Roberts and Bruce Wilder. The full story of the fire can be found at Boonsboro blaze caused by propane tank, The Herald-Mail, February 22, 2008. The hotel is now reopened as the Inn BoonsBoro.
The register from the Commercial Hotel for several months of 1887 was given to the Western Maryland Room. The list shows who stayed in the hotel and what meals they ate. There were guests from as far away as San Francisco and Ellensburgh, New York, and by contrast there was Harvey Shoop of Mapleville, less than three miles from Boonsboro, who stayed several nights each week (The 1900 census lists Mr. Shoop as a blacksmith). One family visited from Washington DC with their two servants. A guest from Pittsburgh rented a room for his driver. Geo. Townsend, the journalist who built the War Correspondents' Arch at Crampton's Gap, stayed twice. One guest signed the register as Mr. Bicycle Rider from Frederick City. Mons Leroy, Fire King, was also a guest.
The hotel was empty many nights, but one night in August 1887 22 people stayed at the Commercial – Wm. Main and Co. Show. On the register is listed:
Their next stand was to be at Smithsburg, 11 miles away. There was an active circus in the period run by a Walter Main. William Main worked for son Walter during parts of 1886 and 1887 as Walter had worked for his father in earlier years. Whether this Wm. Main is related to Walter is unknown. But perhaps the circus came to town in 1887 and stayed at the Commercial Hotel !
|Western Maryland Regional Library is grateful to Larry and Karen Matson of Keedysville for donating the register to the Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library. Thanks to Doug Bast for permission to use his photographs of the hotel.