Almshouse Evolved Into The Popular Farm Museum

Animals, Gardens And Home Give Visitors And Residents A Glimpse Of County's

Rural Life

May 05, 1991

When the "Commissioners of the Tax" were authorized to build a home for the poor, little did they know the Westminster facility would someday become the popular Carroll County Farm Museum.

The county almshouse was established in 1840 when the "Commissioners of the Tax" were authorized to borrow a sum of money "to be applied to the purchaseof a farm, and the creation of suitable buildings for the use of thepoor."

A contract was made on July 6, 1852, for the purchase of 307 acres at a cost of $58.065 per acre. The farm was laid out and built during 1852-1853, and public notice given that paupers would be received on May 23, 1853.

There were times in its history when as many as 50 people lived at the County Home -- some young, some old, some healthy, some disabled. The almshouse was a working farm, providing food and shelter for its inhabitants who, if they were able, performed the farming tasks.

The almshouse continued to operate until 1965, whenits gates were closed and an era of American history ended.

Landon Burns, then a county extension agent, had been collecting old farm artifacts and was interested in establishing a farm museum. With thisproperty now available, Burns' dream became reality when the museum opened in August 1966.

The museum is a beautiful 140-acre farm, complete with pond, nature trails, large shade trees for picnicking anda variety of farm animals.

In its present incarnation, the six-room farm house depicts the life of a land-owning family of the late 19th century. Costumed guides conduct tours through a house that features stenciling copied from older Carroll County homes.

Behind the main house is an authentic country garden, farm outbuildings -- most of them original to the property -- including a smoke house, spring house, blacksmith's shop, broom shop, and a dormitory that now houses craftsmen demonstrating some of the old skills.

Farm animals are available to watch and enjoy, but not to pet. The nature trail is open for trail blazers and nature enthusiasts alike.

The museum -- which allows no pets or alcoholic beverages -- is open for general admission from noon to 5 p.m. weekends from May 4 to Oct. 27; it also is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday during July and August. Group tours are offered between April 2 and Oct. 27 by advance reservation.

General admission is $3 for adults; $2 for children 6 to 18, adults over 60 and groups of 20 or more; free for children under 6 accompanied by a parent. Prices vary for special event days, which occur rain or shine; group rates also are available, said Director Jennifer DeArmey.

Season passes also are offered at $15 per familyand $35 for a family and house guests.

School tours also can be arranged Tuesday through Friday between April 2 and Oct. 27. Admissionis $2 for students, chaperones and aides; free for teachers. The Farm Museum is at 500 South Center St. in Westminster. Information: 848-7775 or 876-2667.


* May 17: Senior Citizens' Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; entertainment, an auction, Bingo, wagon rides, crafts and food; $2 for all.

* June 2: Antique Craft Fair and Farm Show, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; about 180 antique and craft dealers display their wares, food vendors sell home-cooked items; farm demonstrations andexhibits; free.

* June 9: Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention No. 1, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; musicians compete for cash prizes; country food and crafts, tours and demonstrations; $6 for adults, free for children under 18 accompanied by an adult.

* June 23: Carroll County Beef Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $3 for adults, $2 for children 6-18 and seniors.

* July 4: Old-Fashioned July 4th Celebration, noon to dusk; family outing with Picnic Basket Auction, children's games, Cherry Pie Competition, fireworks at dusk, food, crafts and entertainment; $3 for adults, $2 for children 6-18 and seniors.

* July 12: Therapeutic Recreation Day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; stage entertainment, craft demonstrations, therapeutic horseback riding, tours, picnicking and food; $1.50 per person, free for children under 6 accompanied by an adult.

* Aug. 4: Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention No. 2, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; musicians compete for cash prizes; country food and crafts, tours and demonstrations; $6 for adults, free for children under 18 accompanied by an adult.

* Sept. 6-8: Steam Show Days, 10 a.m. to dusk;sponsored by the Mason Dixon Historical Steam Society; country food,antique and craft vendors, displays of steam and gasoline engines; $3 for adults, $2 for children 6-18 and seniors.

* Sept. 21-22: Maryland Wine Festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday; sample Maryland wines and fine cuisine, continuous entertainment (including blues, jazz and ragtime), top quality crafts and museum tours; $10 admission for adults over 21 (free for those under 21 with paying adult) includes 10 single-ounce samples of wine and a glass withthe festival logo.

* Oct. 12-13: Fall Harvest Days, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m; scarecrow-making, apple butter-stirring, butchering, crafts demonstrations and sales, entertainment, country food, wagon rides, toursof museum; $3 for adults, $2 for children 6-18 and seniors, free forchildren under 6.

* Oct. 26: 25th Anniversary Hoe Down, an evening of old-fashioned dancing and socializing; admission charge.

* Nov. 30-Dec. 8: Christmas Open House, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, till 8 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday; mansion rooms decorated in preparation for this year's theme, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"; $3 for adults, $2 for children 6-18 and seniors.

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