Inn Opens For Glimpse Of Washington's Bedroom

Revolutionary-period Rising Sun Briefly Opens To Public

December 15, 1991|By William C. Ward | William C. Ward,Staff writer

In 1783, George Washington is said to have slept there on his way toresigning his commission in Annapolis.

In the Civil War, gaily outfitted French Zouaves marched by to join General Burnside's Brigade at Camp Parole.

But Crownsville's Rising Sun Inn is silent for now, until it opens 1 to 4 p.m. today, offering the public a glimpse at a time before Maryland statehood and the American Revolution. The historic structureis usually open by appointment only.

Built in 1753, the inn was one of many hip-roofed taverns (describing the incline of all four sides of the building) of Maryland built before the Revolutionary War.

The well-known inn was a stop for the post rider and stage coach, and the meeting place of the local equivalent of the Sons of Liberty in the tension-filled days before the revolution.

"An old tavern was an extremely important part of Revolutionary and Colonial life. There would be one every 10 miles, the same way with the churches," explains Ellan W. Thorson, regent of the Ann Arrundell Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

"Taverns were significant as social centers," says Anne Peret, assistant at the Londontown Publick House and Gardens, another historic tavern in Anne Arundel County. "Often in taverns you'd see announcements postedright on the wall for runaway slaves and other things."

The Daughters of the American Revolution set about restoring the tavern in 1916. Starting with a $5,000 loan, they raised more money with tea and card parties through the 1920s, completing restoration in 1928.

"Itwas in pretty bad shape. (The group) worked until they had all tea and card partied to death," Thorson says.

The original restoration loan was repaid in 1925, and the NSDAR turned its attention to acquiring the land around the tavern, buying the last small piece in 1975 to complete the 1.625-acre tract.

Today, the Rising Sun Inn is in much better shape, and much of the original woodwork and glass remains, restored to its pre-Revolutionary luster.

"We had some (glass) that had to be replaced, but most of it is original. We've been lucky," Thorson says.

The historic tavern now serves as a chapter house for the Ann Arrundell Chapter NSDAR, and houses a small basement museum. Many of the members of the group are descended from the original owners of the tavern.

The basement is filled with artifacts of theColonial period, and the remains of the taproom are evident upon close examination. It is said that George Washington poured whiskey intohis boots there for some unknown reason.

"Inns were more like today's bed and breakfasts," says Dorothy Rembold, president of the inn's board of trustees.

On the ground level, a spinning wheel, antique colonial furniture and a pewter and china collection are among the highlights in the four rooms, which will be decorated with greens forthe holidays.

The Ann Arrundell Chapter of NSDAR continues to restore this piece of the county's history.

Take Route 97 to Exit 5 (Crownsville exit) and take Route 178 toward Crownsville. The inn is about 1 mile on the left and is marked by a historic marker for Count Rochambeau.

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