Pasadena couple will take control of Antietam inn

June 02, 1994|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Staff Writer

Thanks to an Anne Arundel County couple, tourists and the ghost of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet can continue to hang out together on the Antietam battlefield.

The Piper House, probably the only bed-and-breakfast inn operating smack in the middle of a Civil War battlefield -- and certainly the only one that once served as the headquarters of a Confederate general -- had been in danger of closing. Its operator, Douglas Reed, and the National Park Service, which administers the house and battlefield, had been unable to agree on changes to the 56-year lease he had signed in 1985.

Without some changes, Mr. Reed said, he couldn't run the house profitably. In April, he announced he would be closing Piper as of July 5.

That's when Regina and Louis Clark of Pasadena rode to the rescue. Mr. Clark, a retired Oakland, Calif., police officer who describes himself as "somewhat of a Civil War buff," read about the threatened closing in the newspaper. The idea of running a bed and breakfast at such a hallowed and historic site appealed to the Clarks almost instantly.

So they drove to the Western Maryland battlefield, took a look at the house, drove around the town and were hooked.

"We just fell in love with the whole area of Sharpsburg," Mr. Clark says.

The only thing left was to sell themselves to Mr. Reed. After his story appeared in newspapers throughout the country, the Hagerstown resident, who restores old homes for a living, had received offers to run the house from as far away as Texas and New York.

Mr. Reed says he seriously investigated 10 offers. All were good, but the Clarks were easily the cream of the crop.

"Everyone was made whole and happy by this thing," says Mr. Reed, noting that the money didn't vary much from offer to offer. The decision, he says, came down to what he felt would be the best match between house and human. "I wanted to feel in my heart that we had the best folks coming."

The Clarks will soon be selling their waterfront home in Pasadena and moving into the Piper House themselves. Come July 5, they assure Civil War enthusiasts, the historic home will be in good hands.

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