Imagine stepping back into the world of the early 19th Century. The Declaration of Independence was signed only 24 years earlier. A new homestead cabin has just been built in north-western Virginia on part of a 200 acre land grant signed by President James Monroe. This and other deeds are displayed at The Old Homestead, which is now a charming old two hundred and twelve year old farmhouse restored to its 1800s roots.
The town of Berkeley Springs, one and one-half miles away, was laid out by young George Washington. It’s said that he bathed in the well-known warm springs here. His ‘bath tub’ is still on display in the State Park. The medicinal healing springs, originally frequented by Indian tribes, became America’s first spa. The historic but operational Roman Bath House in Berkeley Springs State Park is fed by the healing waters of Warms Springs run and provides natural mineral baths and massages. Numerous private spas are also located in town. A full- sized swimming pool is part of the State Park. Free Summer concerts, sponsored by the Morgan Arts Council, are presented in the park on Saturday evenings. These attractions are just a five minute drive from the Old Homestead.
Additional rooms were added to the original house in around 1850. By the time of the Civil War, descendants of the settlers sat on the front porch and watched Confederate soldiers march toward Martinsburg. Both armies, bushwhackers, horse thieves and smugglers rode through this border area. The nearby Potomac River was the boundary between North and South and many battles took place nearby.
Now guests can relax in rockers on the shaded front porch.
The back patio and deck provide views of rolling meadows and Sleepy Creek Mountain. A comfortable hammock hangs between large trees in the yard. Enjoy wildlife drinking at the spring-fed ponds and birds flocking to the feeder. (The small ponds are a natural wildlife asset, but are unsuitable for swimming, fishing or boating.) In the modern kitchen, original rafters are exposed and half-wainscot walls are restored. The kitchen chimney contains large fossil rocks. The fireplace in the living room accommodates a built-in wood stove. A dining area overlooks the front porch. Play chess at the game table in the hall area. A full bath is to the right and the laundry room is at the opposite end of the hall.
Narrow, winding steps lead upstairs to a hallway reading area. All of the wainscot doors have been retained on the second floor. A half-bath is located to the right and a small bedroom with a single bed is to the left. The original homestead master bedroom opens off the hall. Complete with a small mantled fireplace (charming but inoperable), this room boasts some lovely antiques and a double bed. The original chair-rails have been retained here. An adjoining door leads to the back bedroom. This bedroom was known as a ‘captured’ room – meaning that the occupants could only enter through another room. Today, a outer door leads to the deck. This room has a queen-sized bed and ceiling fan. As it is part of the addition, the stone chimney and an area of original lap siding add interest to the room.
The surrounding area provides a wealth of activities. Cacapon State Park is 20 minutes away and offers horseback riding, boating and swimming in the lake, hiking, playgrounds, picnic areas and a golf course. Enjoy float trips, swimming, fishing, and boating on the nearby Cacapon River. Bike on the C&O Canal Towpath Rails To Trails path on the banks of the Potomac River in nearby Hancock, MD. Winter skiing and snowboarding is available at White Tail resort 45 minutes away, or at Blue Knob resort an hour and a half a away. Historic Harper’s Ferry is not far. You can walk through the town and visit the Civil War museums. Another activity in Harper’s Ferry is whitewater rafting or tubing on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Nearby Charles Town offers racing and slots. A new casino has opened at Rocky Gap Lodge, Flintstone, MD (near Cumberland, MD).
Keywords: Historic old farmhouse near Berkeley Springs, WV, Views of Sleepy Creek Mt., Wooded setting, rustic, rural, secluded