Main Streets 2016: Maryland
Patrick Street’s most famous moment was one of defiance. The city was a major crossroads of the Civil War, and in September 1862, Stonewall Jackson led his Confederate infantry along this street en route to a series of clashes that would end nearby at Antietam, in the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. Legend has it that in Frederick, local women booed the rebels as they passed — and one, Barbara Fritchie, either stood in the street or leaned out an upstairs window, waving an American flag. Today her reconstructed home on Patrick Street is the Barbara Fritchie House and Museum.
That’s far from the only reminder of the past in Frederick, which has been the county seat since 1742 and where, say the city’s promoters, “hip meets historic every day.” For example, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine is also on Patrick Street. So is the Weinberg Center for the Arts, which presents theatre, dance and music, from classical to bluegress, plus vintage movies and more.
Frederick has been absorbing rapid growth in recent years as commuters move outward from the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Set in a scenic spot just east of the eastern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the city has been called the gateway to western Maryland. Patrick Street is its primary east-west corridor, with Market Street its north-south counterpart. On Patrick, you’ll find antique stores, boutiques and clothing shops that range from fine to funky, art galleries, craft stores and studios, a bookshop, cafés, a tea room and quite a few pubs and dining options. You can eat American, Italian, Irish, New York deli-style — even Ethiopian.
And there’s a whole lot more to the city center. Hood College is downtown, as is family-friendly ballpark Harry Grove Stadium, home of the Frederick Keys, a minor-league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The team is named for Francis Scott Key, the Frederick County native who composed the Star-Spangled Banner, and was a friend of Barbara Ritchie. The city hosts a very full schedule of concerts, festivals and special events. One downtown highlight, every August, is the country’s only high-wheel bicycle race.
The more you look, the more that “hip meets historic” sounds like just the right slogan for downtown Frederick.
All photos courtesy of C. Kurt Holter – Visit Frederick