On a recent visit to Western Maryland, my husband and I stopped in the Garrett County Historical Society Museum in Oakland. It’s chock full of memorabilia from every age back to when Native Americans traveled on what is now Route 219. I loved seeing the old tools, a log cabin recreated at the back of the museum and railroad artifacts. It all revs up my storytelling juices.
What really excited me during this visit though, were mementos from the Deer Park Hotel and the honeymoon of President Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom. The honeymooners provided an elegant moment of romance and celebrity and the museum remembers it well.
You see, I include a bit of history from that presidential visit in my as-yet unpublished contemporary romance INN AT THE LAKE. (I’ve got queries out right now. Cross your fingers.)
From the photos, newspaper account and an essay from the historical society’s own newsletter, I plan to tweak my story to express more fully the excitement created by the presence of these famous people.
The Deer Park, now remembered mostly by its bottled water, was a luxurious hotel for the famous, the powerful and the well-heeled. The tiny stone church in town is still known as the “church of the presidents” because so many visited here in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
In 2020, the area is best known for Deep Creek Lake, the Wisp ski resort and an abundance of mountain, forest, river and lake for all kinds of outdoors adventures. Vacation rentals make it perfect for just getting away for a weekend reading by the fire or scribbling a new chapter to a work in progress.
So I can’t imagine the excitement produced when the president of the United States arrived with his new wife to celebrate their nuptials. But newspaper articles, small remembrances and bits of ephemera have added to how I imagined their visit to be.
I spent a long time poring over the mementos in this charming museum, thinking dreaming, imagining how it was and how I’ll present it in my new book. Some things never change. We still love romance, weddings, elegance and a hint of celebrity, don’t we?