Photo and Words By Shuan Butcher
Historic hotels provide travelers with a great way to connect to the local community’s sense of place, the unique architecture and ambiance that is inherent with the structure, and a break from the cookie-cutter chains that exist along every stop along the highway.
Here are a few suggestions in the Mid-Atlantic region you may want to consider:
Sitting on the porch of this hotel, overlooking historic Gettysburg Circle, it is not difficult to imagine early July 1863, when the thunder and smoke of the bloodiest battle in U.S. history raged across the surrounding fields and bluffs. President Lincoln honed the immortal words of his Gettysburg Address at the Wills House, just steps away. Built as a tavern in 1797, the Gettysburg Hotel witnessed the pivotal three-day battle of the Civil War. Nearly 100 years later, it served as President Dwight Eisenhower’s national operations center. The carefully restored hotel is the ideal base camp for touring the Gettysburg National Battlefield. On hot summer nights, there’s a roof-top pool (if you look close, you’ll see the sparkle of fireflies). While the guest rooms are modern, the main lobby, front porch, and McClellan’s Tavern are much like they would have been some 200 years ago.
Nestled at the foot of the rolling Catoctin Mountains in Central Maryland, historic Antrim 1844 is a unique country house hotel acclaimed for its cuisine and luxurious accommodations. Built in 1844, Antrim was once a thriving 2,500-acre plantation and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Antrim now occupies 24 acres of scenic countryside. The Greek Revival-style mansion with Federal influences houses the restaurant in the original smokehouse, as well as nine guest rooms, each featuring antique furnishings, canopy feather beds, marble baths and splendid views. Thirty additional guest rooms and suites are located in other historic outbuildings, including the Ice House, Cottage, Barn, Carriage House, Smith House, Birnie, Annan, Witherow, Zepp and Slonaker houses. Antrim 1844 was used as a headquarters by Gen. George Meade prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, in 1863.
Established in 1728, the Red Fox stands at the crossroads of Middleburg, Va., a historic village in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Bull Run mountains. Situated in a valley steeped in the lore of both the Revolutionary and the Civil wars, the Red Fox carries on traditions of days past by providing locals and travelers with a timeless setting. Here you can gather in the village, and enjoy hearty meals and rich conversation while experiencing the allure of the 18th century. Throughout the years, the inn has been used for numerous notable events and remains a popular destination for anyone seeking a romantic hideaway in the heart of Hunt Country. The J.E.B. Stuart Room once served as the stage for a rare press conference by President John F. Kennedy and as a meeting room for hopeful Democrats hosted by Ambassador Pamela Harriman, a local foxhunting resident. Elizabeth Taylor often graced the Tap Room both during the courtship and after her marriage to a local gentleman, Sen. John Warner. The lovely and kind Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis frequently stayed at the inn during foxhunting holidays each fall.