A Statement of Purpose

Since 2012 I have been responsible for
the garden at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum on Antietam National Battlefield. The Pry House garden began as a 19th century style medicinal and kitchen garden, including medicinal plants, herbs, and vegetables. As close as possible, these plants mirrored those available to the Pry Family in the 1860s, meaning heirloom varieties. Since then, the garden has transformed to focus exclusively on medicinal plants, becoming an exhibit of the flora that was employed by military and civilian caregivers in the Civil War Era.

I am strictly an amateur, with no real experience in growing a garden. The purpose of this blog is to document my experiences as I learn by doing. It is anything but authoritative and I welcome any comments and advice for a greenhorn. Please be kind!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Taking Down the Fence

It has been something of a sad week for us at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum. Those of you who have visited us will probably remember that the house and yard were surrounded by a striking and attractive white picket fence. This was put in place about fifteen years ago to recreate the white picket fence which was there at the time of the Battle of Antietam in 1862.

Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to the recreated fence. It has deteriorated to the point of falling down in many places and becoming a very real safety hazard throughout its entire length.

Because of this, the National Park Service has deemed it necessary to remove the fence in its entirety. The staff of Antietam National Battlefield's Cultural Resources Division and volunteers from Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center have been hard at work dismantling the dilapidated fence this week. 

Knocking off the pickets. Some can be saved; others will be burned.

Digging out the concrete which was used to set the posts

Ranger K. C. Kirkman affixing the sign to the only fencing left standing

Park Superintendent Susan Trail visits the sight 

Ranger Keven Walker digging concrete
During the demolition it was discovered that the iron brackets holding the fence posts to the stone wall were very old, and quite possibly original to the Civil War period. To protect them and reduce them as a safety hazzard, park staff and volunteers built small wooden boxes to cover them.

What makes this sad for the Pry House is that this fence will not be replaced any time soon. Ideally, a new fence would be going in to replace this rotten one, but that would cost thousands of dollars and the money is just not there for Antietam National Battlefield. Money has been a concern for most National Parks for years now, but with the current sequester, times are desperate. As jobs and staffing are cut to the bare bones and preservation projects and interpretive programs are entirely scrapped, getting a new fence for the Pry House is not a possibility. Like so many effected by these Federal Government budget cuts, we are just going to have to learn to do without.

These means that the garden is looking a little different now too. I am going to need to devise a way to demarcate the edge of the garden that was bordered by the fence. If I had realized this would happen so soon, I might have chosen to rearrange the plants in the garden.

1 comment:

  1. This is so sad :( Now I'm extra glad that I finally got out there to see the Pry House last summer, when the fence was still standing.