America's Second Most Beautiful Municipal Natural Park

America's Second Most Beautiful Municipal Natural Park

The City Park in Hagerstown is often referred to as "America's second most beautiful municipal natural park". The park's centerpiece is a 50-acre lake, home for more than 250 waterfowl. The park makes for a wonderful afternoon getaway anytime of year.
Also on the grounds:
Jonathan Hager House. Also known as "Hager's Fancy", was built of uncut fieldstones carefully fitted by the young German immigrant, Jonathan Hager, who had traveled to the wilderness of Western Maryland in search of adventure and fortune. Traveling from the Port of Philadelphia, Hager had arrived on the shores of the new colonies in 1736. In 1740, Hager presented the newly built house, uniquely constructed with a protected spring-fed water supply, to his bride Elizabeth Kershner. He was an active participant of the community as a farmer and gunsmith. The house, in period condition, is open for tours throughout the year.
The Mansion House. Situated on top of a grassy hill overlooking one of the most beautiful city parks in America is a Georgian-style mansion house. Known as the Mansion House, this gem with its welcoming wrap-around porch and cheerful appearance is located in Hagerstown City Park. John Heyser, miller-horticulturist, home builder, artist, began building this gigantic yellow and white house in 1843 using bricks made from the mud of the swan inhabited lake that the house currently overlooks. John Heyser named his creation Cedar Lawn because of the red cedars that line the path in the front of the house.
The House opened on August 30, 1991 as an art gallery and control center for the Valley Art Association, originally formed in 1938. Visitors can view and purchase the works of over twenty local artists. In addition to serving as a gallery, the Mansion House also is used for classes and a meeting place for the Valley Art Association.
The Hagerstown Railroad Museum. This museum features hundreds of signs, signals, bells, telephones and tools that were used by railroad workers every day. Most of the items in this notable collection came from the Western Maryland Railroad Company. Of special interest are an 1885 Pump Car, an 1875 Velocipede, a coal tender, and eight cabooses.
The top attraction in the museum is Steam Engine 202, a 77-foot locomotive weighting 415,000 pounds, built in 1912 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. This locomotive carried passengers and baggage between Baltimore and Hagerstown before retiring in 1953. Steam Engine 202 is the only Western Maryland road-type steam locomotive still in existence. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, May-September.
Museum of Fine Arts. Here, visitors can tour a modern building with portraits from the past. Old Masters, American paintings, sculptures, textiles, and Oriental art are well represented in the Museum's permanent collection. New showings take place every two months which features new artists, ethnic collections and travelling exhibits. Sunday afternoon chamber music recitals are a Museum tradition.
Art, weaving, and photography classes for children are among the Museum's most popular classes, with a family film festival and children's art festival offered each summer. The Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday with the gift shop open year-round.
Little Known Facts
Hagerstown City Park once sat on marsh-like land. This swampy area, known as Heyser's Woods, was the designated ground for the first Hagerstown Fair on October 13, 1854. Interestingly, Confederate and Union forces used Heyser's Woods to camp on during the Civil War. John Heyser, builder of the Mansion House, was murdered while traveling in Florida during 1882. Alexander and William Armstrong bought the land. Alexander later gave his share of the land to his brother William, who in 1890 sold the land to the West End Improvement Company where factories operated until 1915 when the City of Hagerstown purchased the land for $40,000 and began construction on the City Park. The swamp was drained, creating the lower lake, and landscaper George Burnap set to creating the park, as we know it today.
The Park also hosts Sunday evening (8PM) concerts by the Hagerstown Municipal Band from June through August at the Bandshell. The Bandshell that now rests in the City Park was built in 1960, replacing the 1936-built Bandshell that was moved to Wheaton Park. Local gospel singers, celebrations and services through area churches and Hagerstown's annual Blues-Fest also take place here. With enough park benches to seat 500 individuals and an open lawn for those blanketers, the Bandshell offers ample seating for entertaining.
Hagerstown's City Park, located at 501 Virginia Avenue.