County Comment: 2008 Historic Preservation Award

PHOTO CAP: L-R: Omer Long, Commissioner Terry Baker, Preston Law

County Comment
2008 Historic Preservation Award
by Norman Bassett, Public Information Officer
Washington County, Maryland

In its meeting on May 20th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners presented the 2008 John Frye Historic Preservation Award to Omer Long of Hagerstown, in recognition of efforts to promote historic preservation in Washington County.
Preston Law, former Chair of the Washington County Historical Advisory Committee told the Board that the Rural Heritage Museum at the Washington County Agricultural Museum will be adding the Fahrney Medical Museum to its collection in the near future. This small museum, currently located in an old wooden, one room cottage on the Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village grounds in Boonsboro, is a century-old Fahrney family heirloom. It owes its existence largely due to the personal dedication and efforts of 87- year old Omer Long.
In supporting information, Law wrote that Omer Long's grandmother was a Fahrney. She was a cousin to the Fahrneys who donated the original land for the Nursing Home, and she felt a strong duty to see that the Fahrney cottage co-located on the land be preserved in perpetuity. In time, this obligation fell to her grandson, Omer Long, and for the past 50 years he has single-handedly kept the cottage intact, making repairs, painting, fixing the roof, performing periodic inspections, and acting as curator of the museum inside.
The museum itself contains a superb display of antique medical implements, memorabilia, books, medicine bottles, prescriptions, and papers used by the Fahrney line of physicians in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Not related to the medical mementos, but fascinating in their own right, are several Civil War artifacts from the Battle of Antietam and local camping of the opposing armies around Sharpsburg. These relics were picked up and collected over the years on the Long family farms during plowing and cultivating, and are on display thanks to the foresight and generosity of Omer Long and his daughter, Law wrote.
For many years Omer Long opened the museum to the public each Tuesday. However, age and medical conditions caused him to close the building except by appointment. He is a little saddened for sentimental reasons to the see the building moved from its original Boonsboro location where it has resided and been cared for over a hundred years, to its new home at the Ag Center, but he feels it is for the best as it will then receive regular maintenance, and be viewed and appreciated by a large number of visitors day-to-day, Law said.
The Commissioners commended Long for his commitment to historic preservation.