Written By Patricia Bianca

Taneytown may be the oldest town in Carroll County, but it is by no means the largest. With a population of just above 6,000 barely evident from its main thoroughfare, more than one passerby has dubbed it Tiny-town. But what this burg lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character, history and recreation. There truly is more to Taneytown than meets the eye.

Nestled in the rolling farmlands of northwest Carroll County and just three miles south of the Mason-Dixon line, Taneytown has enjoyed a rich and extensive history. It was founded in 1754 when land speculators Raphael Taney (said to be a distant relative of Chief Justice Roger Taney of Dred Scott case fame) and Edward Diggs received 7,900 acres under a patent grant known as the Resurvey of Brothers Agreement. Shortly afterward, the two men designed the town, which they laid out in a 60-acre T-shape.

Over the past two and a half centuries, Taneytown’s community was strengthened by settlers of Scotts-Irish and German descent, which may explain the unique pronunciation of the town’s name, i.e., “Tawneytown.” The immigrants established businesses, farms and church congregations, some of which survive to this day.

George Washington spoke favorably about his brief visit to Taneytown in 1791, and Francis Scott Key spent considerable time there. His family’s farm, Terra Rubra, sits less than five miles away. Among Taneytown’s more illustrious residents are famed clockmaker Eli Bentley and chair maker John Slagenhaupt.

Taneytown’s proximity to Gettysburg gave the town an integral role in that definitive Civil War battle. In fact, it is said that it was General George E. Meade’s intent to fight the battle in Taneytown, but General Lee could not be persuaded to march south.

Instead, Meade’s men made use of the town’s accommodations and employed the steeple of the Lutheran church as a signal tower. It is also rumored that the famed Antrim 1844 Country Inn was employed as a lookout post.

It is no wonder then that the current residents of this community, many of whom have extensive ancestry in the area, work so hard to preserve their rich heritage and small town flavor. Taneytown boasts a number of non-profit organizations, and many town residents–business owners, retirees, housewives and even college students–serve on more than one of them . It seems as if everyone gets involved.

Taneytown’s Director of Economic Development, Nancy B. McCormick, chuckles at the comparison to television’s Mayberry, but doesn’t deny it either. “We’re a community that smiles at visitors and helps them out if they’re looking for directions or something to do,” she said. “We socialize together. One of our strengths, I think, is that we’re a community that works together – our non-profits, our schools, and our businesses – on various projects. We all pitch in É and we’re fun!”

The town is replete with colorful personalities, which makes visiting even the most humble shop or restaurant an enjoyable experience, but no one represents the small town character of Taneytown as well as its mayor, W. Robert Flickinger.

Mayor Flickinger, unlike many of his ilk, is very easy to find. The mayor, or Bob as he is known to his good friends, is often seen around town, mowing lawns, chowing down at the retro Ice Cream Shack or attending one of the many local events with his charming wife, Fairy. Although he is a man of few words in print, he’s a gregarious, outgoing guy who is so intent on being available to his constituency that he publishes his home phone number in the town’s monthly newsletter.

At age 70, Bob is typical of the lively seniors of this community. In addition to serving as mayor, he’s an active member of his church, the local Lion’s Club, Taneytown Recreation Council, Heritage Committee, Volunteer Fire Department and more. Born and raised in Taneytown, he spent 23 years as City Councilman and served a previous term as mayor for five years. And like Bob, there aren’t many porch-sitters in this town.

More recent efforts by this hardworking community make visiting Taneytown a special treat for those who enjoy history, shopping, or even the outdoors.

One of the more recent additions to Taneytown’s downtown is the Taneytown History Museum. A joint project between the Taneytown Heritage Committee and the Taneytown Chamber of Commerce, the museum houses a delightful collection of art and artifacts from the town’s past. Some of its treasures include an original Eli Bentley grandfather clock and a Mason-Dixon Line marker.

Another recently completed project is the Heritage Committee’s selfguided walking tour brochure, which is available at the City Office or the Visitor Center at Every Bloomin’ Thing on York Street. Taneytown has an amazing array of historic buildings, many of which have recently been renovated. From the elegantly simple Old Stone Tavern on Frederick Street, thought to have been built around 1761, to some of its glorious brick Victorians and historic churches, Taneytown boasts diversity and craftsmanship in its architecture.

Of course, the jewel in Taneytown’s structural crown has to be the amazing Antrim 1844 Country Inn. Built in 1844 by Col. Andrew E. Ege, the Greek Revival mansion currently houses one of the finest country inns in Maryland and is surrounded by a first class banquet facility and some of the most gorgeous gardens you’ll ever see.

Antrim 1844 currently offers 29 spectacular sleeping rooms located in the mansion and in various outer buildings. “Every room is different – good or bad,” jokes General Manager John Vonnes. “It’s good because everybody is looking for something different, but if you can imagine taking a reservation É you call most places and they ask you if you want a king or queen. Here, it’s the amenities people are looking for. Do you want a jacuzzi, a steam shower, or so forth? It can make the reservation process a little lengthy.”

None of his guests seem to be complaining. In fact, Antrim 1844 plays host to more than 100 weddings a year and, unlike many other inns, is open every day except Christmas. Its restaurant serves the very finest gourmet food seven nights a week, and reservations are definitely encouraged.

Those who enjoy shopping will love Taneytown’s quaint stores and restaurants. The town has several antique and gift shops that offer unique items, charming atmosphere, and lots of conversation.

Shopkeepers in Taneytown are far from harried, which is what attracted entrepreneur Rick Galloway to town. “The small businesses here allow you to walk in, meet the owner, talk about the products, and do it in a leisurely fashion,”said Rick. “I like to think of the businesses here as true extensions of the community.”

Rick is owner of Crossroad Emporium, one of the latest additions to downtown. The emporium houses several vendors that sell books, musical instruments and CDs, artwork, picture framing and more. Rick and his vendors are working hard to elevate the shop to the status of a cultural center. His events often tie in to the live entertainment featured across the street at the popular Irish Moon CafŽ.

Rick Galloway, like many of the business owners in Taneytown, also works on a town committee. He is busy planning Taneytown’s major Artscape event, which will take place on June 25, weather permitting.

The entire downtown area will be peppered with live bands of all kinds, art displays and demonstrations, performance artists, dancers, authors, food vendors, artisan demonstrations, children’s games, art and more.

Of course, being a largely agricultural community, there are plenty of green, open spaces for tree huggers, kids, and outdoorsmen in Taneytown. Within its city limits, the tiny town features four spacious parks, which offer all manner of sports fields, picnic pavilions, playgrounds for the kids, and even a stocked pond for fishing that is fed by a natural spring. The town plans to add a biking and hiking trail to Roberts Mill Park this summer.

As you can see, there’s a lot to do and see in Taneytown, but make sure to allot a good amount of time for your visit because people here sure do like to talk – and you won’t want to miss a word.