Clarysville Inn

The Historic Clarysville Inn
A Tribute

Courtesy of Martin Strouber.

The scene in this postcard is taken from a lithograph housed at the Allegany County Historical Society. During the Civil War, the Inn served as a military hospital. Surrounding the Inn are numerous one story buildings constructed by the military and long since demolished. The only two story building in the picture, located to the left of the flagpole, is the Clarysville Inn. Before the war, this Inn had been serving the travelers along the National Highway for more than 50 years.

It is generally believed that the Inn was built in 1807 by Gerald Clary. Helen Straw Hinkle, in her research, sites survey records supporting this date. The Clarysville Inn served as a stagecoach stop, and as such, attained a prestige not accorded the wagoneer stops. According to Thomas B. Searight, in his history of the national road, stagecoach drivers and the inns that served the coach lines were considered to be in a "higher class" than wagoneers and the establishments catering to their needs. But the wagoneers knew how and where to have more fun.

Enlargement from lithograph 1864.

In 1894, Mr Searight observation of the Inn was: "Eight miles west from Cumberland Aden Clary, Gerald's nephew kept [an inn]. His house was a large and commodious brick building on the south side of the road, and is still standing. There was not a more popular house on the road than Aden Clary's." Later he points out that Aden Clary was well known in the early history of the road.

From Heritage Press, courtesy of
the Preservation Society

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Mary Townsend is said to have convinced her husband, M.M. Townsend, MD to use the Inn as a hospital. Dr Townsend established the hospital and continued to serve there when the army assigned a military commander to oversee operations at the hospital.

Courtesy of Lee Schwartz & Al Feldstein

As Allegany County moved toward the 20th century, ever expanding railroad service for goods and passengers, significantly impacted the traffic patterns on the National Road. The technological advances of the era gradually altered the nature and the volume of all businesses on the National Road.

The two pictures which follow are believed to be late 1800's vintage. Both photos reveal that the Inn is showing it's age, but none-the-less managed to maintain it's popularity.

Courtesy of Lee Schwartz & Al Feldstein

This photo, circa 1895, is here through the generosity of Tom Cecil and Charles Hill.
Click here for 300KB GIF version.

Take a close look at these two pictures. You will find many similarities and enough differences to be certain that some time has passed between the photographs. However, with the exception of some obvious aging, little has changed since the time of the Civil War.

By the fall of 1914, when Robert Bruce traveled the National Road, work on the Inn had already begun. Note that the roof no longer extends over the porch, and it appears that the upper porch has been replaced.

Photo by J.K. Lacock, from "The National Road" by Robert Bruce
Contributed by Mel Collins,Preservation Society of Allegany County

Some time during the Roaring '20, the Inn's face lift continues. Take a look at the photo below, from the collection of Walter Neff. It is now the late 1920's.


Courtesy of Lee Schwartz & Al Feldstein


The beloved Clarysville Inn underwent another major facelift as is evidenced in the postcard below. The semi-circular porch, which replaced the full length porches of the past, graced the front entrance to the Inn to the present. The exact date of this final transformation is yet to be established, but the postcard appears to be from the 1940's or early 1950's. Help establishing this date would be appreciated.

From the postcard collection of Mel Collins

We are in the process of collecting additional information about the Clarysville Inn, and will add it to the site whenever it becomes available. Contributions to this collection, in the form of additions, corrections or observations, are always welcome, and may be sent to Carol Askey. The main reason we have undertaken this effort is that on March 10, 1999, this historic Allegany County landmark was lost to future generations.

The Cumberland Times-News published articles about the destructive fire and the magnificent history of the Inn, and have graciously granted us permission to reprint the articles on this site. Click on the picture below for more about how this Inn has been a living landmark to 20th century Alleganians.


The Final Photos


A Pictorial History Allegany County, by Lee G. Schwartz, Albert Feldstein and Joan H. Baldwin, 1980

The Old Pike: A history of The National Road, by Thomas B. Searight, 1894

The National Road, by Robert Bruce, for the National Highway Association, 1916
Contributed by Mel Collins, Sec/Treas Preservation Society of Allegany County

Heritage Press, June, 1972, Vol. 1, No.8

Postcard Collection of Mel Collins.

Cumberland Times-News, March 10 & 11,1999, Online Edition.


Carol Askey 1999