Overnight Guests of Grantsville, Maryland

Less than three hours from the big city bustle of Baltimore and Washington DC, Grantsville is home to 1,000 residents and host to visitors seeking country respite.

Travelers are not strangers to this quiet, western Maryland town. In the 1800s, the area was a stagecoach stop along the National Road, a route which created a pass through the Appalachian Mountains to the Ohio Valley westward. In those days, road-weary souls often stayed at The Casselman Inn—a National Register Historic Place that is still open to guests.

Although a new route (US 40) has long since replaced the Old National Road, the original route still passes through Grantsville—and passes by The Casselman Inn.

I had the pleasure of staying at the Inn recently with some of my family—partly in honor of my parents’ 49th wedding anniversary (wow, right?) and partly because of the town’s annual Christmas in the Village. … But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the Casselman.

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The Casselman Inn is second generation family-owned and operated.

Come on "inn" and I'll show you around.

Come on “inn” and I’ll show you around. (photo credit: Lisa Morrison)

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The front parlor, with its deep window seats, is simple and charming.

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The Inn has been known by many names over the years, including Dorsey’s Inn. The two-room Dorsey Hotel Suite is the crown jewel of the Inn.

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One of the sitting areas in the Dorsey Suite.

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The Dorsey Suite mixes modern conveniences with antique elements.

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The Inn offers two more rooms (such as this one), plus 40 rooms in the motor lodge next door.

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Christmastime is a great time to visit The Casselman Inn. — Grantsville, MD

About a quarter mile down the Pike is Penn Alps Restaurant and Spruce Forest Artisan Village, which hosts the annual Christmas in the Village (now in its 31st year), and features local artisans and their wares. Here are a few photos from this year’s event:

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The circa 1776 Glotfelty House is now a weaver’s studio. (Hurry sundown for the lighting of the luminaries!)

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Looking through the window of Lynn Lais’ pottery studio, some of his lovely work is on display along the windowsill. Nary a year goes by that my parents don’t buy a piece or two from this talented potter. (In fact, that’s my Mom and my sister inside purchasing their pieces.)

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The woodturner’s studio, a circa 1913 schoolhouse, was bedecked in laser lights. Incidentally, I have an exquisite (and functional!) rolling pin from this artisan (Gene Gillespie) that features a multi-colored design of local and exotic woods.

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Spruce Forest Artisan Village with all the luminaries lit.

Walking around the Village can work up an appetite. The adjacent Penn Alps Restaurant provides stick-to-your-ribs comfort food as well as lighter fare for those thus inclined. I wasn’t thus inclined. I savored every bite of my oh-so-tender hot roast beef sandwich, real mashed potatoes and gravy, and almost-as-good-as-Mom’s cup of German vegetable soup.

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I’ll spare you a food photo and show you the Christmas tree in the entry of Penn Alps Restaurant — Grantsville, MD

For the after-dinner sweet tooth, a little further down the Pike is the Hilltop Fruit Market. But don’t let the name fool you—it’s home to Candyland, too!

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The Hilltop Fruit Market, home of the illustrious Candyland, is located along the National Pike in Grantsville, MD. (There are at least two more rows of candy not shown in this picture! Some of it is old fashioned candy or hard to find, or both!)

With visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads, our sleep was sweet and we awoke to the smell of sticky buns baking and bacon crisping. Breakfast at The Cassleman Restaurant was free with our stay. I’m not sure which was more enjoyable, the food or the delightful conversation we had with the locals at a nearby table.

While the bustle of busy-ness has its place, (indeed, those who made our stay memorable were working quite hard to do so!), there is much to be said for slowing down and savoring the moment. This Christmas, I hope you are able to slow down and enjoy the season. (In fact, I hope that I am able to slow down and enjoy the season!) And for those, like Charlie Brown, who find themselves asking, “Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?”, this scene along Main Street in Grantsville beautifully depicts the reason for Christmas:

Grantsville_Nativity_Scene

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” — Luke 2:11

Noel & Light

Today is my younger sister Lisa’s birthday. To us, she was a Christmas baby. In fact, her middle name is Noel.

The word “noel” dates back to the late 14th century. It comes from the Old French word nael, which means “Christmas season.” In turn, nael was derived from the Latin word natalis (birthday) and refers to the birth of Christ. [1]

My sister loves Christmas and decorates her house—inside and out—with lights and trees, transforming it into a twinkling wonderland. This year, I have been increasingly moved by the sight of Christmas lights. By them, I am reminded of Christ, who is the Light of the World. [2]

Last weekend, my younger sister and I, along with our Mom and Dad, took a trip to Grantsville, Maryland. It’s the home of Spruce Forest’s “Christmas in the Village” annual event. Here’s a picture of my sister and me outside one of the historic houses in the village:

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Here, my sister Lisa (right) and I are sitting outside the Glotfelty House, built in 1776 and rebuilt here in Spruce Forest Artisan Village in 1972. A local weaver works and displays her art here. (photo by T. Sullivan)

On our way back, we passed through several rural communities. Places like Midland and Elk Lick Run. We passed this beautiful light display:

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A Midland, Maryland, Christmas greeting. …It was a rainy night, and my sister liked how the flash on the raindrops added a wintry element to this photo.

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Peace on earth: The “O” of the Midland, Maryland Christmas greeting.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:5 (ESV)


[1] Online Entomology Dictionary
[2] John 8:12; John 9:5; John 12;26

Scenes of Christmas: Christmas in the Village at Penn Alps

Today my parents celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary.  (Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad, Dad and Mom!)  One of the things my parents like to do this time of year in celebration of their anniversary and the Advent is to attend the annual holiday party at The Artisan Village at Penn Alps in Grantsville,  Maryland.

‘Christmas in the Village’ is a time of celebration that showcases the region’s arts and heritage. Resident artisans and guest artists demonstrate their skills and sell their crafts, such as pottery, ironworks and jewelry, in historic cabins decorated with greenery and lights.  Hundreds of candles line the paths of the Village; and if the weather is just right, snow touches the ground.  It did just that in 2005:

Mom and Dad at Penn Alps' Christmas in the Village.  2005

Mom and Dad at Penn Alps’ Christmas in the Village. 2005