PERRYVILLE — While George Washington may be best remembered for his connection to Mount Vernon, Va., Cecil County residents are probably quite familiar with our first president’s many local connections.
Washington often came through Cecil and Harford counties while traveling the major 18th century transportation artery known as the Old Post Road, which is roughly a path similar to that which became Route 7 and later elements of U.S. Route 40.
He remarked in his diary on many of his visits where he stayed and who he met with from Warwick to Elkton to Perryville, and often recorded the hardships of travel, especially while using the ferryboat between Havre de Grace and Perryville on the Susquehanna River when the weather was adverse. He recorded dining in Warwick and staying in Elkton, then called the Head of Elk.
One of the most famous tales of Washington’s many sojourns in Cecil is that of August 1777, during the American Revolution, when he traveled through pouring rain to reach Delaware and finally Cecil County. He knew the British were sailing up the Chesapeake Bay and he wanted to observe the situation. Two days later, nearly 300 British ships would land at Elk Neck for a planned march on Philadelphia that led to the Battle of Brandywine.
During his reconnaissance mission, Washington stayed in Elkton at a Jacob Hollingsworth’s handsome hotel on Aug. 25, 1777. Two days later, after British Gen. William Howe landed his men at Elk Neck, he marched on Elkton and stayed in the very same room Washington had vacated. Indeed, Howe was tended by the same servant who had seen to Washington’s needs just 48 hours earlier.
For all of these connections to the Founding Father though, many Cecil County residents may not know of of Washington’s many personal hardships and achievements.
To help fill those gaps, the Rodgers Tavern Museum, a historic inn in Perryville where Washington was recorded to have stayed more than 30 times, will host a national traveling exhibition that examines the nuanced, real-life man behind the myth.
The museum, located at 259 Broad St. in Perryville, will host “The Many Faces of George Washington” from Thursday, June 20, to Sunday, July 14.
Originally produced in 2011 by George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, in conjunction with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the exhibition presents the many different facets of Washington’s leadership through color graphics of paintings, photographs, and iconic objects from the Mount Vernon collections.
“The Many Faces of George Washington” looks at Washington’s leadership in the exhibition’s seven sections: Virginia Childhood, Risk Taker, Realistic Visionary, Wise Decision Maker, Impassioned Learner, Visionary Entrepreneur, and At Home at Mount Vernon.
“Visitors can expect to learn about Washington’s life, presidency and post-presidency legacy through the seven standing panels,” said Marissa Cheifetz, exhibitions and public programming coordinator for Gilder Lehrman, a 25-year-old New York City nonprofit that creates programming and publications to teach American history.
The Washington exhibition is one of 11 such exhibitions that Gilder Lehrman loans to museum, public libraries, university libraries, and schools — last year 161 different sites hosted an exhibition, Cheifetz said.
Typically only open on Thursdays and Saturdays, the Rodgers Tavern Museum will be operating on an extended schedule during the exhibit: noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays, 3 to 6 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information about the museum, including upcoming events, visit its Facebook page or www.rodgerstavern.com, or call 410-642-2164.