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February 2015 Edition

Washington Slept Here – Part 1

For centuries a wide trail ran the length of the Shenandoah Valley, cut by generations of Native Americans as a migration route.  The tiny cluster of houses called Fredericktowne bordered the trail roughly 30 miles south of the great Potomac River.  Built in a forest surrounding the town run no more than 60 structures existed in the mid 1750’s.  One was a small log building located just east of the trail and 100 yards south of the run.  It was erected by George Washington as an office for surveying and headquarters for the tiny militia that trained in the field between the structure and the run. Lying west of the training field, across the trail stood Heath’s Inn.

Granted license to open the inn by the Frederick court in 1755 Henry Heath’s establishment was one of three existing taverns at the time.  It was a large log structure with an open first floor and ten sleeping rooms above.  The kitchen for the inn was housed in a small stone cottage off the north side.  The charge for a hot meal was equivalent to 8 cents, a cold meal 5, and a night’s lodging 4.  The rates as well as the amenities for a tavern were tightly regulated by the court often requiring a percentage of the beds be feather with clean sheets; the proprietor was granted permission to charge an additional 2 cents for the upgrade.  Heath’s had seven such luxury rooms.  One of which was kept by young Washington for nearly 3 years.

Heath’s Inn was located where Braddock Street Methodist Church stands today.  The parking lot across Braddock was once the training field for Washington’s militia. Washington’s office is on the corner of Cork and Braddock.