But across the street, Liberty Hall, known to locals as Stonewall Jackson's headquarters, is still a proud and stately brick home shaded by large trees. One of the finest houses in town, even today. No wonder old Stonewall took it over when he and his Confederates occupied Romney in January 1862.
We check out some of the remnants of that occupation (and the nine to 55 others) over at Taggart Hall, which, despite the grand-sounding name, is just an 18th-century clapboard half-house that's now home to a (very) small Civil War museum. If you're getting the idea that a lot of Romney is about the Civil War, you're not wrong. And here's where it stood: When West Virginia broke away from the Old Dominion over the war, Hampshire County had to go along, but it sort of went kicking and screaming. Most town residents stuck to their Southern-sympathizing guns. Like the Davises, who let the rebs use their home as a meeting place and whose three sons fought for the South. (Well, one later joined the North. They called him a turncoat, natch.)
We learn this at the Davis History House, a 1795 log house next door to the Hampshire County Public Library, which owns it. We have to go there to ask someone to let us in. Someone turns out to be Norma Bowyer, a town booster if ever there was one. She's full of great info about Romney's highlights and eager for us to see them all. So eager, in fact, that we've barely stepped inside the Davis house before she's sending us off to see the stained-glass windows at the First United Methodist Church - even calling the pastor to let us in. (They do that kind of thing here in small-town Romney.)
The church, built in 1903, is graceful, with an intact tin ceiling, and the windows sure are pretty. But I'm most entertained by pastor Roy Knight's account of his recent trip to San Francisco. Every time he'd pull out his green Bank of Romney credit card to pay for something, he'd get the same comment: "So that's where he gets all his money." Ba-da-boom.
After a quick tour of the Davis house (the primitive upstairs bedrooms are my favorite part), we head down to Indian Mound Cemetery to see both the Indian mound, an ancient Native American burial site, and the Confederate memorial, the first in the nation to be erected after the war (in 1867). It's fairly haunting, an obelisk topped by a shrouded urn. The whole place, of course, is pretty haunting, not least because it's literally in the backyard of the Romney School. If I know kids, they love that.
The next day, we plan to head out to Fort Mill Ridge, a Civil War (of course) redoubt that boasts some of the best-preserved earthworks from the conflict. And we'll want to drop in at Mountain Tyme Arts and Crafts, up near the Potomac Eagle station (for the sightseeing train that's the main reason most folks come to - or through - Romney), to check out the work of local artists.
But first we take a walking tour of more of the town's historic homes and buildings. We're on Rosemary Lane, making for Romney Presbyterian Church (wait, isn't he Mormon? ba-bing!), which was used as a, yes, Civil War hospital, when I spy it.
On a front lawn across the street. A presidential placard.