A Farm is Born
Three miles southeast of Friendsville, MD lies a parcel of land known as Elder Hill. While those frequenting our blog have come to know this area as Chanteclaire Farm, a breathtaking haven for elegant country weddings, the history of the spot runs much deeper.
Friendsville was named for it’s first European settler, John Friend. If you spend any time in Garrett County, you are sure to run into several people with the surname Friend. John first entered the area known to the Shawnee as the Hunter’s Bowl in the mid-1700’s. By the 1820s lumber, coal, mining, and the railroad created a population big enough to sustain restaurants, saloons, three hotels, and an opera house.
John’s grandson, Jonathan, purchased what is now Chanteclaire Farm in 1835 and had built the log cabin for himself and his family by 1840.
Jon was known for building sides so straight you could immediately cover them with siding. This is why, from the outside, the cabin looks sided, but inside you see the original log and chinking. Our favorite part of the cabin, by far, is the attic. Take a peek up there and you’ll see tree trunks, still with their bark, holding up the roof.
By the late 1970s the cabin had fallen into disrepair. In 1981 a Garrett County native who spent his childhood at the farm began restoring the cabin. He dismantled the fascia of the cabin, rebuilt its supports, and then replaced every board and stone exactly as it had been. To maintain historical integrity, each board and stone was numbered as it was removed, and replaced in its exact original location.
In 1870 Jon’s son built the bank barn in which we dine and dance today. At this point the farm was fully productive, with cows in the lower level and hay upstairs.
By 1896 Jon’s grandson was now involved in the family farm, and they were prosperous enough to build the farmhouse where today’s brides love to ready themselves.
These buildings are surrounded by half a dozen outbuildings holding farm equipment and sundries. The old carriage house is a favorite for photos – you can still picture bringing horses to it and attaching them to the carriage for a ride into town. Below, a cooling room stored milk and other goods the family wanted to be able to dip into the passing stream to keep cold.
Our connection to the community through the Friend family homes is one we cherish. John Friend’s descendants founded the Friend Family Association 40 years ago, including the National Headquarters and Family History Museum, both located in Friendsville, MD. For more information, please visit their website at www.friendfamilyassociation.com.