The view is spectacular as a constant parade of sail and power boats cruise nine miles on the winding Sassafras River from the Chesapeake Bay to the twin towns of Georgetown and Fredericktown, Maryland. Sitting with a drink in hand at sunset on the deck of the Kitty Knight House, the bend in the river is a tranquil spot today. There’s no hint that 200 years ago it reflected flames that devoured the neighboring towns as British warships anchored just offshore. It was the War of 1812, and Admiral Sir George Cockburn, the man who burned the White House, had just torched Havre de Grace to the north and on May 6th was lighting up Georgetown. Few buildings remained untouched. The Kitty Knight House was one. On the weekend of May 3rd to 5th, the region will celebrate “The Legend of Kitty Knight.”
So who was this Kitty Knight? The official version portrays her as a lady of great breeding and bearing, meaning she had money and property. She was also a rare beauty who pleaded with the Admiral to spare the Georgetown homes. Local lore suggests that she may have used some friendly persuasion. Nevertheless, we will celebrate, and a 90 minute drive from Center City will yield a plethora of events from harbor tours, a 5k run and a costume ball to a scavenger hunt and live music at an outdoor beer garden. It all starts on Friday evening, May 3rd. – Jay Lloyd
WHAT YOU’LL FIND
Drink a toast to the lady who confronted the daunting British Admiral at “four bells” (6 p.m.) on the deck of her namesake house, now a popular restaurant and inn. Watch fireworks over the harbor and tuck into a buffet supper for the ever imaginative price of $18.12. Hopefully, you’re in an 1812 costume by then for an evening of dancing. Reservations can be made at: www.kittyknight.com
The celebration continues on Saturday, May 4th and moves to the nearby town of Galena, the finishing point of 5k Dogwood Festival run and the Dogwood Festival Parade.
The dogwood-lined streets of this 18th century village provide the inspiration for a festival that coincides with the War of 1812 commemoration. An outdoor beer garden will be operating with music, crafts, local displays and a vintage car show.
Sunday, May 5th begins with a breakfast at the Kitty Knight House, harbor tours, a petting zoo for the kids, a scavenger hunt and a dramatic re-enactment of that legendary confrontation between Kitty and Admiral Cockburn. For his part, Cockburn doesn’t seem to recall Kitty in his journal, but does remember his ships being fired on by the good citizens of the region. He notes that his “launches and rocket boats warmly returned the fire.”
WHERE TO STAY
If you can score a room at the Kitty Knight House, you’ll be at the heart of the fun. Each of the 11 rooms in this grand 18th century home is meticulously preserved and furnished to create a period image. Some of the rooms have water views and all have private baths. The price ranges from $115 to $180 a night and includes breakfast.
Another favorite spot is about half an hour away in Rock Hall, MD. The Osprey Inn is located on scenic Swan Creek. This Colonial-style inn and restaurant offers elegantly furnished rooms in the main building and more contemporary furnishings at the neighboring Farmhouse and a nearby annex. Weekend rates are currently ranging from $175 to $280 a night.
You can find the familiar Comfort Inn and Holiday Inn Express in Chestertown, MD, just 20 minutes from Georgetown. The area is also rich in bed and breakfast accommodations.
The are several ways of getting to Georgetown and Galena. I prefer heading south on I-95 to the exit for Route 896 South. Follow 896 South which becomes Route 301 South. Take 301 South to the exit for Route 290 West. At the exit ramp, turn right onto 290 and go to the traffic light at Route 213 in Galena. Turn right. Georgetown is a mile north on Route 213. The Kitty Knight House is on the left. If you reach the drawbridge, you’ve gone a few blocks too far.
This is an easy day trip, but staying for the weekend gives you a chance to enjoy more of the activities and the beer garden. You’ll also have time to explore a lightly traveled region, rich in getaway possibilities.
To see the full schedule of events Kitty Knight events, visit: http://kentcounty1812.org/extravaganza-planned-to-celebrate-bicentennial-of-kitty-knight