Let's Get Down to Business - Casselman Inn

Last Updated on Jun 11, 2014 at 4:20pm | Tourism & Recreation

Let's Get Down to Business! is a regular feature of The Republican newspaper and is being reprinted here in its entirety with permission. This article originally appeared in the June 5, 2014 issue.

A month-long celebration is currently under way in Grantsville in recognition of a unique milestone: the historic Casselman Inn has been under the ownership of the Miller family for 50 years.
It was originally built in 1842 on the "Cornucopia" tract on which Grantsville is now located. In the 1840s, travelers arrived on foot, on horseback, by wagon, or by carriage. They brought their own blankets and bedding and shared floor space with other travelers. Drovers on the National Road also found overnight accommodations for their horses, herds of cattle, and flocks of turkey and sheep. Cooking for the innkeeper's family and the public was done in an open fireplace.
Over the years, the inn was called the Drover's Inn, Farmer's Hotel, Dorsey's Hotel, and finally, the Casselman. It had already seen more than century of service when the late Ivan J. and Della Miller purchased it from Joseph and Wilda Fahey in 1964.
The kitchen was very small at the time, yet Della managed cooking, baking, and handwashing dishes with minimal help. Ivan served as innkeeper, maintenance man, and co-manager with Della. He was very knowledgeable about local history and enjoyed sharing that information with guests.
The Millers added a dining room, bake shop, and 40-unit motel. For a time, they also had an antique shop.
At one point, the family formed a corporation including the couple's 10 children. Six members survive today, including four who are local - Miriam, Joanna, Ruth, and Stephen.
David lives in Ohio and Dorcas in Pennsylvania.
Joanna remembers that in the early weeks, the family was excited to have 10 paying customers in one day. Last June, the restaurant averaged 388 customers per day.
A garden on the front lawn and east side of the inn was created as a memorial to the late Philip I. Miller, a brother of the Miller family. Flowers from the garden are used to decorate the restaurant tables during the summer months.
Joanna noted that Philip was still in high school when he spotted the "for sale" sign on the restaurant and went home and told his parents that he thought it was a nice place, and they should buy it.
The family also continues to remember other siblings who have died - Esther, Rachel, Timothy.
Another interesting fact Joanna mentioned is that her grandfather, Ivan's father Jonas B. Miller, was actually born in the old inn in 1870, since his family lived there while their house was being finished.
The Miller family invites the public to help celebrate the anniversary by enjoying select items (Mondays through Thursdays) at prices listed on their early menus. Plans are to continue specials throughout the month of June.
For example, Monday's offerings include vegetable soup for 25 cents and hot peppermint tea or coffee for 10 cents. On Tuesdays throughout the month, one dip of ice cream is 15 cents. The specials are limited to in-house dining and one serving per customer. More information can be found at the restaurant.
Another special event planned this month at the Casselman is a presentation on the significance and importance of native plants. It will be given in the old dining room of the restaurant on Thursday, June 19, at 2 p.m. Speaker Liz McDowell from Elk Ridge Native Plant Preserve will give a presentation on creating garden areas with native plants to attract birds, butterflies, and bees. The presentation is free.
"With the management and staff of the Casselman Inn, the Miller family welcomes you to stop by for a taste of the past, enjoyment of the moment, and perhaps inspiration for the future," Joanna said.
Restaurant hours are Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. The phone number is 301-895-5055.
For more information, persons may visit www.thecasselman.com.