Washington County Rural Heritage Museum

Washington County, Maryland's Rural Heritage Museum Curator, Martha Bowen stands in front of her exhibit recognizing colonial printer, John Gruber for his influence on rural life in the Mid-Atlantic Region through his famous publication, the 222-year old  Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack.

                                        For morHAGERSTOWN ALMANACK NEWS, click here 

Washington County Rural Heritage Museum

Mercersburg, PA. June 15, 2016  – The Gruber Almanack, LLC is proud to announce that its founder, John Gruber, colonial printer, was  honored with a special exhibition at The Washington County Rural Heritage Museum located in Boonsboro, Maryland.  The exhibit chronicles Gruber’s life and times and is enhanced with a dramatic display of his substantial body of work that included his 220-year old Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack. The exhibit, which opened on Saturday June 11th, was the creation of Martha Bowen, Curator of the Rural Heritage Museum, who first learned of Gruber through his almanacs and quickly became fascinated by his story and many accomplishments.  Her desire for authenticity drove her to seek out special elements for the exhibit most notably from The Washington County Historical Society of Hagerstown,  Maryland, its own members,  as well as from the Gruber Almanack, LLC partners Jerry Spessard, Bill O’Toole, and Chad Fisher.  They not only provided additional background to the Gruber story but also lent the museum a number of rare artifacts from their own collection to enhance the exhibit  (the original wooden print blocks of the front and back covers of the 1797 edition as well as several  rare copies of past editions, in both German and English languages). Click here for the full article recounting the origins, the elements, and the logistics of creating this wonderful exhibit. For more information on the exhibit, the museum and its other colonial exhibits, go to or like them on Facebook at  


Hagerstown Celebrates Star Spangled Banner's 200th Anniversary!


On October 9th, 2014, The City of Hagerstown held a celebration honoring the 200th Anniversary of The Star Spangled Banner and to also honor John Gruber and The Maryland Theater for their 200+ years of contribution to the arts and humanities to the region. The celebration commemorating Gruber’s significant cultural and historical achievements was held at the site of Gruber’s first print shop on South Potomac Street (now, coincidentally the site of the Maryland Theater!). The honors included the unveiling of a historical marker, speeches by officials, and certificates of special recognition issued by city Mayor David S. Gysberts. It was John Gruber, along with partner and son-in-law, Daniel May, who first published The Star Spangled Banner (originally titled "Defence of Fort McHenry’) in song form in his National Songster - 1814, Hagerstown, Maryland.   For the event's promotional poster, click here and for more local media coverage of the day's events, go to

Hagerstown Celebrates Star Spangled Banner's 200th Anniversary!

Ceremony also recognizes 100th anniversary of Maryland Theatre, site where National Anthem was printed.


For Imediate Release - October 1, 2014

 Join the City of Hagerstown in commemorating the community's mark in history during the 200th anniversary of our National Anthem. The first publication of the Star Spangled Banner in a music book occurred in 1814 at Gruber's Print Shop, which is now the site of The Maryland Theatre. The community will be celebrating this important event in Hagerstown's history on Thursday, October 9th from 3:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.  at The Maryland Theatre.
A special ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. when Mayor Dave Gysberts and other honored guests will unveil a new interpretive marker commemorating the 200th anniversary as well as the upcoming 100th anniversary of The Maryland Theatre.  Other festivities throughout the afternoon and into the evening include displays, movie showings, children's activities and period music. Guests will be able to view an exhibition of an original copy of the Gruber songbook printed in Hagerstown in 1814. A full-sized accurate replica of the 40'x30' Fort McHenry flag will also be on display; the original is on display in the Smithsonian Institution. The Fort McHenry National Monument Visitor Center movie will be shown, which relates the story of the Battle of Baltimore and Francis Scott Key's poem that became the National Anthem. 1812 reenactors, including the Fort McHenry Fifes and Drums, will be at the Theatre throughout the afternoon playing period music and offering living history education. Children's activities will be provided from 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Stephen Bockmiller at (301) 739-8577 ext. 139 or email 

           For more on JOHN GRUBER AND THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER,  click here