Plans taking shape for Brookeville’s War of 1812 celebration

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Brookeville War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission continues to lay the groundwork for the 200th anniversary of the town’s role in the War of 1812.

At Monday’s commissioners’ meeting, Sandra Heiler, town resident and chairwoman of Brookeville’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, provided an update for plans to commemorate the events of Aug. 26, 1814, when President James Madison fled to Brookeville as the British burned Washington, D.C.

He sought refuge at the Market Street home of Postmaster Caleb Bentley, known today as the Madison House. In addition to the president and the U.S. attorney general, Brookeville’s townspeople provided refuge for other Washingtonians fleeing the invasion and burning of the city as well as American soldiers from the Battle of Bladensburg, making Brookeville “the Nation’s Capital for a Day.”

Heiler announced that some dates have been finalized.

A historical symposium to present the findings of researchers and archaeologists studying the town’s people and events of that time period will take place Sept. 28, 2013, at the Brookeville Academy.

The bicentennial celebration will take place during Labor Day weekend 2014. Details regarding possible events and scheduling will be discussed at a town meeting, likely to be held in the spring.

“We have a lot of really good ideas,” Heiler said. “Events could include a parade, a reenactment, a picnic, an 1814 technology fair and exhibits.”

Heiler is looking for a few additional dedicated individuals to serve on the commission, which will meet monthly beginning in January. Those interested should contact her at

“The planning phase is crucial,” she said. “We’ve been waiting 200 years for this, and careful planning will make it worth the wait.”

There will be a much larger call for volunteers to help during the event, as it draws closer.

“We will be able to use all the volunteers we can get for the event,” she said. “Brookeville was filled with people in 1814, so the more, the merrier.”

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