By Mr. Russell Toof (99th RSC)September 26, 2016
Nestled along Slaughter Creek and hidden from the Chesapeake Bay by Taylors Island, sits an almost 300-acre property with over two miles of coastline that at one time was owned by Clara Bow, a silent movie star in the 1920s. Owned privately for decades, the grounds are now being developed as a retreat for wounded service members and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Patriot Point, located 20 minutes southwest of Cambridge, Maryland, was purchased earlier this year by the D.C. Bowl Committee, which runs an annual college football game in Annapolis and has donated thousands of dollars to the local chapter of the United Service Organization.
"It is peaceful and serene and a place that allows guests to relax, recharge and get away from their everyday struggles," said Steve Beck, president of the D.C. Bowl Committee. "We want the property to be used as much as possible so that we can give back to as many wounded service members, their care givers, families and veterans as we can."
Through private donations and $500,000 in state funding, the property is on the verge of reopening, though service members have been able to stay through the renovations.
Renovations include handicap accessibility, constructing new buildings, and extending the boat pier. On-site activities will include boating, hunting, fishing and crabbing.
"This is going to be an awesome facility for warriors and their families to get away and reconnect," said Karl Schwartz with Heroes on the Water -- George Washington Chapter, who helped oversee a stay at the property Aug. 19-21. "The property and its views are hard to leave."
The property had been owned by James Bugg, a World War II veteran, businessman and later chairman of the Yellow Ribbon Fund who informally hosted wounded service members at the property, then known as Poverty Point.
Stuart Plank had visited Bugg at the property and after his passing in 2015, saw an opportunity to formalize Bugg's concept. Plank is a member of the D.C. Touchdown Club's Executive Committee and is the older brother to Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.
Patriot Point currently has a four-bedroom main house, a six-bedroom guesthouse, a barn and a caretaker's house. The main house was built in 1926 by Bow, who reportedly threw wild parties with bootleg alcohol during Prohibition.
"We envision building an 11-bedroom lodge to the west of the existing main house. We also want to renovate the main house. We are under construction renovating the guest house and we hope to start construction within 90-180 days on a new barn and caretaker's quarters. When we accomplish all of this, Patriot Point will be a first-class facility that will allow us to use the property to its fullest," said Beck.
"They were not done with their renovations, but wanted to start helping our wounded warriors as soon as possible," said Schwartz, referencing his recent stay.
While there are veteran retreats all across the country, Patriot Point's proximity to a very large population makes it a draw. Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City are all within a four-hour drive. Other cities like Charlotte and Boston are within a day's drive.
When asked about who can come stay, Beck responded, "There is no geographic limit on where guests can come from. Obviously, we are in an area where there are many recovering Soldiers that are within a short drive, but we are open to hosting anyone who is able to travel to Patriot Point."
So what does Patriot Point ultimately mean to Beck? "I want people to think about helping our nation's Soldiers and veterans," he said. "Patriot Point is something we can all support. It is a place that gives back to those who give everything they have protecting our nation."