In 1945, The Discalced Carmelite Friars of the Washington Province of Carmelite in Washington D.C. bought 53 acres of land at Deep Creek Lake from May Beckman, the widow of Archibald Beckman, for $3000.00.
They began to build the structure that they called “camp”, and is now the Carmel Cove Inn. They named it Mount Carmel, after a mountain in northern Israel where the Carmelite order began with a community of hermits in the 12th century.
dis·calced –adjective: without shoes; unshod; barefoot.
The monks built the entire building themselves. They began with a small one story structure that is now just the very front portion of the Inn. It contained ten small rooms, called “cells”, a small community room with a rustic kitchen, and a bathing area with three sinks, one shower and two toilets, all in an open area with no doors. The cells each contained only a single cot and a prayer kneeler.
The building had no central heat nor fireplaces. There were large screened windows along the front of the building, with big wooden shutters that were pulled down at night to keep out the cold.
In 1960, the Carmelites built their Chapel, which is now the Common Room of the inn. The Chapel was deconsecrated by a Catholic priest before being put into secular use. Again, the monks did the construction almost entirely themselves with the exception of the building of the concrete block walls. In the tradition of Amish and Mennonite barn raisings, they had a Church raising. Many of the local masons from Friendsville, renown for the stacked stone structures you see in Garrett County, including the fireplace in the inn’s breakfast room, donated their time and expertise to the construction of the Carmelite Chapel. The impressive rafters supporting the roof of the Chapel were constructed and bolted by hand by the monks.
Alas, with construction completed, change came to Mount Carmel. With the advent of Vatican II in 1965 came the Decree of Optatam Totius which changed theological education for young priests and monks. The tradition of sequestering students in pastoral settings such as Mount Carmel gave way to studies in more urban settings at large universities and theological seminaries. The young monks were granted far more choice in their priestly training, and Mount Carmel at Deep Creek Lake fell into disuse.
Throughout the seventies, the student population dwindled, but the older Carmelite Fathers and Sisters continued their visits to Mount Carmel until the death of Father Thomas, its founder, in 1989. The Carmelites sold it to a local developer who subdivided the original 53 acres into vacation home properties. Too superstitious to tear down a church, he in turn sold the monastery building and grounds to its current owner whose vision of a sanctuary in the woods has come true for our many, treasured guests.