A in-depth interview with the founder of Maria's Garden and Inn, Peg Perry.
Margaret “Peg” Perry was born in Hagerstown, Maryland in 1933. Her mother, Constantina Davalos, was of strong Spanish decent from Argentina. Peg always displayed an extraordinary gift in the kitchen. Most of all she has always manifested a deep and undeniable faith in God that was taught her by the Catholic Church. In 1953 she married Jim Perry and moved to Berkeley springs. Jim was in the U.S. Marine Corp. and spent the first segment of the marriage fighting for his country in Korea. Jim and Peg bore two children, James Curtis and Alesa Margaret. The family life of the Perry’s was wholesome and traditional. The year 1971 began a new venture in the life of the Perry family. Jim had been employed by duPont and Peg was the owner of her own beauty shop. But those that know anything of the family know that they are always on the move in creating some new adventure in their lives. The venture of that year was the creation of “Perry’s Pizza Parlor”. Peg had tested and tasted submarine sandwiches from the fine sub-shops in Hagerstown and used the idea to create a line of sandwiches and pizza for Berkeley Springs. From July, 1971 until November, 1982, Perry’s Pizza Parlor was the local tradition for children and adults alike. During the operation of the business Peg had opened a second beauty shop, both of which she eventually sold. She also studied and passed her realty exam and became a real estate agent. Her career was not long lived mainly due to severe health problems. It was at this time that in her life that Peg spent much time at home praying and reading. In May, 1982, Jim and Peg along with the local parish priest, had the privilege of traveling to Fatima, Portugal to visit the holy sight where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in 1917. This was a momentous occasion due to the fact that Pope John Paul II had come there to give thanks. It was exactly one year prior on the Fatima Feast Day that he had been shot with a poison bullet and almost died. November of 1982 had now arrived. After their trip to Portugal, strange circumstances had resulted in Jim, Peg, and son Curtis purchasing a 1929 2-story brick home with a large auto repair garage. The catalyst for the purchase was the idea of moving Perry’s Pizza Parlor to that location. Peg also had an “itching” to expand the menu to offer the Eastern Panhandle good spaghetti. “How many times have you asked spaghetti when you go out to eat?”, she asked. The garage was converted into what is now two dining rooms while the basement became the kitchen. The original intent was modest, but the Perry’s couldn’t resist adding on. But that is not the end of the story by any means. If the restaurant grew by chance, the choice of the present name was not by accident. It was inspired in part by a replica of a miraculous portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary which recalls a story of divine intervention that Peg and the family hold dear. According to tradition, the Blessed Mother appeared to Juan Diego, a poor Aztec Indian, in 1531 and told him to entreat the Bishop at Mexico City to build a church on the spot which she stood. The Bishop did not believe Juan’s story, so as a sign to the disbelieving Bishop, the Lady told Juan Diego to climb to the top of a barren hill (it was mid-winter), and pick the flowers which he would find growing there. At the top of the hill Juan discovered beautiful Castilian Roses, which he picked and which Mother Mary arranged them herself in his tilma(cloak). Later, in the presence of the Bishop and others, Juan Diego opened his tilma to present the roses. The flowers fell to the floor. Juan bent to retrieve them when he noticed the Bishop on his knees in adoration. He then looked upon his tilma to see the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Bishop shortly afterward ordered the church to be built. Not only has scientific analysis of various studies failed to indicate a man-made origin, the image led to the conversion of over 9 million pagan Aztec Indians to the Roman Catholic Faith. The inspiration for the Bed & Breakfast followed a year of success in the restaurant and from the many friends made there. “God just opened the door for us and we just walked in,” Curtis said. The upstairs of the first house was remodeled during the winter of 1984-85 followed by the purchase of the adjacent house in 1985. All the rooms have been given their own special name. Alesa and her husband Bill have the honor of having the rooms on the second floor of the second house named after their children: Laura, Aaron, Stephen, and Louisa. After the conversion of both houses into the B&B, the quaint patio between the houses was miraculously transformed into a garden dining room with glass top tables, balcony dining, and sliding Glass doors to give view to the garden and grotto of Our Lady of Fatima. Maria’s Garden has now started offering small retreats during the week on scheduled days. Speakers of various backgrounds come and share their faith in God, the Virgin Mary’s roll in their walk of faith, and the wisdom that the Holy Spirit has granted. People from all walks of life, religious convictions(or not) come to attend and be enlightened. Peg shares her insights and the poetry that she has been inspired to write over the years. Many other plans are in the working. A future retreat center 15 minutes from town is being planned on a 27 acre tract dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. At this point the Perry family has lived and will continue to live on the motto: “Work as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God!” If the retreat center does materialize, it will be accomplished by Divine Grace through the friends of Maria. Maria’s Garden & Inn is the product of faith and hard work. It is what you might call the “AMERICAN DREAM”. It is not just the faith of the Perry’s that has built Maria’s, but of the many guests and friends. They bring gifts from afar, pictures, keepsakes, relics, icons, statues, rosaries, medals, holy water, and many other religious articles. Glass cases and shelves were built in the dining area to display the array of gifts from countries the world over. So browse through our website and see what we have to offer. You will love our quaint little town, our two state parks, the antique malls, the little shops, the fine dining, and the down home feeling. We hope to have you as our guest someday. Ave Maria, Carpe Diem
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