Preservation Maryland, a statewide non-profit organization, recently announced the state's 2008 Endangered Maryland sites. This annual program was launched in partnership with Maryland Life Magazine to help to protect Maryland's most important historic and cultural sites.
In the March/April Issue of Maryland Life Magazine, the organization released those eleven sites chosen during a nearly year-long selection process. The designation mirrors a program sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which recognizes threatened historic sites nationwide.
Preservation Maryland selected the sites based on their historic and cultural significance and the degree to which they were at risked of being lost due to neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy, and the potential for a solution.
There are so many threatened historic properties in Maryland that are worthy of preservation. It was difficult to narrow down the sites most in need of protection, said Tyler Gearhart, Preservation Maryland's Executive Director. But these eleven sites really stood out as both threatened and having a potential solution. We hope that by spotlighting these sites, we'll strengthen local efforts to protect and preserve these truly significant historic places for future generations.
Nominees were judged by a diverse panel of leaders from around the state with expertise in the identification, protection, preservation or promotion of Maryland's historic resources. Judges included representatives from local government and community organizations.
The endangered places we selected represent a wide range of historic sites in Maryland, Gearhart said, "On the list this year we have the last remaining grist mill on the lower Eastern Shore, the largest remaining skipjack, the oldest continuously owned amusement park in the United States, and bridges along one of the most historically significant transportation routes in the United States. How can we not protect these places?"
We hope the Endangered Maryland designation will raise awareness and visibility of these places and the threats that they face, Gearhart said. Suburban sprawl, deterioration and other threats make it more challenging than ever to protect and maintain historic resources. However, preserving these sites is important to enhancing our quality of life and the state's economy.
To set up interviews with representatives for individual sites, please call Jessica Feldt at 410-685-2886 x302.
The 2008 Endangered Maryland Sites are:
1. Bel Air Academy and Graded School: Maryland's historic schools (Harford County)
The Harford County Board of Education currently plans to demolish the building to make room for a playing field and parking space for the nearby Elementary school. The building, while neglected, is structurally sound and could be adapted to suit a variety of uses. Unless an agreement is reached with the School Board, the community will lose this connection to its past.
2. Camp Ritchie Historic District: A vital part of Maryland's military history (Washington County)
The Camp Ritchie Historic District is part of the Fort Ritchie Army base. The District represents the time period when the National Guard controlled the fort as well as when the fort served as the War Department's Military Intelligence Training Center. The Army and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have approved a plan to develop suburban office buildings and parking areas. These developments would threaten the integrity of the Camp Ritchie Historic District.
3. Carver Heights United Services Organizations (USO)/Community Center: Maryland's history of African-American involvement in World War II (St. Mary's County)
This building was built for African-American civilians working at the nearby Patuxent Naval Warfare Center and served a variety of purposes for the community for many decades. It has been abandoned since 2002 and is now facing demolition and deterioration from neglect.
4. Double Mills: Last remaining testament to an area's economy (Wicomico County)
This site includes both a grist mill and a general store that once served as part of a key component in the lower Eastern shore's economy. This grist mill is the last remaining on the lower Eastern Shore. Furthermore, its turbine water wheel is believed to be the only of its kind in the area. Surrounded by modern residences, the mill is threatened by deterioration.
5. Gardner's Cottage: Historic treasures in city parks (Baltimore City)
This cottage dates from the lifetime of Johns Hopkins and once housed the gardeners who worked on his impressive Clifton Estate gardens. A fire in 1976 opened a hole in the main roof that was left unattended until 2002. While some work has been done to stabilize the structure, the building is still under threat of deterioration.
6. Linwood: Preservation of Maryland's historic landscapes (Carroll County)
The village of Linwood was nominated along with adjoining McKinstry's Mill and Priestland Valley. Together they make up a carefully preserved look at rural life in the 19th century. The Carroll County government currently plans to build an industrial-style Emergency Services Training Center for firefighters nearby, increasing traffic and damaging the historic landscape.
7. Loving Charity Hall: Maryland's post-Civil War African-American history (Montgomery County)
This hall, part of a site containing a church and a former schoolhouse, served the needs of former slaves in the late 19th century. The building is in bad need of stabilization. Its roof is leaking leading to noticeable sagging. The Heritage Tourism Alliance of Montgomery County hopes to save the building before it deteriorates beyond hope for restoration.
8. Big Shade Run Bridge and Little Shade Run Bridge: Maryland's National Road history (Garrett County)
These two bridges were built to be part of the National Road, the first federally funded American highway. In 1932 the bridges were bypassed due to improvements on Route 40 and have been largely forgotten since. The bridges are in critical need of attention and have suffered collapses and have thick vegetation growing on them.
9. Sinclair Gasoline Service Station: Early automotive history (Prince George's County)
This remnant from the early age of the automobile still boasts its original canopy, but has endured repeated damage. The station represents a time when U.S. Route 1 played a key part in Maryland?s transportation system. The building?s fate is currently unclear as the property is for sale and the surrounding area is largely developed. Attention is needed to ensure this building is not demolished.
10. Skipjack Flora A. Price: Preserving an outstanding example of a unique fleet (Caroline County)
Now Located in Dorchester CountyThe Skipjack Flora A. Price is a treasure of Maryland's nautical traditions. The ship is the largest remaining skipjack and was part of the last working commercial fleet in the country. The Flora A. Price is in need of repairs to withstand damage from the wind and water. There is commitment to repair the ship but funds are needed before the ship falls victim to the elements.
11. Trimper's Rides and Amusement Park: Preserving a summertime tradition (Worcester County)
Trimper's Rides and Amusements is the oldest continuously owned amusement park in the Untied States. The park features historic attractions that have delighted generations including a 1902 carousel. The park is under threat of shut-down due to a large property tax assessment. An active campaign is underway to influence decision makers to keep Trimper's alive.