The winter weather this season has brought us more than just snow and frosty temperatures, it’s the perpetrator of bursting pipes and miserable conditions for old structures everywhere. Rarely have I heard of more situations where historic buildings – and their owners – were facing crisis after crisis from the plunging temperatures. Usually a more moderate climate, old houses here are likely to have been built with uninsulated pipes located in exterior walls, crawl spaces and attics, leaving them more vulnerable to these very cold spells of late. In the north, houses are almost always built with the pipes on the interior of the structure in anticipation of these temperatures. Well-built though these structures may be, their plumbing is no match for what Mother Nature can deliver.
I’ve been fielding questions about replacing plaster ceilings and exterior pipes freezing, even sprinkler systems that have frozen and then exploded rendering the interiors a soppy swollen mess. So I thought I would pass along a few suggestions on how to prevent this from happening to you. First, make sure you have enough heating oil or propane in your tank, especially if you plan to be away. It sounds rudimentary I know, but it is often overlooked. It’s a new ballgame with record lows, and unless you’re on auto fill from the fuel company, it’s easier than ever to unexpectedly run out. If you’ll be traveling, have someone stop in each day to ensure everything is ship shape. One of the worst situations I saw this winter occurred when a house was vacant and an opening was left cracked. When the arctic freeze landed and temperatures plummeted to record lows, the heating oil ran out very quickly; the sprinkler system froze and when it thawed, went off and soaked the house unchecked for days until passersby saw water streaming out from under the front door! Gives you chills doesn’t it? In situations as dire as this, the old wooden floors could potentially swell so badly that their expansion impacts the masonry walls, not a situation any of us want to face.
Uninsulated and antiquated pipes typically leading to bathrooms (and kitchens), are very real culprits for freezing and bursting, almost always involving damaged ceilings and destruction to what lies beneath. Once this happens and you have to address the problem, there’s really no point in re-plastering a ceiling that lies below pipes. A purist though I am, I’m also pragmatic and bathroom plumbing can present problems at any time of the year. My recommendation is usually to dry wall these ceilings, regardless if the remaining walls in the room are plaster. This works especially well if there is crown molding in the room which separates the two materials nicely and you brush the ceiling paint giving it a little texture once it’s applied. Few will know the difference, and you will be in a much better position for managing these problems as they occur, and reoccur as the case may be! When in doubt, leave a faucet on a slow drip to help prevent freezing overnight. It prevents ice from forming and expanding inside the pipe.
This spring would be a perfect time to reassess the plumbing in your house and get an idea of just where your potential trouble spots may lie. If you can, check for deterioration, insulate the pipes (or relocate) and the space if possible. You can install heaters in vulnerable areas to help prevent freezing issues as well. On another note, it never hurts to drain the water supply to your exterior spigots and cover them with insulators from the hardware store. That way the water in them won’t freeze and burst in your basement. Last but not least, remember that while mitigation companies provide much needed relief, they are not often in tune to historic materials and how to address them. Do your homework and make sure you know what they plan to do and how quickly. It wouldn’t hurt to call in your friendly neighborhood historic building expert to advise you on assessing the damage and determining next steps for treating the historic fabric. The good news is that spring is almost here. Good luck and stay warm!
BDC issues requests for proposals to spur progress on downtown Baltimore’s deteriorating west side – BBJ 2-20-14
Maryland’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission supports creation of interactive battlefield maps and KeyCam – Maryland NewsZap 2-23-14
Under Armour CEO Backs Plans To Turn Fells Point Recreation Pier Into Hotel – CBS News 2-27-14
The Monumental City Guards celebrate 135 years – DVIDS 2-27-14
Carroll recognized by Maryland Historic Trust – Carroll County Times 2-25-14
2014 Charles County Preservation Award Winners Announced – Southern Maryland 2-24-14
Heritage revealed at treasure trove of historic sites – SoMd News 2-26-14
Southern tobacco barns hold allure for preservationists – Charlotte Observer 2-28-14
Heritage Museums & Gardens celebrate black history –The Star Democrat 2-2-14
Cambridge mayor gives public until Monday to send in designs for war heroes monument – Maryland Newszap 2-28-14
Former Coca-Cola Plant May be Designated Historic Landmark – Your4State.com 2-20-14
Award to county for farmland preservation – MyEasternShoreMD 2-19-14
Committee urges council to reject historic designation of Wheaton Rec Center – Gazette.Net 2-19-14
Private cemetery cleared in search of an ancestor – SoMdNews 2-26-14
Johns Hopkins vs. MoCo farm: Whose wishes should prevail? – Washington Post 2-27-14
St. Mary’s County
Historic St. Mary’s City ship sails into its senior years – SoMdNews 2-28-14
Talbot Historical Society welcomes new executive director – The Star Democrat 2-18-14
Rotary Club hears about ongoing restorative work at The Maryland Theatre – Herald Mail Media 2-9-14
Preservation Maryland members and friends,
I am excited to join the Preservation Maryland staff as the new director of development. Historic preservation has been a passion of mine for many years. In addition to being the former director of financial services for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, I have also had the opportunity to lead a local historic preservation organization, serve as a commissioner on a county preservation commission, as well as on the board of the Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions. I have also had the good fortune of serving in leadership positions for several national nonprofit organizations based in Washington, DC, as well as provide consulting and fundraising services for a select group of nonprofits in central Maryland. Most recently, I was the director of the major donor program for 1000 Friends of Maryland, the state’s advocacy organization for smart growth.
And, on the personal side, my partner David Dahbura and I live in a stone farmhouse that was built in 1799 which is located on an 80 acre farm in northern Baltimore County – so we are literally surrounded by more than two centuries of Maryland history every day. I look forward to meeting the members and supporters of Preservation Maryland in the weeks and months ahead as we work together to expand our resources to support historic preservation programs across the state.
Canal Place gets $116,000 from state; officials debate future of operations – Cumberland Times-News 1-15-14
Anne Arundel County
Victorian stands out in Annapolis - Baltimore Sun 1-10-14
Historic Crofton House Lands $10,000 Donation – Crofton Patch 1-15-14
Annapolis Historian Ignites Maryland’s 150th Emancipation Celebration Date – Afro.com 1-17-14
Developer plans apartments for Raffel Building south of Federal Hill – Baltimore Sun 1-7-14
Downtown neighborhoods might get names – Baltimore Sun 1-10-14
City Council mills extending tax breaks for historic properties – Baltimore Sun 1-13-14
Old tire shop in Remington transformed - Baltimore Sun 1-17-14
Townhouses, apartments coming to historic Crittenton site in Hampden – BizJournals 1-21-14
Upgrades planned for Bel Air’s Rockfield Manor – Baltimore Sun 1-16-14
Ellicott City residents, county chart course for historic district housing – Baltimore Sun 1-17-14
Cross Street restoration gets state tax credits – MyEasternShoreMD 1-13-14
Prince George’s County
Prince George’s Olde Towne Inn mirrors the history of African Americans in the county – Washington Post 1-24-14
As I touched on last month, there is no more powerful and informative tool to our preservation efforts than the people engaged in local community efforts. While we can assist with tools, knowledge and resources, ultimately a resource is left in the long term stewardship of the people who care about it locally. They often will be the first to know of a pending demolition or a building in jeopardy long before we do and through their outreach we are afforded the opportunity to intervene and make a difference.
This month I learned of the loss of a building that speaks to the heart of Eastern Shore heritage; the “homeplace” of Lemuel and Steve Ward, two brothers from Crisfield recognized as the fathers of the modern movement in decorative wildlife, or decoy carving in America. This was the very home where they were raised, subsequently lived with their own families and which used to sit adjacent to their workshop which remains. This vernacular 1880’s house of simple means spoke to the essence of this family’s legacy and along with the adjoining workshop provided the full context of their lives. This building was on listed on the National Register, under easement to the Maryland Historical Trust and held in the hands of a local non-profit organization. So how did this happen you ask? I’ve asked myself that questions as well.
Though inhabited for many years by a family member following their death in the 1970’s it then sat vacant for quite some time, and what damage occurred during that period is unknown to us. When hurricane Sandy arrived it delivered a sharp and devastating blow to Crisfield that the community is still reeling from, damaging the house as well. Even so, we know now there were very real questions about its future as much as eight months ago; if only someone had raised a flag efforts would have been made to preserve this very special place. The uproar that has ensued following the demolition of this building has resounded from up to eight states away.
The moral of the story? We cannot simply assume that a buildng is protected even if all measures seem to be in place to preserve it. The value of local knowledge and the need for folks to send up some smoke signals when they fear that a resource is in jeopardy is absolutely critical to the final outcome. This is our watch, and while we stand that watch it’s incumbent on us all to sound the alarm, send up smoke signals or find some means of calling in the troops. Not everything can be saved, and perhaps this was one of those cases, but without knowing it stands to reason that there were options left unexplored and potential for a different outcome now too late to realize. However, it breaks my heart to think that the new address for this special place is at the local landfill. There has to be a better way, let’s find it together.
Elizabeth Beckley, Eastern Shore Field Director
Maryland Heritage Council to host Legislative Briefing on Tuesday, February 4 in Annapolis
The Good News! Governor O’Malley’s proposed budget maintains or increases funding for the heritage programs you work for and with on a daily basis.
What’s Next? We all need to show our support for the heritage programs in Maryland by contacting our General Assembly members and telling them why they too should support these important programs. To make the lobbying process as easy as possible the Maryland Heritage Council member organizations are co-hosting a Legislative Briefing on Tuesday, February 4. We need you there!
Join your fellow preservationists in Annapolis on February 4 to learn about what is at stake during this session and how you can make a difference. Afterwards, visit your representatives in the General Assembly and share the information you received at the briefing. Close out the day at the Maryland Historical Trust’s Preservation Awards Ceremony where you can celebrate and relax with friends and colleagues.
It is up to each of us to tell our General Assembly members why heritage programs are important and to show its members that many people support the funding of these important programs! Now is the time to wave the preservation flag in Annapolis and show your support of Maryland’s heritage. Please pass on this announcement to your colleagues and encourage them to join us on Tuesday, February 4.
Legislative Briefing 1:30 – 3:00pm
Governor Calvert House
58 State Circle
The Honorable Maggie McIntosh, Chair, Environmental Matters Committee
What’s at Stake?
Sustainable Communities Rehabilitation Tax Credit – Michael Day
African American Heritage Preservation Program – Dr. Joni Jones
Main Street Maryland – Amy Seitz
Maryland Heritage Areas – Richard Hughes
Maryland Humanities Council – Phoebe Stein
Elizabeth Hebron, Deputy Director, NCSHPO
Richard Hall, Secretary, Maryland Department of Planning
Direct Lobbying Opportunity 3:00 – 4:30pm
Call your senator’s and delegates’ office today to schedule a visit for February 4.
Maryland Historical Trust’s Preservation Awards Ceremony 4:30-7:00pm
Governor Calvert House
58 State Circle
End the day with a celebration of historic preservation efforts in Maryland and mingle with colleagues at a reception. Advanced registration is required.
As a member of Maryland’s heritage community, your participation is vital to the continued funding of these crucial programs. Watch your email for updates about this important event and click the link below to register.
Legislative Briefing Registration!
For more information contact Margaret De Arcangelis at 410-685-2886 ext. 302.
Maryland Heritage Council
Archeological Society of Maryland, Council for Maryland Archeology, Greater Baltimore History Alliance, Main Street Maryland, Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions, Maryland Association of History Museums, Maryland Coalition of Heritage Areas, Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, Maryland Historical Society, Maryland Historical Trust, Maryland Humanities Council, and Preservation Maryland
The deadline to apply for a Heritage Fund grant is approaching fast. The Heritage Fund awards up to $5,000 to non-profit organizations and local jurisdictions for capital and non-capital historic preservation projects. The fund is intended to serve the needs of tangible cultural resources in Maryland that may not be met through other funding programs.
Projects eligible for funding include acquisition and/or stabilization of endangered historic properties; bricks and mortar repairs and restoration; and education, research and planning efforts related to resource preservation. Please see the Heritage Fund Guidelines and Procedures for a full listing of projects eligible for funding.
Our selection committee will meet in mid-February to review applications for funding. Projects are evaluated on a competitive basis according to the urgency for financial need, administrative capability of the applicant and the extent to which the project stimulates or promotes other preservation activities. For a full listing of grant awards criteria, click the link above for the Heritage Fund Guidelines and Procedures. For further information, click here.