Archive for category Preservation Stories
These days, many tools are available to homeowners, researchers, and preservationists to aid in the dating of historic building. Being able to narrow down to a specific date or timeframe can become like a puzzle and discovering the missing pieces can be a time consuming and frustrating process though ultimately extremely rewarding. There are a variety of more common know dating methods such as identifying the building’s style, dating nails and saw marks, land records and archival research, and archaeology of the site, to name a few. However, when the going gets tough, we can turn to highly specialized scientific professionals to perform more specific in-depth studies such as a paint analysis or dendrochronology on the wood of a building.
Dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, is the scientific method of dating wood based on the analysis of the patterns of tree-ring growth. Until the 1970’s, radiocarbon dating was the only method we had for dating wooden objects but its range could run from just under twenty years to over two centuries! Once the scientific method of dendrochronology was developed, we then had an absolute process that could narrow our range down to a single year. So how does it work? Each year, a tree will produce one new ring just under the bark that varies in width depending on the growing conditions present in the region. These rings create a type of fingerprint that are part of the trees structure and can be identified once the tree has been felled and used for creating buildings and other objects.
The dendochronologist will examine the structure and determine the best pieces of wood from which to take samples. There are a few factors that must be taken into account including the type of wood and its condition. Ideally, between 6 and 8 core samples would be obtained but, when dealing with older structures, there may not be that many pieces of suitable lumber left. The sample needs to have at least 50 rings and a bark edge, also known as sapwood, to show the last growth years of the tree before it was felled. The most accurate possible construction date of a building will be easier to determine if more samples can be obtained and analyzed.
Sampling is performed by using a hollow drill bit to drill a small hole through the wood to produce a core that is approximately 10mm wide. It can take up to 20 minutes of drilling per sample due to the slow speed used. Once the core is obtained it is then sanded so that the ring boundaries are clearly distinguished for analysis. The samples taken from the structure are then compared to known samples from old growth trees present in the geographical area to help date when the tree was felled.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Michael Worthington of The Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory when he came out to conduct a dendrochronology study at the Wye House Orangerie on the Eastern Shore. It was fascinating to learn about the process and we’re very excited to get the results once the study is complete in the coming weeks. Originally from England and recently relocated to Baltimore, “Mick” has spent more than a decade building a series of base chronologies for the East Coast of America stretching from Maine down to Georgia. He has taken samples from numerous structures in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions of the United States and the United Kingdom, including The Tower of London and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. If you’re interested in reaching him to discuss the possibility of dating your building please check out www.dendrochronology.net. You may be amazed at the results!
Hello my name is Annie Albert, and I am interning with Preservation Maryland this summer. I will be a senior at Susquehanna University in the Fall. I am a History Major with an Art Minor Historic Preservation has been something that I have wanted to get involved with for a long time. I have always hated seeing farms destroyed, and historic buildings torn down.
Last Summer, I interned at the Hampton Historic Site, in Towson. I enjoyed learning about the history of the site while working behind the scenes with historic objects. It was also a great experience to work with some of the preservation staff repairing one of the slave quarters buildings. Learning about thier work gave me a different perspective of how people work to save historic buildings.
Throughout this internship I will be completing many projects, gaining a better understanding of how I can make a difference saving important historic sites. The first project, I completed was a long chart which included all of the different sites that have been nominated for the Endangered Maryland Program from 2006 through this year. This list can be used to reconsider sites which have been nominated and should still be noted for thier historic value. It is important for companies to decide on a further use of a historic building so that it does not lose its value and is not torn down. I look forward to travelling to different historic sites with some of the staff members and each of the projects I will complete.
Below is a round-up of news articles on preservation and heritage issues in Maryland and beyond.
Anne Arundel County
Maryland agrees to buy Annapolis post office Baltimore Sun 5-15-13
Peggy Stewart House for sale in Annapolis Baltimore Sun 5-16-13
Anne Arundel preserves a diamond in the rough Baltimore Sun 5-19-13
Md.’s religious history laid out in landmarks Delmarva Now 5-24-13
Volunteer caretaker tends to historic Brewer Hill Cemetery in Annapolis The Republic 5-24-13
A ‘Passport’ to the world of Druid Hill Park Baltimore Sun 5-8-13
Back Story: Seeking landmark status for valve house at Cross Keys Baltimore Sun 5-9-13
Renaissance for North Avenue as arts district Baltimore Sun 5-10-13
Fells Point house tour includes recently renovated 1790 home Baltimore Sun 5-11-13
Residents oppose town house development on historic site in Hampden Baltimore Sun 5-15-13
Stolen historic documents returned to Maryland Historical Society WBAL 5-16-13
Roaming the neighborhoods around Pimlico Baltimore Sun 5-17-13
Baltimore Cemetery a little-known and dignified site Baltimore Sun 5-24-13
From ‘Middle East’ to ‘Eager Park,’ a community is rebranded Baltimore Sun 5-25-13
Maryland Historical Trust to hold public hearing on Crittenton development Baltimore Sun 5-30-13
Carroll’s Yesteryears: Historic significance of Baldwin’s Station documented by Maryland Historical Trust Carroll County Times 5-11-13
East New Market recognized for preservation Maryland News Zap 5-7-13
Keeping up an old home is a labor of love The Frederick News-Post 5-9-13
Saving soldiers’ lives: Tour, exhibit and festival honor Gettysburg work of Daughters of Charity The Morning Call 5-18-13
Historic Maryland Courthouse Damaged During Storm Claims Journal 5-15-13
Apartments slated for Mt. Soma property near Bel Air Baltimore Sun 5-24-13
An opportunity to tour historic Merryland Farm on June 2 Baltimore Sun 5-30-13
Millington’s farmers market to open Saturday My Eastern Shore MD 5-29-13
Prince George’s County
Greenbelt theater to be restored with Partners in Preservation earnings WJLA 5-16-13
Somerset drops buyout of Smith Island homes Baltimore Sun 5-15-13
St. Mary’s County
Eight historic preservation awards presented The BayNet.Com 5-29-13
Washington County Board of Commissioners briefs herald-mail.com 5-22-13
Snow Hill Makes Case For Opera House Funds The Dispatch 5-10-13
I recently began and internship working to support Preservation Maryland’s Eastern Shore field services. I will be responsible for a variety of tasks including administrative projects, attending/auditing meetings, event coordination and support and participating in the development of new projects and fieldwork.
I have both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Washington College in Chestertown and The George Washington University in D.C., respectively. There is a natural link between sociology and preservation, and sociology fosters a consciousness of how different cultures and social groups organize and make sense of their world. Through this consciousness, a historical and comparative gaze is developed to tackle contemporary problems.
So how did a sociologist discover historic preservation? My father is a structural engineer who shared with me his passion for buildings as well as his love of history. When the opportunity arose for an internship with Preservation Maryland, I knew that this would be an amazing opportunity for me to tie together so many of my interests.
In the few short weeks that I have been on the job, I have been able to participate in a wide ranging variety of projects and events. I have seen fascinating buildings that I have instantly fallen in love with. One trend that continues to impress the sociologist in me is the sense of community and pride in that community. I look forward to meeting more supporters of Preservation Maryland, expanding my knowledge of resources on the Eastern Shore and learning more about local history in the communities we serve.
Site visits are one of the great perks of my job. Every few weeks, I have the opportunity to get out of the office, see the wonderful treasures that Maryland has to offer, and meet with colleagues who are working diligently to preserve the past and build a better future. My site visit on Tuesday was no exception to this rule, but it was special because it was my first trip to western Maryland.
The Washington County Historical Advisory Committee invited Tyler, Marilyn and me to attend the Annual John Frye Historic Preservation Awards Ceremony in Hagerstown, so we decided to make a day of it and see a few of the great sites in western Maryland before and after the ceremony. We started the day with a visit to Fort Frederick State Park where Ranger Bob Study showed us around. The park is home to one of the two Washington County schoolhouses added to Endangered Maryland in 2013, so that was our first stop. The 1890s structure served as an African American school until 1914 when it was converted into a private residence. The school is eligible for the Maryland Resident Curatorship Program and it is in dire need of an occupant who has the time and talent to restore the building.
Next on the list of things to see at Fort Frederick State Park was Fort Frederick. This 1756 fort saw service during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. In 1922 the site became a state park and throughout the 1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corp repaired the fort walls, built trails and tended to the grounds. Even if you do not care for military history, it is hard not to be impressed by this stone fort because of its size. The fort is open daily throughout the summer and is worth a visit.
We traveled the National Road back to Hagerstown for the awards ceremony and luncheon. On the way, we passed by the Wilson Bridge (1819), the earliest stone bridge in Washington County. The luncheon gave us the opportunity to reconnect with some of the politicians and preservationists in the area and learn about all the great preservation activities that are going on in Washington County. After lunch Preservation Maryland board members, Pat Schooley and Bill Beard, showed us around the Hagerstown Arts and Entertainment District. We also visited The Almshouse, a 2010 Endangered Maryland site, which still needs an occupant, and the entrance pavilion (c. 1910) to the Hagerstown Fairgrounds which is in great condition.
During the latter part of the day we made our way east from the Conococheague Aqueduct in Williamsport to Boonsboro which has a thriving downtown and then on to the Locust Grove School (c. 1870). Locust Grove School was selected for Endangered Maryland this year because its owners can no longer care for it and would like to see an organization take up the cause.
Our day in western Maryland was jam packed and we only saw a small fraction of all that the area has to offer. I look forward to returning in the fall on a Preservation Maryland field trip and I am sure I will visit on my own this summer. If you have not explored western Maryland in a while, I highly recommend paying it a visit.
Margaret De Arcangelis
My name is Anna Danz, and I have just returned for my third summer as a Development and Communications assistant here at Preservation Maryland. I am excited to be back and to work on new projects both in the office and in the field. From now until the end of August, I will be helping with a variety of projects including special events such as architectural field trips, a marketing and communication summit, fundraisers, membership recruitment, and field work.
Last May, I graduated from St. Mary’s College in Southern Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in Art History. Not wasting any time, I began work on my Master’s in Architectural History and Historic Preservation in the fall at the University of Virginia, where I am currently studying 20th century American architecture. Having now explored some of the many facets of architecture and preservation throughout the country, I have decided to focus my thesis on preservation of the recent past. Looking at the Morris A. Mechanic Theater in Baltimore, an Endangered Maryland site in 2009, as a case study, I plan to address the future of Brutalist architecture in the United States and to assess changes preservationists should consider in order to ensure a dynamic and diverse architectural record for future generations.
I hope to meet more of Preservation Maryland’s members and supporters in the coming months.
Below is a round-up of news articles on preservation and heritage issues in Maryland and beyond.
State help eyed to save western Md. Civil War site The Daily Record 4-1-13
Coney residents say they can save Catholic church from demolition Cumberland Times-News 4-17-13
Students document building exteriors Cumberland Times-News 4-23-13
Anne Arundel County
Architectural Historian Orlando Ridout Dies at Age 59 Annapolis Patch 4-10-13
Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage 2013: Tour More Than 50 Historic Properties This Spring Huffington Post 4-18-13
Our say: Don’t decorate Market House – just get it open Capital Gazette 4-26-13
City Dock proposals divide Annapolis Baltimore Sun 4-29-13
City wants $20 million upgrade at Lexington Market Baltimore Sun 4-3-13
Baltimore lobbies for tall ships, naval vessels to fill Inner Harbor Baltimore Sun 4-4-13
Back Story: Buildings are gone but not forgotten Baltimore Sun 4-5-13
Guilford neighborhood marks 100th anniversary Baltimore Sun 4-12-13
Lexington Market is in desperate need of a change Baltimore Sun 4-19-13
Cool potential for former icehouse Baltimore Sun 4-19-13
Researchers dig deep to discover the history of their homes Baltimore Sun 4-20-13
Makeover aims to bring Enoch Pratt Free Library’s central branch into digital age Washington Post 4-26-13With opening of Mill No. 1, the Jones Falls Valley’s makeover is nearly complete Baltimore Sun 4-27-13
Mount Airy to introduce ordinance on historic buildings Carroll County Times 4-29-13
Incinerator would tower over historic Monocacy battlefield Gazette.Net 4-25-13
Aberdeen’s mayor to Historical Society on B&O train station: ‘We’re fed up’ Baltimore Sun 4-9-13
Two Darnestown Area Locations Make ‘Endangered Maryland 2013′ List NorthPotomac Patch 4-9-13
House at ‘gateway’ to Rockville recommended for historic designation Gazette.Net 4-19-13
Public to vote on grant money for historic preservation in Montgomery Gazette.Net 4-29-13
Prince George’s County
Events aimed at drawing new crowds to historic Glenn Dale mansion Gazette.Net 4-30-13
Carrol Peterson: Don’t require historic status in Princess Anne DelMarVa Now 4-24-13
St. Mary’s County
Old Scotland Post Office on Maryland endangered list SoMdNews 4-17-13
Preservation Trust Of Wicomico County Establish Endowment Fund At The CFES – The Dispatch 4-5-13
Safeguarding treasures from national historic sites Washington Post 4-23-13
Historic Sites Competing for Public Support in Contest for Preservation Grants dcist.com 4-24-13
Last weekend, the National Trust ‘Council’ (a group of high level donors) spent a day on the Eastern Shore touring some of our great historic resources. As one of the guides for the day, I had the opportunity to engage some of the participants in conversations about today’s preservation movement and the challenges of reaching beyond our ‘borders’ to a broader audience. The conversation drew a lot of interest and got me thinking more broadly about the question of why people don’t seem to embrace preservation the way we often think they should?
My most basic observation here is this, preservation is a movement, so that means we have to move, forward. It doesn’t mean standing still, going in reverse or even worse, stagnating. It means that we need to reinvent, reinterpret (ourselves) and reassess where we are all the time so that we remain relevant and therefore, effective in our mission. By definition, the word movement speaks to the collective advancement of a shared idea, to progressive development, to change and repositioning. For a movement whose mission is perceived to mean freezing time, we have to remember to message that it’s really about managing change.
Preservationist often look to the conservation movement with an eye towards their success in being embraced by the general public. One advantage is that the more progressive conservation organizations routinely revisit the question of what’s needed and what’s relevant, what’s working and what isn’t. They’re great at reassessing their position and figuring out how to make their cause personal, which results in be able to engage people on a grass roots level, despite the fact that environmental regulations have decidedly become stricter. Conservation is regulated by the government, not by its citizens, unlike the most public aspect of preservation – historical commissions. This makes our job considerably more difficult. To gain ground, we have to ensure that those who serve on our front lines are well trained and well informed so that the message they deliver is not only right, but right on target. Unfortunately this is not where we always allocate our resources, why I don’t know. As a movement we have gone from volunteer based to one that has complicated levels of regulation and policy that stretch from Washington to your own back yard. Sandwiched between the bureaucrats and the public is the volunteer who is often times struggling with how to answer the questions, interpret the standards and define the criteria while coming away without feeling fairly perplexed and embattled. It’s clearly a top down problem and one that we seriously need to address.
That being said, it is even more important for us as preservationists to adapt and reinvent as history and conversations change around us. Today building preservation and revitalization is directly related to an improved environment, certainly a cause the younger generation relates to. In addition we have the ever evolving voice of African American history to explore and the surge of heritage tourism as Maryland lays down a myriad of historic trails that delve into everything from the voyage of John Smith to the War of 1812 and beyond. History in Maryland is fast becoming the currency of choice for many counties that are realizing its economic and social value. As preservationists we innately like the road less traveled, but we have to remember not only to fill in the pot holes along the way but to leave a trail of breadcrumbs so others can easily find us.
- Elizabeth Beckley
Last Saturday, April 13, we hosted our first field trip of the year and it was a great success. Participants came to Chesapeake College in Wye Mills from as far away as St. Mary’s City and Frederick County to learn about the history of milling in the area and visit houses that are not generally open to the public. The weather on Saturday was absolutely perfect – sunny and in the upper 60’s with just a slight breeze.
After enjoying coffee and donuts, the whole group piled into two large vans and we were off. Robert Wilson, the owner of Providence Farm, along with Rebecca Marquardt, president of the Queen Anne’s County Historical Society, gave the group an overview of the history of this 1746 house built by a local miller. I was particularly wowed by the detailed woodwork in the house and the amount of restoration work Mr. Wilson has completed.
Our busy schedule did not allow for time to stop and walk around in Centreville, but we did detour up and down through town. Elizabeth Beckley and Michael Bourne, our tour guides for the day, pointed out some of the oldest buildings in town including Wright’s Chance and Tucker House.
Next we headed back to Wye Mills to visit Cloverfields, an early 18th century house and the home of the Great Tobacco Merchant, William Hemsley. While some members of the group chatted with Mrs. Pippin, the current owner of the house, others admired the detailed exterior brick work and visited the Hemsley cemetery.
By noon everyone was getting ready for lunch, so we headed off to the Old Wye Church and enjoyed our lunch in the parish house. The Reverend Charlie Osberger joined us for lunch and gave the group an informative and funny introduction the history of the church and the congregation.
Our next stop was just up the road at the Old Wye Mill, where the Friends of Old Wye Mill, were kind enough to open the mill up before their regular summer hours started. Jim Casey, George Hoffman and John Nizer showed us around this colonial era grist mill which is the oldest in continuous operation in the state. If you are ever looking for a rhythmic noise that will lull you right to sleep, the beat of the water going into the steal wheel is exactly what you want to hear.
Just a few hundred yards south of the mill sits the Miller’s House which was built around 1750. Many of the participants on the trip were excited to see inside the house because it is one of the least altered early structures on the Eastern Shore. Those who did not want to get dirty in the house visited the cemetery on the grounds and I got a kick out of watching a bald eagle soar high above us.
I think our first field trip was a glowing success and a lot of fun. If you could not join us this time, I hope you will come along on a future trip. Keep your eyes peeled next month for information on our next field trip which will be Saturday, June 1 at the National Park Seminary in Silver Spring.
Margaret De Arcangelis
I am pretty sure Orlando Ridout never thought of himself as a celebrity, but to me he was. He was a Rock Star among preservationists, and I was privileged to have known him for his adult life. His father, the first state historic preservation officer, was my boss in my first preservation job, and so I was aware of Orlando’s emerging interest in historic buildings long before he established his reputation. Much has been said and written in the months since it became known that Orlando Ridout V was fighting one of the deadliest diseases. Today, I feel compelled to add my personal thoughts on his untimely death of clearly one of the great vernacular architecture scholars in America.
The loss of Orlando on April 6 after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer is being felt throughout the country, most acutely by those who had the good fortune to know him, work with him, and — in my case —to consult him on what had to be annoyingly elementary questions. I am sympathetic to those in our field who will, for decades to come, hear his name, learn from his scholarship and benefit from his largeness of heart but who never witnessed his contagious enthusiasm for his work or received a rapid response to an email seeking some arcane detail about a building little known and long gone. Knowing the likely outcome of his struggle, in the last year many around Orlando hastened to thank him and to honor him for his achievements. In retrospect, those efforts seem woefully inadequate. Who can envision what Orlando — judging by his scholarship, contributions and energy – might have left behind had he been given 40 more years to pursue his passion? Sadly, we are left to be thankful for what he did produce – exponentially more than most professionals in our field no matter the extent of their careers. We are left to benefit from his work and his love for it. A lucky few of us will cherish the time he spent with us and be inspired to re-dedicate ourselves to carrying on, in the path he created before us.