Tour of Westminster trees taps roots of city's history [Column]

On Aug. 14, the University of Maryland Extension-Carroll County agent for home horticulture, Steve Allgeier, will again conduct a walking tour of Westminster trees.

The tour will "explore the variety of trees and shrubs found around the Belle Grove Square area of Westminster," said Allgeier in an interview last month in his office in the extension service building at the Carroll County Ag Center, one that could pass for a plant and insect emporium.

Historically, Belle Grove Square was one of the first known deeded green spaces in the city.

According to my earlier research, its origins date back to 1866 when the then-farmland and woods was purchased by George and Maria Matthews.

George Matthews had the property, "Matthews' Addition," annexed into the city. In June of 1875, he developed, "thirty lots bounded by West Green, Bond, Matthews (now Park Place) and Park Streets," into a housing development, according to research for the Historical Society of Carroll County by Jay Graybeal.

The development was "initially mentioned in the council minutes as 'LaFayette Square.' "

Matthews subsequently named the neighborhood and city park area, "Belle Grove Square after their daughter Belle Matthews. Matthews offered the one-acre park to the city in March 1877 and a deed was recorded on May 21, 1877," according to Graybeal.

It was restored by the GFWC Woman's Club of Westminster in 1976.

The club's civic-minded generosity continues to this day as it meticulously continues to maintain the grounds, aided by street maintenance crews of the Westminster Department of Public Works and folks such as City Arborist Eric Schlitzer, Public Works Director Jeff Glass, Street Superintendent Larry Bloom and Assistant Street Superintendent Wayne Reifsnider.

For the past several years, Allgeier, the county's Master Gardener coordinator who is also a member of the Westminster Tree Commission, has conducted the Heritage Tree Walk and Talk programs throughout the county. They are among many Celebrate America programs that are, in part, promoted by Carroll's Board of County Commissioners.

The upcoming heritage tree tour will be sponsored by the Westminster Tree Commission, the Carroll County Public Library and the University of Maryland Extension Service.

The tour of the historic city park will also appropriately serve as a prelude to the many exciting events planned by the city to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the city's founding in 1764.

A sestercentennial 250th Anniversary Block Party will take place the afternoon of Sept. 13.

Meet Allgeier in front of the Westminster Branch Library at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 14, for the Belle Grove Square tour.

For information about trees and shrubs in the urban landscape — or bugs, too — call Allgeier at the extension offices, 410-386-2760.

For information on the Westminster Tree Commission Legacy Tree Program, call Allgeier or the City of Westminster, 410-848-9000.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad