Firefighters set 'Shamrock' mansion ablaze in Bel Air [50 years ago]

As taken from the pages of The Aegis dated Thursday, October 10, 1963:

More than 70 firemen from all over Harford County set fire 50 years ago this week to the "Shamrock" mansion atop Archer's Hill on the edge of town. Ten fire trucks were on hand as the firefighters set various types of fires and extinguished them until the building was leveled. When demolition was complete, several additional building lots would be available to the housing development to which the estate gave its name. Shamrock, thought to be Bel Air's second oldest house, was the family estate of the descendants of Henry Wilson Archer. Only the historic Hays House exceeded it in years. It came into the Archer family in 1850 when Henry Wilson Archer purchased the 65-acre farm from Ellen Howe Davis. Notable members of the Archer family included State Sen. James J. Archer, who served in 1914 to 1916 and his brother, Dr. William Stevenson Archer, whose practice ran for more than 40 years in Bel Air. Dr. Archer's nephew, John Potter Archer Sr., acquired possession of the estate in 1931 upon the death of the good doctor. The John Archer family retained possession of the home until 1955 when it was sold to the Sparr Construction Company and development of Shamrock began.

Judge Stewart Day granted a motion from the State Health Department, which ordered the City of Havre de Grace to construct a sewage disposal plant. Judge Day requested that attorneys for the health department prepare a construction timetable. The sewage plant issue had been in the news for a number of years and had brought considerable unfavorable publicity to the city of Havre de Grace.

Police were called to a heavy gathering of cars in the area of Rock Run on Craig's Corner Road. When the officers arrived they found almost 40 young couples parked in the area. When the youths were questioned they said they were there to catch a glimpse of the "hooked giant." The youths described a man about six-feet-five inches tall with a metal hook at the end of one arm in place of his hand. This "giant" had been rumored to be coming up to parked cars in the area and tapping on the windows with his hook.

A building permit was issued in Bel Air for the construction of a 42-unit apartment complex. The building was to be constructed on a two and one-half acre tract running from Harlan Street to Crocker Street, directly behind the Bel Air American Legion. All of the brick apartments would be landscaped with a small park and a swimming pool for residents and be known as Ingleside Apartments.

The toll booths near Port Deposit were erected to meet the target date of Nov. 15 for the opening of the Northeast Expressway. This was to be the only toll barrier for traffic in the Maryland section of the Expressway. The toll included seven booths, an administration building containing offices, State Police facilities, highway radio control center and personnel dressing rooms and lounge. The highway was to be two lanes in each direction with no intersections. The toll charge would be $1 for the 46 miles of the Northeast Expressway in Maryland.

When the new Edgewood library opened later in 1963, 10,000 books would be lining the shelves. Several thousand were being stored in a downstairs workroom in the central library. Catalog cards were stored in a file, bookends and records were bought and the opening of the new branch was in sight.

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