Old Bel Air Academy building lives again on canvas, paper

"Good 'Ole School Days" plein air paintings and drawings by local artists, shown for the first time Wednesday at the Historical Society of Harford County, provide a number of unique and whimsical glimpses of the former Bel Air Academy and Graded School building on Gordon Street, from the days more than 60 years ago when children went to school there.

A few of the former students reminisced about the building during a small reception Wednesday evening.

"It was a nice little evening; the art was really incidental," historical society Director Maryanna Skowronski said.

The art will remain on display at the society headquarters, 143 N. Main St. in Bel Air, for about two weeks, Skowronski said.

Carol Deibel, who organized the event along with artist John Sauers, said 22 artists were represented.

"In addition to several of the artists, we had approximately 20 people, several of whom attended the school and shared their stories about teachers, events," Deibel said. "One person even described how he first met his wife on the steps of the school. They are still married. It was a really nice event."

Deibel noted that speakers explained the importance of the school to the community, "since it predates mandatory school attendance and going to school was considered a privilege at the time."

"People traveled great distances to attend the school, as most areas were served only by one- or two-room school houses," she noted.

The building, constructed in three stages between 1880 and around 1907, last served as a school in 1950 and subsequently was used as the Harford County Public Schools headquarters until 2006.

The county government, which owns the building, is considering auctioning the property, after several previous redevelopment proposals never got off the ground.

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