Anneslie residents celebrate neighborhood's march into history

And then there were three.

The community of Anneslie has received unanimous support from the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission to join Stoneleigh and Rodgers Forge as Towson neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places, moving the community one step closer to a designation many think it deserves.

"The toughest part is out of the way," said Mark Lewendowski, a member of the Anneslie Community Association Board of Governors, after the Nov. 10 vote.

"I'm glad we're able to get this designation for the neighborhood," he said, "and we're happy to have Anneslie included with Rodgers Forge and Stoneleigh on the list of historic communities in the area."

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz must still sign off on the designation as well, but then the only step remaining is approval from the Maryland Historic Trust, which Lewendowski and Anneslie Community Association president Scott McGovern expect early in 2012.

Founded in the 1920s, Anneslie sits on the grounds of Villa Anneslie, a 119-acre estate that is already on the National Register of Historic Places. The Villa Anneslie home was built in the 1850s. The community's standing as one of the oldest suburbs in Towson, along with its mix of architecture spanning well over a century, were the driving forces behind its application.

For Lewendowski, the approval represents an opportunity not only for Anneslie to be showcased as a historic neighborhood, but for homeowners to take advantage of a 20 percent tax credit allowed for home renovations and restorations that fall within the National Register criteria.

"There are a lot of folks that are pretty anxious to get their designation, so they can start doing home renovations," Lewendowski said.

For those people, he said, the county endorsement "is certainly a motivation to get these things started."

If the tax credit "fixes up a couple beat-up chimneys or slate roofs," Lewendowski said, the designation could have a much larger affect on Anneslie than simple prestige.

"It's a good thing for folks to get a little bit of tax benefit without having their hands tied," McGovern said.

Anneslie elected to pursue the national designation — instead of the county's Landmark List, which would have required that any work done in the neighborhood go before the Landmark Preservation Commission for approval.

The restrictions are less onerous on the National Register of Historic Places. Any work can be done to properties on that list, though only some renovations will qualify for the tax credit.

History in the making

The Landmark Preservation Commission's vote was the product of years of lobbying by Lewendowski and the Anneslie board.

The quest for historic designation for Anneslie began when an intern at the Maryland Historical Trust took on the project as her thesis project, but left before it was completed. Lewendowski stepped in and took over when he moved to Anneslie four years ago.

Lewendowski, a field biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, connected with Peter Kurtze, national register administrator for the Maryland Historical Trust, to assist with the application.

Kurtze helped the community through the process and formatted the expanse of information collected by Lewendowski in his research of real estate and county records, as well as his door-to-door visits across the neighborhood.

Lewendowski also expressed gratitude to Teri Rising of the county's office of planning, who gave a presentation at the Landmark Preservation Commission's November meeting.

Fifth District County Councilman David Marks, who spent five years as the vice chairman for the Baltimore County Historic Trust, also spoke in support of the designation at the meeting.

"Historic preservation issues are important to me," Marks said.

In his remarks, the councilman noted that there are three original communities in Towson: Stoneleigh, Rodgers Forge and Anneslie.

The other two are already on the National Register of Historic Places, and Marks told the commission that Anneslie's move to that designation would be yet another aspect that attracts young families to the Towson community.

"My job there was to basically support the local community association, which had done most of the work," Marks said.

"It seemed like everything was in order, and we're fortunate that Rodgers Forge and Stoneleigh have gone down this road ahead of us," McGovern said. "We're one of three communities that are inter-meshed here on York Road to get it."

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