New director helps Historical Society of Carroll County celebrate 80 years

As part of the Historical Society of Carroll County’s 80th anniversary celebration, the organization’s new executive director was introduced on Tuesday evening at an event that included a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

Steve Jakobovic, from Charlottesville, Virginia, was announced as the society’s new executive director on Monday and he will start in the new position on Oct. 21. Jakobovic was in attendance at the celebration of the 80th anniversary for the local business community after making the 3 1/2-hour journey from Virginia. He doesn’t expect to be making the commute for long.


“I plan on being moved in by next week,” said Jakobovic. “I start on the 21st. ... I need to fill out an application and get a place really quickly; probably rent first and then buy.”

The primary purpose of the Historical Society of Carroll County is “education and preservation," according to Historical Society of Carroll County Board of Trustees President Frank Batavick.


“The education part comes from giving school children tours of the Shellman House and of our museum,” said Batavick. “We publish articles about the history, we do a courier, which has some historic items in there as well as information for our membership base.”

The Historical Society of Carroll County began with the community coming together when the Shellman House was in jeopardy of being torn down and turned into a gas station in 1939, according to Batavick.

Jakobovic had the opportunity to meet members of the community and the Historical Society at the celebration, beginning his incorporation into Carroll County before his start date.

After years of working with an asset management firm that partnered with endowments, foundations and other nonprofits to help with their investing needs, Jakobovic decided he wanted try the nonprofit end of the spectrum after seeing all the hard work and passion that went into the organizations.

“Several years ago, I came to the realization that I want to be on the other side of the table and join the nonprofit world,” said Jakobovic. “Because of my background of studying history and culture, the Historical Society made a lot of sense.”

According to Jakobovic, culture has always been interesting to him, after growing up in New York City and studying sociology.

“I really am fascinated about the past,” said Jakobovic. “I love old buildings, houses, farm equipment, school houses, early industry and while I’m really interested in the lives of the known names in history, I’m really also fascinated by daily life and how the average person sort of works to make ends meet.”

It was Jakobovic’s love for old buildings that really made him stand out during the interview process.

“Steve is not a historian. We had many people apply who were historians or had been curators or even had been executive directors but they just didn’t have the same verve as he did, they didn’t have the same energy, they didn’t have the vision," said Batavick. “He also had done a tremendous amount of research on the Historical Society here in Carroll County, not just online but elsewhere. He showed up with a book that he had gotten from a library down his way about the architecture of Westminster, Maryland.”

According to Batavick, Jakobovic got to his second interview a day early and spent it taking in the architecture and history on Main Street and expressed his enthusiasm at the interview the next day.

There will be some overlap between Jakobovic and the interim Executive Director Kristen McMasters, to help him get acclimated in the new position.

“I’ll be here at least another week or two after he comes, there’s a lot of paperwork that has to happen,” said McMasters. “He has to figure out where the filing system is, gets codes into the computer, also making sure he gets introduced to all the committee and tries to meet some of our prominent donors and some of the folks that have been long term members, although [Tuesday was] a great opportunity to do that.”


Tuesday’s event was a time for locals to mingle, meet the new executive director and commemorate the Historical Society of Carroll County. The ribbon-cutting was held in honor of the 80 years. Jakobovic cut the ribbon as society members held it in place. That was followed by a reception that Batavick hoped would recruit some new business members. To try to get new members, the Historical Society offered 50% off the membership fee if they attended the event.

According to McMasters, the Historical Society of Carroll County serves as the center of history for all of Carroll County.

“I like to think of us as sort of the center of a wheel,” said McMasters. “We try to make sure that our focus reaches out to Sykesville and Taneytown, to Mount Airy and all the way the to Manchester. We cover the history for the entire region and we try to be very supportive of all the smaller historical societies that are now independent in some of those corners.

"We really try to be the place where you can come and find research records and we try to be the place that boosters history for the school systems and for all the residents of Carroll County.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun