A Westminster home that has roots in the rise of Methodism in America and the Mount Airy train station that dates back to the beginnings of the B&O Railroad are slated to benefit from state grant funding.
The Gov. Larry Hogan administration announced in a release July 13 that Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) was awarding $5.1 million in grant funding to Maryland nonprofits, local jurisdictions and other heritage tourism organizations.
Among the 114 grants distributed by MHAA were one each for the City of Westminster and the Town of Mount Airy.
Mount Airy train station
Nearly $18,000 will go toward a roof replacement of Mount Airy’s train station at 1 N. Main St. The station houses the Historical Society of Mount Airy, which operates a museum inside. The station was built in 1875 and designed by the famous train station designer E. Francis Baldwin, according to a sign displayed outside the station. It served the B&O Railroad until 1957, then provided space for a number of local businesses and physicians.
The station was built as a one-story brick freight depot that was about 51 feet long and 25 feet wide, according to Mike Eacho of the historical society. Additions expanded the freight handling area in 1876. A wooden passenger facility was added in 1882, then was replaced with brick in the early 1900s.
Town engineer Barney Quinn said the station’s roof is in need of replacement and the heritage grant will help preserve the structure. He said there’s at least one leak in the roof.
“The roofing material is just ready to be replaced,” Quinn said.
Mount Airy Mayor Pat Rockinberg said the station is a fixture in the town, complemented by the restored caboose across the street. It’s also near the town’s Rails to Trails path.
“We love preserving our history,” he said.
Westminster’s Durbin House
In Westminster, $25,000 of heritage grant funds will go toward the historic Durbin House, which sits inside the former Wakefield Valley Golf Course.
Abby Gruber, director of recreation and parks for the city, said the money will be used to assess the historic structure for possible future use when the city reaches its goal of developing the area further for use as Wakefield Valley Park.
“The house has sat vacant for over a decade,” Gruber said.
Durbin House was built in 1767 by William Durbin, who was a member of Robert Strawbridge’s original class of Methodism, Gruber said, reading from town records. Bishop Francis Asbury, one of the first two bishops in the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, visited the home in 1772.
The house is included on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. It stands two stories tall and is about 2,800 square feet, according to Gruber. She estimates the total assessment will cost about $50,000.
The assessment, which will be conducted by a professional firm that has yet to be hired, will examine the historic components of the house and its structural integrity so that an appropriate use can be determined, Gruber said. Durbin House could be a future visitors center or a space for the community to rent, she speculated, but an assessment must be conducted first. Gruber hopes Durbin House can be used in a way that benefits the future park while preserving its historic character.
“This is very exciting for us and certainly is going to help progress our purposeful rehabilitation of the Durbin House,” she said.
Westminster Mayor Joe Dominick expressed appreciation for the funding.
“It’s very important to preserve historic structures,” he said. “Grants are really important when it comes to this kind of thing.”
MHAA oversees the state’s 13 heritage areas, which span every jurisdiction in Maryland, according to the state’s release. “Heritage areas foster broad public-private partnerships to preserve and enhance the best of Maryland’s historic sites and towns, unspoiled natural landscapes, and enduring traditions,” the release reads.
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The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, which encompasses parts of Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties, was also awarded grants from MHAA. It received $100,000 for management of the heritage area, $8,000 for marketing the heritage area, and $25,000 to be distributed as mini-grants to stakeholders in the region, a Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area release states.