A team of oxen are yoked together during an oxen driving demo on the grounds of the Carroll County Farm Museum in August 2015. A recent grant will be used to enhance the oxen exhibit.
A team of oxen are yoked together during an oxen driving demo on the grounds of the Carroll County Farm Museum in August 2015. A recent grant will be used to enhance the oxen exhibit. (DAVE MUNCH/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

The state has awarded Carroll County nonprofits, local jurisdictions and other heritage tourism organizations more than $100,000 to support projects to draw visitors and increase tourism-related jobs.

The Carroll County Farm Museum, Union Mills Homestead, Historical Society of Carroll County and the Sykesville Gate House Museum are among the county’s recipients of the grant which awarded $5 million across the state to promote the industry.


“Heritage tourism fosters sustainable economic development and job creation, while making our communities better places to live and work,” said Gov. Larry Hogan in a prepared statement. “Our administration is proud that this additional funding will allow for a record number of projects to move forward and congratulate Maryland’s Heritage Areas and their tourism partners for their support in changing Maryland for the better.”

Carroll County Farm Museum

A total of $10,275 will go toward the Carroll County Farm Museum’s Hoff Log Barn, which was built in the 1700s, for new signage and an exhibition on oxen.

Farm museum secures new stars: oxen team

Meet Jack and Jim, a pair of 3-year-old Devon oxen that will be making their debut at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster on April 18 to help demonstrate what farm life was like in the era of the museum's 1790s Hoff Memorial Barn.

“Oxen are part of the Hoff Barn exhibit,” Farm Museum Manager Joanne Weant said Monday. “The Hoff Barn Committee raised the funds to get the oxen for the museum [and] we have a lot of live things when the oxen are here — but they aren’t here over the winter. We are going to establish an actual exhibit in the lower part of the [barn].”

The funds will also go toward a new yoke for the oxen, since they have outgrown their current yoke, and perhaps a cart for them to pull, she said.

Weant said this is the second time the museum has received this funding and that she is happy to be able to be able to enhance the exhibit.

“We are super excited to get this funding,” Weant said. “It’s a very competitive process and we feel very grateful this funding is available.”

Carroll County Historical Society

The Carroll County Historical Society has also received MHAA grants in the past, and was awarded $50,000 this go-round.

Curator Cathy Baty said that those funds will go toward the heart of what the organization does.

We will use the funding “to do new exhibitions about Carroll County history,” she said this week. “We are hoping to be able to cover a large swath of Carroll County history to be able to give residents and visitors [a variety of topics].”

She said the historical society is wrapping up a project funded by a different grant that allowed the organization to improve its historical building — remove aluminum storm windows from the 1960s and restore the front facade.

“Grants are vital to any nonprofit like us because basically it doubles our money,” Baty said. “It’s a matching grant, so if we can find donors to help support us, this doubles their investment in Carroll County history.”

Union Mills Homestead

The Union Mills Homestead was awarded just under $25,000 to perform a professional study on the historic resources at the homestead.

“It’s actually a very important document,” said Sam Riley, president of the Union Mills Homestead board of governors. “Because although we have a very well-known history and [are] one of the most heavily documented historic sites around — because we’ve got so much information, letters, diaries, books, artifacts… and photographs — what we’ve not had done is a formal study that will actually assess what additional resources are at the site, including underground resources.

“It will include what’s called a ‘Phase 1’ archaeology assessment,” he said, “which won’t involve digging, but an assessment of basically where the tannery was and what resources are still available.”


The study also contributes to a larger potential goal, he said, to become recognized not only on the National Register of Historic Places, but also as a Historic Landmark which has more requirements.

Gate House Museum

The Gate House Museum in Sykesville has been awarded $18,000, which will also be matched by town funds, to make some safety improvements to the building, Sykesville Grants Manager Jared Schumacher said.

“The main support beam needs to be replaced,” he said. “Currently there’s kind of some homemade reinforcements keeping it up. The floor joist in the basement will need to be replaced as well.”

Schumacher said the funds will also go toward replacing and moving water lines that run up into the kitchen — because of the freezing in the museum’s basement — and for better insulation. It’s going to fix the safety concerns and the structure of the building, he said.

“It’s a historic building. We want to keep open. In order to keep the museum open and safe for the public, we need to do some of this structural work.”

The museum’s curator of history, Jack White, said grants like these are incredibly helpful for protecting old buildings like the Gate House.

“This is going to enable us to stabilize some of the problems we have with the old building without having to dig up our own funds somehow,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to improve and sustain what we are trying to do.”

The entire list of Maryland Heritage Area Authority grant recipients for Fiscal Year 2019 can be found online.