The fate of the 107-year-old Uniontown bank building will be determined in early September, if it even makes it until then.
The Carroll County Historic Preservation Commission will meet Sept. 10 at the historic schoolhouse in Uniontown to discuss the fate of the former rural community bank. On the table is an application from Historic Uniontown Inc. to demolish the building, but the county Historic Preservation Commission is considering every possibility of saving the building.
"It would be with great reluctance, I believe, that we would approve [the application]," said commission member Jim Bradley. "We're a preservation commission, not a demolition company."
The bank building has been owned by Historic Uniontown Inc. — a four-member board of town residents tasked with preserving the community's historic properties — since 1979 when Taneytown Bank operations were moved to another Uniontown location. The building was originally constructed by the Carroll County Savings Bank in 1907 before it was purchased by the Taneytown Bank in 1951.
Historic Uniontown Inc. has replaced the roof, repaired iron bars on the windows, replaced a boiler and made other repairs to the building over the years with grant money the organization received.
The organization had planned further repairs but has lacked funding, which has resulted in the building deteriorating over the years.
After receiving Historic Uniontown Inc.'s application for demolition in July, the Historic Preservation Commission contracted Morabito Consultants, a structural engineering firm, to evaluate the building on Aug. 13.
The engineer's report confirmed what was already assumed: The rear wall of the bank is structurally unsafe and needs to be replaced.
Morabito's engineer proposed a reconstructed wooden rear wall with a vinyl exterior siding facade as a cost-effective option.
To consider the building structurally safe, Morabito advised repairing ceiling and floor rafters and joists, floor framing that is "rotten and deteriorated," and a first-floor bathroom that has collapsed into the basement.
The consulting firm also strongly recommended additional repairs to ensure the structural integrity of the building, including an assessment of the existing roof's condition and improved drainage of water from the building.
Although the Historic Preservation Commission is looking at every possibility to preserve the building, Historic Uniontown Inc. members remain concerned with how long the building will remain standing if nothing is done and how the community can fund the upkeep of the property.
Roland Childs, chairman of Historic Uniontown Inc., said he has not yet seen the engineer's report, but the feelings in Uniontown toward the bank haven't changed.
"We don't have any money, period. It's just going to have to go," he said.
The Historic Preservation Commission is in charge of approving or denying the application, but the county Bureau of Permits and Inspections has the power to override a commission decision if it believes the building is a public hazard.
One thing is agreed upon by members of both groups: The building won't make it through the winter if nothing is done.
The Uniontown Historic District, composed of about 75 homes in the area of Uniontown and Trevanion roads west of Westminster, is listed on the state's inventory of historic places.
Historic Uniontown Inc. also holds the deed to the town's one-room schoolhouse, built in 1851, and since the early 1970s it has been working to restore and maintain that property.
The demolition application proposed that Historic Uniontown Inc. members would front the money for demolition, at a cost of about $20,000, and the adjoining property owners would then each pay $10,000 for half of the property.