Harford County's historic Joesting-Gorsuch House was rededicated on Friday in Street, 11 miles from where the house once stood for more than two centuries before facing likely demolition.
The rededication was hosted by Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and included descendants of the home's original owners, as well as a former neighbor of the house who was instrumental in saving and restoring it.
With its main structure dating to the mid-to-late 1700s, the Joesting-Gorsuch House is listed in the Maryland Historical Trust and is believed to be one of Harford County's oldest homes.
Named for two of its former owners, the structure was renovated over the years, beginning as a farmhouse, then a family home, and later used as a pro shop and clubhouse on the grounds of the Winters Run Golf Club in Bel Air.
When the golf course owners elected to sell some of their property, the new owner planned on razing the structure to make way for five new houses. Efforts to save the house initially were rebuffed.
What happened next was recalled at Friday's rededication by preservationist and author, C. John Sullivan Jr.
"I stood and said, 'Am I the only person left in Harford County that cares about an old house?' Apparently someone heard my remarks. That someone was County Executive Barry Glassman," Sullivan said.
The Glassman administration saved the structure piece by piece, dismantling it and storing the parts in containers, after the golf course management said it was amendable to having the structure moved from its property.
Floorboards, rafters, wooden panels and bricks from the fireplace were carefully collected and tagged for reassembly sometime, and somewhere, down the road.
The new location, on county-owned property at 3525 Conowingo Road in Street, was the site of Friday's rededication held on the first anniversary of the day the disassembly began.
Sullivan served as the volunteer project manager for the rescue and relocation, which was funded by dedicated revenue from the county's hotel/lodging fee to promote tourism. He lives near the house's original location off Tollgate Road.
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The history of the house is Harford County's own history. For instance, Sullivan said, his research found the 3-inch-thick slate fireplace hearth is a slate from the Town of Bel Air's original slate sidewalks.
Pointing to the brick fireplace at Friday's rededication, Mary Kay Field, granddaughter of William and Elizabeth Joesting, remembered seeing her grandmother cooking in the house over a fire.
Glassman revealed a plaque above the same fireplace, marking the occasion and thanking Sullivan, the Harford County Historical Society, Reiff Brothers contractors and county employees for their efforts.
He noted plans for the Joesting-Gorsuch House to be opened one day as a visitors center. It sits near property where the county executive envisions creating an agricultural research and learning center for the next generation.
Speaking of the reconstructed house, sometimes called the "blue house," after its blue-gray exterior paint, Glassman said: "The blue house pays tribute to our agricultural heritage. Historic homes change over time as society progresses, and they evolve each time they are updated or rebuilt. They are an expression of where we are today. But this interpretation will stand for another 250 years."
Quoting the words of Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, he said, "Buildings that move the spirit have always been rare, but in every case they are unique, poetic and products of the heart."
"I will admit the decision to save this house was indeed a product of the heart; a decision I am most proud of and one which will represent the heritage of Harford County beyond all of our lifetimes," Glassman said.