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Workers begin dismantling historic Joesting-Gorsuch House near Bel Air

Workers begin dismantling historic Joesting-Gorsuch House on Winters Run Golf Club near Bel Air Wednesday morning. The house is one of the oldest structures in Harford County, and it is being removed to make way for building new homes on a portion of the golf club property. (David Anderson and Dan Griffin, Baltimore Sun Media Group

Workers with the Pennsylvania firms of Reiff Brothers and Fairview Demolition tore out anything modern, such as wall plaster and a rear deck, from the historic Joesting-Gorsuch House near Bel Air Wednesday morning, as they started stripping the house to its oldest parts.

The main structure of the house, which dates to the 1700s, will be taken apart, stored and then reassembled, potentially as a tourist site or visitor center for Harford County.

The house is being removed from where it has sat for centuries, the north end of the modern-day Winters Run Golf Club, so new five new homes can be built on nearly 12 acres being sold by the golf club for development.

Workers with Fairview Demolition, of Oxford, Pa., begin dismantling the rear deck and clearing brush from the historic Joesting-Gorsuch House on the property of the Winters Run Golf Club near Bel Air Wednesday morning.
Workers with Fairview Demolition, of Oxford, Pa., begin dismantling the rear deck and clearing brush from the historic Joesting-Gorsuch House on the property of the Winters Run Golf Club near Bel Air Wednesday morning. (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun)

"It's probably one of the oldest, if not the oldest structure in Harford County," County Executive Barry Glassman said during a visit to the site as the work got under way.

Glassman said the Historical Society of Harford County is overseeing the demolition and dismantling project, using a $50,000 grant drawn from county hotel tax revenue.

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"I'm really pleased that we were able to work it out with Winters Run," Glassman said. "It's a win-win; they'll get to record their lots, and we'll get to save this [house]."

Glassman said representatives of the Maryland Historical Trust recently updated the organization's survey of the house, which has been unused for a number of years, and took multiple photos to document the structure.

"I had them come out and do a complete inventory," he said.

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Glassman admired the historic wooden wall paneling around the fireplace in the living room, which he called "one of the most historically significant parts of the house."

Harford County officials and the Historical Society of Harford County are working to move and preserve the historic Joesting-Gorsuch House, which had been slated for demolition to make way for five new houses to be built on the north side of the Winters Run Golf Club property near Bel Air.

"It's so old, that it is sort of like putting together a puzzle by lathing and so forth," he said. "There's no nails involved at all."

Glassman said the pieces of the structure will be stored in shipping containers on county property at Route 136 and Route 1 in Dublin to keep them dry while a permanent location is found to re-assemble them.

Five workers, including Lee Bixler, of Reiff Brothers in Ephrata, Pa., and four men with Fairview, which is in Oxford, Pa., spent Wednesday morning tearing out walls in the kitchen and second-floor rooms and dismantling a wooden rear deck and stairway, obvious contemporary additions to the original structure.

Fairview is working as a subcontractor with Reiff Brothers.

"It looks like a fun project," Fairview worker Melvin King said.

King said he enjoys working in older structures and seeing the historic forms of construction.

"It amazes me, a lot of this was done by hand," he said of the woodwork for the Gorsuch House.

Lee Bixler, of Reiff Brothers, said the demolition project should take about three weeks "unless we run into something we don't expect to find."

"We just have to get rid of all the trash and get everything out of our way and just see what we're dealing with," he said.

Bixler said the crews will also make drawings of the house in its present form as a guide for when it is rebuilt.

"Whoever puts it up can put it together the same way it came down," he said.

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