Beautification awards have been bestowed upon three residential properties by the Havre de Grace Historic Preservation Commission.
The owners of houses at 110 S. Washington St., 800 Conesteo St. and 617 Market St. were honored during the June 18 City Council meeting.
Commission chair Ronald Browning said the beautification awards are different from the Historic Preservation Awards the city commission gives out each year. This year’s historic preservation awards were announced in April and were presented to the owners of two houses and for the city-owned Havre de Grace Cultural Center at the Opera House, for their efforts to restore or preserve those structures.
Commission members decided that the preservation awards “just didn’t cover everything that we needed to do here in Havre de Grace,” hence the additional beautification awards, Browning said.
“We wanted to pay some honor to the people that make significant improvements to their grounds and buildings while respecting the original designs of their homes,” commission member Kathleen Lee said. “The changes they made have improved the beauty of our city.”
She later said this is the first year for the beautification awards, as the commission wanted to recognize residential property owners who have “made a significant improvement to the appearance” of the structure.
The owners of the Washington Street house, Dana Harris and John Harris III, took a structure that was “totally dilapidated” and “turned it into a beautiful home” inside and out, Lee said during the meeting.
The Harrises both had to work and could not attend the council meeting, according to Lee.
Deborah and John Bangs, owners of the Conesteo Street house, took a dwelling with a brown exterior and brown shutters and “turned it into a pretty cheerful-looking house” with flowers, yellow siding and blue shutters, Lee said. She described the house’s previous look as “the brown blob.”
The Bangs have lived there for about a year. John Bangs said his wife wanted “wanted a happy house, and that’s what we got.”
“We constantly enjoy having people come by and tell us how beautiful the house is,” he said.
The Market Street house had been refurbished by a previous owner, and the current owners, Erin and Stephen Carig, have continued in “keeping it very nice looking,” Lee said.
“Now, it is just a really nice-looking, welcoming house,” she said.
“I do appreciate the recognition, thank you very much,” Erin Carig said.
Mayor William T. Martin presented city flags and posed for photos with the homeowners, along with commission members, Council President David Glenn and Councilwoman Monica Worrell, the council liaison to the HPC.
Worrell said “it is tough,” in a city such as Havre de Grace that has many historic structures, “to always take care of the homes the way they need to and take them back to their splendor.”
“When you can’t take it back to a historic splendor, to be able to take to something as beautiful as it is, to be something that adds to the value of our town, you’ve done a tremendous thing and we’re very blessed that you have,” Worrell said of the homeowners’ beautification efforts.
Glenn said he is proud to say he lives in Havre de Grace.
“It’s because of residents like this who take it to another level, to really make Havre de Grace something we can all be proud of,” Glenn said.
Martin said the Historic Preservation Commission meets at City Hall monthly, and the members are not “a round table of people talking about days gone by.” They are focused on the past, present and future of Havre de Grace, the mayor said.
“Without encouraging people to do what these folks did, then many of these homes would either A, not be renovated or B, be torn down,” he said of the award winners.
Martin said the commission is a “valuable resource” for residents, such as people moving into the city or people who own structures that are 80 or 100 years old and want to start a project on that building.
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“They’re here to help you,” he said.