Drive seeking $200,000 to save 'Harford heritage'


"Safeguard Harford's magnificent heritage."

The Historical Society of Harford County will be using that pitch starting this week in an effort to raise $200,000 for a Historical Society Foundation.

Society members said the interest on that endowment -- expected to be about $10,000 annually at today's rates -- would be used to pay for historical preservation projects, such as the encapsulation of old documents in acid-proof material.

The group, which has more than 370 members, also hopes to raise an additional $50,000 to pay for moving from its present quarters on Courtland Street in Bel Air to the former post office building on Main Street in Bel.

The cost would include improvements to the new headquarters, said Duncan Mackenzie, chairman of the effort to raise money for the endowment.

Patricia Hathaway, president of the historical society, said the archives' collections are "priceless."

I= "They date back a couple of centuries. We have so much we

couldn't possibly put all the collections in that building at 33 Courtland, and besides, it's not fireproof," she said.

Hathaway said the society's collection is located in three buildings: Courtland Street, Aberdeen High School and Southampton Middle School.

The new post office location will allow the society to put all its archives in one place, thus allowing more public access to the documents, said Hathaway.

The society plans to refurbish the old post office and buy climate-controlled display cases, shelves and furniture.

The non-profit society relies on membership annual dues -- $15 for singles and $25 for couples -- to cover operating costs. None of the foundation money would be used for operating expenses, Mackenzie said.

Hathaway said the group's efforts to preserve Harford's historical heritage are important because the county has many new residents who don't know its history, but are helping to shape policy.

"A society that doesn't value its past is like a person with amnesia, who doesn't know who they were or who they are," Hathaway said.

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