Civic treasures likely to emerge from attic

Sykesville won't be posting an "occupant wanted" sign at the Town House next month.

When the police department moves to new headquarters next door, the Historic District Commission hopes to move memorabilia gathering dust in the municipal attic right into the vacated space.


The commission has collected hundreds of books, 70 years worth of town history on microfilm, old jailer's manacles, merchandise sold in Main Street stores at the turn of the century and antique furniture, including a chair Betsy Patterson used before she left town to marry Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Jerome.

Commission members would like to move everything downstairs and reclaim the space they relinquished when the expanding police and town manager's offices pushed the town's history into cold storage. With room to move, commission members could organize the items and make them available to the public.


"We could use the walls to display our photographs," said Rebecca Herman, chairwoman of the commission. "We could also organize a research and information area. It would add so much to what we could offer."

The commission would like to convert the police chief's second-floor office into an exhibit area. The opportunity to display won't come too soon for some people who have donated antiques and family heirlooms to the town.

"Some donors of historic items have asked that items not put on display be returned to them," said Thelma Wimmer, commission member. "I have stalled them on that request."

Ms. Wimmer also worried that prolonged storage in the unheated attic could damage the furniture.

"We have already thought of the Historic Commission for the space," said James L. Schumacher, town manager. "I see no problem with their request as long as we have the room."

The Gate House in Millard Cooper Park might be another possible site to show off the town's treasures.

The commission members have asked the state to lease the unoccupied two-story building to the town.

"The state deeded the park to the town, why not the house?" asked Mrs. Herman. "The state told us last year it would be willing to let us lease it, but it would take months to process the request."


Trudy Brown, an administrator at Springfield Hospital, said she forwarded the request to the state Board of Public Works in June.

"The state has so many programs in process for unoccupied homes, it will be a while longer before a decision is made," Ms. Brown said.

The two-bedroom building, which once was part of the hospital, has more than enough room, Mrs. Herman said, and it would not need major repairs -- "just painting and sprucing up."

Volunteers could handle the cleanup, she said.

"We have enough for two displays," she said. "Hopefully, by January, we will have one."