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The heart of Savage


Savage has a heart of stone.

This stone, to be exact, was pulled from the bed of the Little Patuxent River some 70 years ago and used for the construction of the Carroll Baldwin Memorial Hall -- which, as the locals might assert, is the heart of this historic mill town in eastern Howard County.

The essence of that grand American institution known as the town hall, the building at Baltimore and Foundry streets has served variously as a library; the meeting place of such groups as the Savage Community Association and the Savage Homemakers, and the site of the annual Savage Fest, Medieval May Day and other town celebrations, plus smaller but no less lively get-togethers, from Christmas parties to country line dance classes.

Problem is, all the years and activity have left a great deal of wear and tear on the hall. The leaky roof needs repairs that might cost $50,000. The electrical system could stand to be updated by a decade or two or five. Some of the windows are falling apart.

"A lot of people drive by and say, 'Isn't that a pretty building,'" observes an official of the Carroll Baldwin Memorial Institute, the organization that manages the hall, "but they don't see the damage inside."

Savage residents have volunteered their time and talent to keep the decay at bay. Alas, their efforts haven't been enough. So, after a failed attempt to get a legislative award last year, the state and county governments have now come through with a pair of grants that will fund major repairs to the hall as well as make it accessible to the handicapped.

The state award of $70,000 was approved last month by the General Assembly. The Howard County government has promised to kick in $67,000, while the people of Savage are expected to contribute $3,000. The funds will not become available until after July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

Also later this year, the county might assign protective historic district designations to a section of Savage, including the vicinity of the hall, and to the Lawyers Hill area of Elkridge.

It's heartening to see this kind of interest in preserving local history. Especially in the case of Carroll Baldwin Hall, safeguarding a piece of the past ensures that the community's heart will continue beating well into the future.

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