Former 1-room school in Sykesville may become black history museum


An abandoned schoolhouse off Oklahoma Road in Sykesville appears to be safe from the wrecking ball and may soon become a museum dedicated to black history.

"The Maryland Historic Trust is very much interested in giving the schoolhouse a renovation grant," said Town Councilman Jonathan Herman.

For several years, Councilman Eugene E. Johnson has tried to find money to preserve the building, which he calls "an important part of black history in Carroll County." His parents, older sisters and other African-Americans who grew up in Sykesville attended school in the one-room building.

Members of the Sykesville Historic Commission and James L. Schumacher, town manager, submitted a grant application to the state Office of Preservation Services late last year. The group estimated renovation costs at $52,000, most of which would be for materials. Volunteers would supply the labor.

The state awards a maximum $40,000 for restoration projects based on architectural and historical significance, urgency and geographic distribution.

Mr. Herman said he expects the town to receive the maximum state grant, in two $20,000 awards over a year's time. The town should receive the initial grant by the end of the summer, he said. "With $20,000, we could complete the first phase of the project," said Mr. Herman. "That would take care of the exterior work." The money would be used to preserve the roof, replace windows and doors and repair siding.

Mr. Johnson said he would like to have steps and a landing built at the entrance. Eventually, he hopes to see the building become a museum exhibiting school memorabilia.

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