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Panel to seek more funds


A task force appointed by the Columbia Association believes an additional $125,000 will enable the group to start restoring the Woodlawn Slave Quarters this fall.

The crumbling, roofless stone building, which is on Columbia Association open space off Bendix Road, is believed to date to the early 1700s. The homeowners association created the task force in December to recommend a plan for the site and reinforced the fragile structure with wooden supports.

At a meeting Wednesday night, the task force decided to request additional money from the Columbia Association to be combined with $100,000 that the association has allocated.

Those funds would cover the estimated cost to restore exterior walls and put a roof on the structure "so it looks age-appropriate from the outside," said Dennis Mattey, assistant division director of open space management for the Columbia Association.

Mattey added: "Our goal is to stabilize it for a long, long time."

Early estimates indicate a more extensive renovation, including windows, a fireplace and restoration of the second story, would cost closer to $316,000, Mattey said.

The task force decided to ask for the funds "to do basic restoration to get the project started while we investigate other grant opportunities," said Mary Catherine Cochran, president of Preservation Howard County and a member of the task force.

In the long run, task force members have suggested, the slave quarters -- and possibly a nearby cottage and barn foundation -- could be used to offer educational archaeology and history programs.

Karen Lubieniecki, a historian contracted by the task force to research the slave quarters, said she has found strong evidence that slaves once lived on the Woodlawn property.

The property is believed to have belonged to the Dorsey family, early settlers of Howard County. Using government records, census records, wills and other sources, Lubieniecki said she was able to establish that two later owners of the property -- Allen Thomas and Henry Howard Owings -- also owned slaves.

"We've started to open the window, but we've only opened it a crack," she said. "Hopefully at some time we'll be able to paint some fuller picture of these people and what they were doing on the property."

The Columbia Association will have to give the public a chance to talk about the funding request at meetings before voting on the issue, said Pearl Atkinson-Stewart, an association board member for Owen Brown and chairwoman of the task force.


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