Baltimore County landmark panel declines to save 1920s cottage in Cockeysville from demolition

The Baltimore Sun

In a 6-to-4 vote, the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission declined last night to save a 1920s cottage in Cockeysville from demolition. Neighbors had petitioned to have the home at Sherwood and Cedar Knoll roads placed on a preliminary preservation list. That action would preclude any action on the building until a review by county officials and a public hearing.

Commission members said that two additions to the home compromised its historic and architectural integrity. They said the house did not meet strict preservation guidelines, despite its association with Cockeysville's founding families. The panel relied heavily on a county planning report that said, "The property does not retain the essential physical features that made up its original character and appearance, which are necessary to convey historic context."

The owner of house, which is now a frame shop and furniture business, plans to raze it and build a three-story office and retail complex.

More than a dozen neighbors testified about the historic context of the two-story house and about the historic character of the neighborhood dominated by Sherwood Episcopal Church, a candidate for the National Historic Register.

"To destroy any structure that has this significance is beyond comprehension," said Dudley Hodgson, whose 1892 Victorian is nearby on Cedar Knoll.

C. Bruce Boswell, the preservation commission chairman, reiterated throughout the lengthy discussion, in which most speakers exceeded their three-minute time limit, that the panel was charged with looking only at the house.

"Most of us have fought similar community battles," he said. "That's why we are sitting on a volunteer board, but we have strict guidelines to follow."

Lawrence Schmidt, an attorney representing the home's owners, who did not attend the hearing, said the opposition is to his clients' plan.

"This is about trying to stop development, not preserving a building," he said. "Clearly, historic criteria is not present."

Kate Masterton, an attorney and neighbor, said the community will still fight to preserve the house.

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