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160-year-old Glencoe Train Station at Gunpowder slated to be rebuilt in White Hall

North County News
Glencoe Train Station once served Northern Central Railroad between Baltimore and York, Pa.

As a result of a rare meeting of the minds by folks with potentially disparate interests, the 160-year-old Glencoe Train Station was granted a reprieve from demolition earlier this year and is slated to be disassembled and rebuilt in White Hall.

The building on Home Road in Gunpowder Falls State Park, just north of Glencoe Road in Glencoe, that once served the Northern Central Railroad line between Baltimore and York, Pa., was likely to be razed by its owner, the state Department of Natural Resources, until preservationists, politicians, community members and a government agency came together just in a nick of time.

The move would allow the building, which has been vacant since a flood in 2010 and has deteriorated into an eyesore, to remain close to the Torrey C. Brown Trail, formerly known as the Northern Central Railroad Trail.

Instead of squabbling, people who held the fate of the old station in their hands responded by making a decision that was satisfying to all sides.

It all began when Trish Bentz, the executive director of the Preservation Alliance of Baltimore County, noticed on a website that a petition had been signed by 50 people from communities close to the station demanding that the structure, also known as Edmund's House, be torn down.

The petition's proponent, Kevin McCaughey, was opposed to spending taxpayers' money to restore the building at its current site. On the other hand, the alliance was still hoping to find a way to save a structure that was already nearly a decade old when President Abraham Lincoln's funeral train passed by on its journey to Springfield, Ill.

"We had several meetings at the site which included Maryland State Dels. Susan Aumann and Chris West, Baltimore County Councilman Wade Kach, McCaughey and several interested community members to attempt to find a common ground solution that would still preserve the historic station," Bentz said.

Bentz said that the group mulled over a variety of options.

"To restore the station in its current location would not be a prudent solution as it is in a flood plain which is active several times a year," she said. "Elevating the structure to avoid water damage would take the building out of context as a station. Demolishing it [and taking it] to the landfill was not a preferred solution, either."

Bentz then put out feelers on a website to see if anyone was interested in tearing down the station and rebuilding it elsewhere.

It didn't take long for them to get a response from Millstone Cellars owner Curtis Sherrer, who crafts artisanal hard ciders and mead at his operation in Monkton.

"I'm interested in history," said Sherrer, 56, a Dulaney High School grad whose bottled libations are distributed regionally and as far away as California and New York. "I'm doing it to save the station, not to make a buck. It should be a fun thing to do, but it's going to take a while. As long as it's not too much of a burden, I'll do it. But the devil's in the details." If Sherrer's plan is approved, the preservation alliance said it will help recruit volunteers to help with some of the grunt work.

Part of the deal is waiting for the DNR to issue a Request for Proposal, which is an open competitive bidding process.

The DNR must field other offers, if any are forthcoming, from the general public for a 30-day period in order to give anyone else interested a chance to tackle the project.

DNR spokeswoman Karis King said earlier this month that the RFP could be posted as early as this week.

Sherrer said that if there are no unforeseen complications and he can get started in April, the building can be torn down by November. The rebuilding time is less definite.

"Depending on the condition of the materials and getting different permits, it's tougher to figure out," he said about the projected completion time. "But I think two years would be a reasonable time."

After all, Sherrer has restored two buildings, Monkton Mill and the Mill House, from the same era.

If he gets approval to proceed, Sherrer plans to use the reconstructed building for light retail space, such as selling pizza, coffee and, possibly, cider to folks headed to or from the NCR/Brown Trail.

Sherrer is hoping to buy the 22-acre Paper Mill on Wiseburg Road in White Hall, which he said would be a "perfect fit" to relocate and reassemble the station.

He added that he would restore the station to its original style, without additions that subsequent residents attached to the building, while keeping architectural gems such as vintage eaves brackets that give the building a unique look to train stations of that era.

"It will be a beautiful building once we take all the junk off of it," said Sherrer, a winemaker and lawyer who spent a decade restoring the vintage 19th-century grist mill in Monkton in which he crafts low-alcohol custom ciders and mead.

Although statistics about passenger usage at the station are unavailable, the fact that the Northern Central line it served was double-tracked and equipped with block signals between Baltimore and Harrisburg by World War I shows its viability.

According to the website trainweb.org, "the line carried heavy passenger and freight traffic until the 1950s. On-line freight included flour, paper, milk, farm products, coal, and less-than-carload shipments between such settlements as White Hall, Parkton, Bentley Springs, Lutherville, and the city of Baltimore."

There was even a local commuter service, referred to as the "Parkton local," that ran from the Calvert Station in Baltimore to Parkton. The service was dropped in 1959 after the completion of I-83, and the line was reduced to a single track.

The aftermath of Hurricane Agnes in 1972 forced the line to shut down permanently.

While the Glencoe Train Station/Edmund's House may never reach the grandeur of the nearby Monkton Train Station, which has already been restored, its rejuvenation would give the area another nice gathering spot for hikers, bikers, runners and nature lovers.

Dels. Aumann and West and Councilman Kach are enthusiastic about the preservation decision and how it was made.

"When the community and government work together, it's a win-win," Aumann said. "You have a preservation aspect to it and you're also removing an eyesore. Now we have some hope and something to look forward to."

Kach said that he toured the building with DNR officials before making a determination on its future and is on board with the plan to move the landmark.

"I'm really excited about it," he said. "What more could you ask for?"

Not much, according to West.

"I could not be more tickled how we resolved the issue," he said.

Allaying community residents' fears of what will be left of the station's footprint after removal, part of the solution is to fill in the cellar to ground level and, possibly, turn the area into a playground to fully complete a smooth process.

"It's a classic case of how preservation should work," said Ruth Mascari, the Preservation Alliance of Baltimore County chairwoman. "You have a neglected landmark, upset citizens and a nonprofit [organization] being brought in. Then we brought in state government. You just don't always see things come together like this."

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