After years of work, Anneslie could gain historic designation

After years of preparation, Anneslie could join several other Towson neighborhoods, including Rodgers Forge and Stoneleigh, on the National Register of Historic Places.

"It's certainly something we'll be very proud of," said Scott McGovern, president of the Anneslie Community Association. "The designation is something that we'll advertise to let folks outside the community know just how wonderful Anneslie is."

The process began years ago, when the community association researched ways to commemorate the neighborhood's history. As a thesis project, an intern at the Maryland Historical Trust who lived in the neighborhood undertook the project of having Anneslie designated as a historic neighborhood.

But after collecting all the information, the intern took a job elsewhere, and the process was left unfinished.

For a time, it stalled. Then, Mark Lewendowski, who moved to Anneslie four years ago and serves on its board of governors, took over.

Using his connections to Peter Kurtze, national register administrator for the Maryland Historical Trust, Lewandowski was able to get the project back on track.

"Sometimes National Register nominations — whether prepared by students, volunteers, or professional consultants — need some additional work to get them across the finish line, and that's one of the things I do," Kurtze said in an email.

Lewandowski said supporters of the designation for Anneslie are grateful for the work Kurtze has done on their behalf.

"Peter has taken ownership of the application and is putting it in the proper format," Lewandowski said. "He wants to make sure we get it and didn't want to leave the job undone."

The process of gathering the necessary documentation has been a long one.

Lewandowski walked the entire neighborhood, going door to door and gathering information on every house.

He researched real estate listings and county records to find out how old the houses are and then submitted his information to Kurtze for formatting.

The materials were submitted to Kurtze early this year.

The application was ready to be reviewed in May, but with only Anneslie's application to review, the all-volunteer Review Committee, which would decide on the fate of the application, chose not to meet.

Lewandowski and McGovern are both hopeful that there's enough work for the committee to meet in October, and Kurtze hopes for a quick resolution to the application.

"I anticipate that the district will be listed in the National Register by early next year — or possibly before the end of 2011," Kurtze said.

The project has the support of Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who McGovern said has been "taking great pains to be a strong proponent of Towson."

Marks sent a letter supporting the designation to J. Rodney Little, director and state historic preservation officer for the Maryland Historical Trust.

"Towson has some of the most stable communities in Baltimore County, and several have already received historic designation," Marks said in the letter. "Anneslie clearly deserves to be added to this list."

On top of the prestige of joining the 86,255 other locations on the National Park Service's list, residents would also be entitled to a 20 percent tax credit for home restorations and renovations that fall within the Department of the Interior's criteria.

There are no limitations on what homeowners can do with their property on the national list.

Early in the process, McGovern said community leaders weighed their options between the national designation and a local one from Baltimore County. After consulting leaders from Rodgers Forge and Stoneleigh, it became clear that there were fewer drawbacks with the national designation.

If a property or neighborhood is listed on the county's Landmarks List, any work done on the property must go before the Landmark Preservation Commission, a move that McGovern said would have unnecessarily tied the hands of many Anneslie residents.

"We didn't want to do that," McGovern said. "We don't have covenants in Anneslie and a lot of folks like that. They respect the heritage of the neighborhood without being told to do so."

He said residents have been supportive of the board throughout the long, involved process.

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