Dec 13, 2006

Some good preservation news (for a change)

From today's Baltimore Sun:

Historic black school to be moved, rehabbed

With trucks roaring past the rickety, two-story clapboard building about six feet from busy Route 7 in eastern Baltimore County, Robert Wells recalled that at least twice in recent years cars have slammed into the historic schoolhouse. Wells said he and other members of the Union of Brothers and Sisters Fords Asbury Lodge #1 -- a benevolent association founded in 1872 to help freed slaves get settled -- grew so wary of the traffic whizzing by that they stopped meeting there three years ago when a road widening gobbled up several feet of the school's front lawn.
"I wanted more than the wall and a few feet between me and the road," said Wells, lodge vice president and a member for more than a decade. Yesterday, state and local officials stood on an adjacent half-acre parcel that a local developer has donated to announce $125,000 in state funding to move the historic building to the lot and pave a parking area for the lodge. Read on.

Also in the article is this passage: "On the first floor, a narrow closet door just beyond the still-working kerosene heater leads to a secret doorway that opens to a crawl space where former slaves who were still indentured were given shelter, lodge members said."

The passage marks a little known and shameful episode in Maryland History when former Maryland slave-holders manipulated the state's legal system to enslave black children after emancipation. I first read about the practice in Fields' excellent Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground.