HAGERSTOWN, MD (May 18, 2022) – The Washington County Board of County Commissioners awarded local citizens at the 42nd Annual John Frye Historic Preservation Awards ceremony and luncheon. The recipients were awarded for their dedication and commitment to preserving and protecting the history of Washington County through historic rehabilitation, restoration, infill, letters, and advocacy. Due to COVID, 2020, 2021, and 2022 recipients were acknowledged and presented awards during today’s ceremony.
2020 John Frye Historic Preservation Award Recipients
Smithsburg Townhall Tower – 2020 Preservation Award
The town of Smithsburg’s bicentennial celebrations in 2013 planted the seed for this restoration effort. Billie Sue Boyer and her co-chair Tyra Guyton, members of the Smithsburg Historical Society formed a committee to restore the turret of the town hall building, which had in effect been chopped down to a stump of its former self when the top, or turret of the tower was removed in the 1980s when the town did not have funds for the major repairs it needed. The alteration of the building, however, ruined the proportions and dignity of the building, which was built as a community meeting hall in the early 1890s.
The town hall tower committee sought community donations for the project to fund the architectural and engineering work. Other fundraisers to pay for the construction included raffles and a house and garden tour. Grant money from two local charities, the Henry Funkhouser Foundation and especially the Delaplaine Foundation provided crucial funding. Bill Wivell, the local State Delegate was also instrumental in getting a modest state bond bill to complete the project’s funding.
Working from historic photos for context, since the original materials of the upper turret had long since been carted away to the dump, this “restoration” should really be called a “historically sensitive re-creation.” The restoration effort was completed by Bob Rauth, of A. V. Rauth and Sons, a local contractor. The architectural appearance is as faithful a recreation as possible.
Jacques Hager – 2020 Advocacy Award
Smithsburg Middle School in the 1970s had many enthusiastic teachers, but Jacques Hager was legendary. He taught history and world cultures and was well-liked by his students. Physically, he was imposing, well over six feet tall, lean but muscular, hair buzzed short, “military issue” horn-rimmed glasses. At first sight, he looked imposing and possibly mean. (He wasn’t. Not at all.)
As students studied world cultures, he brought in wooden shoes, kimonos, and best of all, food! He served caviar on crackers for Russia, borscht from Eastern Europe, smoked salmon from Scandinavia, dried squid, and shrimp from China, rice cakes from Japan, candied ginger from China, dates from the Mediterranean, and pickled herring from Scandinavia. But his real love was Washington County history and he gave both talent and funds to preserve it for future generations.
His family roots ran deep into Washington County history, as is evidenced by his first name; he pronounced it “jakes” which would make a French teacher cringe, but his way of saying it was correct because it was actually an old family name. Jacques Hager was a descendant of Lancelot Jacques, who operated the Catoctin Furnace and Green Spring Furnace in the 18th century, and also had a part in the “Annapolis Tea Party”, i.e. the burning of the Peggy Stewart. During his summers off from teaching, Jacques Hager was a volunteer with the Friends of Fort Frederick. He supported the restoration of an original Civilian Conservation Corp Camp Building that was relocated back to Fort Frederick State Park in 2004. He also volunteered with other museums in the County and supported their work.
Mulberry Lofts – 2020 Adaptive Reuse Award
When approaching Hagerstown from the east, a striking renovation of a 100-year-old building can be seen by looking left off Route 40/Franklin Street, giving visitors a clear indication that Hagerstown’s revitalization is real. Mulberry Lofts, a $3.5 million investment downtown, offers contemporary office space for businesses large and small.
This u-shaped building was once the Southern Shoe Manufacturing Company, long abandoned and in need of transition. Over a period of three years, the current owners stripped out the 77,000 square feet and created space for 32 tenants, saving a building with good bones, built in the 1920s.
Through clever financing the project provided tenants, who include engineering and insurance firms, dance studios, a child care group, and a bakery, to name a few, with affordable places to launch start-ups. This Adaptive Reuse award was intended for 2020, but COVID got in the way. The award goes to Aaron Peteranecz of Design Method Group, whose offices are located in the building.
2021 John Frye Historic Preservation Award Recipients
Jonathan Street Cabin, 417 Jonathan Street – 2021 Preservation Award
This award is given jointly to two groups because it took an alert demolition contractor to recognize the importance of the cut of the logs he uncovered when preparing to remove the cabin from its site following its being hit by car, severely damaging one front corner.
That recognition halted the project, while historians were called to evaluate the age of somewhere between 1739 and 1741, a period of time relative to Jonathan Hager, founder of Hagerstown. The Merrbaugh family, owners of Allegany Wrecking & Salvage acted to preserve the structure.
Funding and preservation came through Preservation Maryland to the Western Maryland Community Development Corporation, headed by Reggie Turner, Tereance Moore, Scott Guillory, Mitchell Branch and Kenyatte Mason, who coordinated the sale, rehabilitation and preservation of the building. It was important that the project fit within their community-based strategies to provide affordable options in the neighborhood. It is a small, but livable historic home.
2022 John Frye Historic Preservation Award Recipients
Valentina Farm – 2022 Preservation Award
Mary Roulette Flowers grew up at Valentia Farm with her parents, her brother, and her grandmother Helen (Poffenberger) Roulette. In 1974 Helen proudly nominated the property for the National Register of Historic Places. Mary’s great grandfather Judge T.A. Poffenberger bought the mill settlement in 1908. Prior to his time at Valentia, Judge Alexander Armstrong owned it from 1863 to 1908. The original owners, the Clagett’s preceded Judge Armstrong, obtained the land grant in 1749, and operated a grain and plaster mill until 1863.
Mary and her brother Dick became the caretakers of Valentia in 1989. Over the next 20 years, the property progressed down the road to “demolition by neglect.” In 2009, Mary decided that the structures needed to be saved and began what she calls the “process” of preservation traveling back to Washington County from Wicomico County on weekends for 12 years. Descendants of the original Clagett’s renamed the property Valentia on Valentine’s Day, 1815. Valentia translates from Spanish to “heroic deed” or “act of bravery,” which Mary and her husband demonstrate as they work at their bend of the Antietam Creek.
Beaver Creek School Museum – 2022 Adaptive Reuse Award
The Adaptive Reuse Award for 2022 is given by the Washington County Historical Advisory Committee. The two-room schoolhouse was purchased from the Washington County Historical Society by John Barr who restored the school and converted it into a museum and meeting location. Mr. Barr attended elementary school at Beaver Creek and has a personal interest in the school. He often recreates “Hot dog Wednesday”, a tradition at the school.
The school had been in use until the 1960s when it was given to the Historical Society by Washington County. The purchase by Mr. Barr represents a victory for the society and the community: future generations will always be able to see what a two-room school looked like and will be able to visit the school. By agreement, the outside of the school will always look like a school.
For additional information contact Public Relations and Marketing Director Danielle Weaver at 240-313-2380.