Heritage Fund check presentation at Harford County Historical Society, 2017.

Heritage Fund Highlight: Historical Society of Harford County

08/15/2017
By Jessica Feldt

The Historical Society of Harford County is headquartered in the ca. 1936 former U.S. Post Office for the Town of Bel Air. Since 2012, the Society has been fundraising and working towards restoration and rehabilitation of the building. The Heritage Fund recently funded the removal of a non-historic vestibule to reveal the finely-detailed entrance.

History OF the Old Bel Air Post Office

The Old Bel Air Post Office dates to 1936 and it’s Colonial Revival architecture, including a cupola, stands out as an anchor of the historic downtown core. In 1989, the operations of the Post Office moved to a different building, and in 1994 the Historical Society of Harford County became owners and stewards.

Harford County Post Office, 1979. Photo from Maryland Historical Trust.

The building features intricate woodwork and fine materials such as Cardiff Green Marble and the last pieces of marble quarried from Beaver Dam in Baltimore County. Some of it’s fine details include the cupola and weather vane, 8-foot tall wood windows, leaded glass fan light, and cast stucco Federal Eagle ornament – a symbol from the Post Office. The interior also retains much of it’s original ornamental work along it’s high ceilings.

SCOPE OF RESTORATION WORK

On the 75th anniversary of the Post Office in 2012, the Historical Society started a campaign in support of the restoration and rehabilitation of their building. Essential projects have included roof replacement, repair of exterior stonework, replacing mechanical systems, and reconstruction of the original lighting system. The organization’s expertise in historic research has helped inform many of the restoration decisions for accuracy!

HERITAGE FUND GRANT

The Heritage Fund grant awarded to the Historical Society was used specifically to remove the non-contributing addition of a large metal and glass entrance vestibule. Since 1985, the vesitble obscured original details of the Colonial Revival entranceway including a large doorway with side and fan lights. Overall, removal of the vestibule quickly restored the original appearance of the Post Office and creates a more seamless introduction to the historic building.

Removal on non-historic vestibule, 2017.

MORE ABOUT THE HERITAGE FUND

The Heritage Fund, a cooperative effort of Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust, provides direct assistance for the protection of historical and cultural resources and promotes innovative demonstration projects that can be successfully replicated to meet Maryland’s historic preservation needs. The Fund is intended to serve the needs of tangible cultural resources in Maryland. Historic sites, buildings, districts, objects, and archaeological resources are all eligible for funding.

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Jessica Feldt · Preservation Initiatives Manager

Jessica Feldt manages our proactive preservation and grant-giving programs and is here to help you move your project on the path towards preservation.

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