Preservation Maryland Purchases Building in Historically African American Neighborhood of Hagerstown

06/26/2020
By Preservation Maryland

At a socially distant closing held on Wednesday, June 24, Preservation Maryland Executive Director signed on the dotted line – formally acquiring 417 N. Jonathan Street in Hagerstown as a part of the organization’s re-launched historic property redevelopment program.

Nicholas Redding at the socially-distanced closing, June 2020.

The closing was the culmination of months of due-diligence, research and preparation for the complex acquisition – a first for the organization in nearly 40 years. The ca. 1810-1830 property will be rehabilitated and sold to a deserving buyer as a part of a broader community-driven effort to revitalize the historic African-American neighborhood. Preservation Maryland established a special LLC to oversee and legally own this project, in keeping with best practices for organization’s conducting this type of work.

The project has been made possible by a diverse array of funders from across the region and nation – including numerous individuals, the State of Maryland, the Middendorf Foundation, The 1772 Foundation, the Rural Maryland Council, and many corporate partners and sponsors.

Research about the history of the building is ongoing and plans are being laid for a forthcoming report on previous owners of the structure and its role in the development of the African-American neighborhood and a potential archaeological investigation as components of the broader project.

During the lead-up to acquisition, several firms supported initial investigations with pro-bono support, including SGH Engineering, Worcester-Eisenbrandt, Inc., and Ziger-Snead Architects. Additionally, local Hagerstown community activists and preservationists Reggie Turner and Tereance Moore played a pivotal role in the project and introduced Preservation Maryland to this unique opportunity. Both Mr. Turner and Moore remain active and engaged partners in the project and have launched the Western Maryland Community Development Corporation, which is focused on catalytic revitalization in the community and surrounding region.

The next step for the project is to begin the design, permitting, and contracting phase – with a goal of breaking ground on the rehabilitation by year-end.

A first of many projects for the new program

417 N. Jonathan Street, Hagerstown, Maryland

417 N. Jonathan Street, Hagerstown, Maryland

The rehabilitation project on Jonathan Street is expected to be the first of many property redevelopment projects for Preservation Maryland’s new program. The goal is to use small amounts of funding and investments to make out-sized, catalytic impacts, especially on historic resources associated with underrepresented communities. Preservation Maryland Executive Director Nicholas Redding explained,

We are in a unique position to really make big impacts and not just talk about why this work matters. Jonathan Street is the first of many projects we hope to support – and we have a host of financial and real estate tools at our disposal to support communities around the state. This comes at a critical moment – when the state needs us most and we’re eager to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

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When you make a gift today in support of this project, your gift will be “recycled” through the innovative nature of a preservation revolving fund where dollars are reused over and over again on subsequent projects. Programs like this saved Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC and today, we’re using these same techniques to save the history of Maryland’s most unique and underrepresented communities.

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Preservation Maryland is Maryland’s first and largest organization dedicated to preserving the state’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and archaeological sites.

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