The journey of the cabin that now sits at 417 N. Jonathan Street in Hagerstown, Maryland began nearly 300 years ago. In its lifetime it has seen the birth and expansion of a nation, a people’s fight for freedom and the end of slavery, two World Wars, trailblazing movements for equal rights, and the rapid growth of the region surrounding it, all the while serving as a home to families and individuals with their own unique lives and stories to tell, likely including that of the town’s namesake, Jonathan Hager.
Today, despite prior threat of disrepair and imminent demolition, with the help of Preservation Maryland’s Historic Property Redevelopment Program, community partners, and the generosity of numerous donors, the humble dwelling in the heart of the historic Jonathan Street neighborhood continues to serve that same purpose, as a new home to first-time homebuyers.
417 N. Jonathan Street – BEFORE (2019)
Committed to the project’s mission of utilizing preservation to provide owner-occupied affordable housing, Preservation Maryland connected with local homebuyer assistance and education organizations to reach individuals searching for a home within a modest budget. Preservation Maryland prepared an Owner’s Packet with details of the house’s history as well as resources for and information on maintenance of historic homes and treatment of log cabins.
With all the parts in place and through a continued team effort, Preservation Maryland sold the property to new owners. The organization will continue to stay in touch with the new owners to field questions regarding the care and maintenance of the nearly 300-year-old structure.
And so, as home to a local couple new to homeownership and now building equity through this irreplaceable resource, the journey of 417 N Jonathan Street continues …
The Hagerstown Historic District Commission recognized Preservation Maryland with a 2022 Preservation Award for “saving, researching, documenting, and restoring the historic Jonathan Street log cabin.”
In the world of historic preservation, the practice of asset mapping makes a regular appearance. Asset mapping is a process through which information and input is gathered regarding a location’s current and potential assets – be it people, neighborhood features, structures, organizations, or even customs – to examine how they may be harnessed for the benefit of those building their lives there.
When most people think of preservation, the tangible comes to mind: saving a storied 19th-century structure or a physical space that radiates historic charm. Here at Preservation Maryland our work is as much about the intangible as we work to protect all of Maryland’s rich heritage – meaning physical pieces of our history, like buildings, as well as those parts of history you can’t touch, like historical knowledge or personal experiences. Preservation is a tool for a more equitable future and, although not overt, preserving the intangible aspects of communities is dependent on updating infrastructure that allows those spaces to remain vibrant and livable.