AIA Maryland welcomes Historic Preservation Month and a new Preservation Architecture Intern

By Barton Ross, AIA
Chair, Historic Resources Committee

AIA Maryland continues to be a leader in promoting the essential role that historic preservation plays in maintaining and improving the quality of life for Marylanders. With our state’s long history and vast stock of older buildings, we enjoy a heritage that is evident in a wealth of historic structures that conveys the story of America from before the Revolutionary War through this present era of Covid-19 social distancing.

May is Preservation Month in America, first started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and signed into law by President Nixon in 1973, it has been celebrated every year since. We take this opportunity to celebrate the numerous efforts championed by AIA Maryland members and the Historic Resources Committee in making a difference across our state.

AIA Maryland is currently represented on the Heritage Recovery Task Force, which is working to identify local, state and federal policy actions that could be leveraged to assist with recovery of this critical tourism sector of the economy from the impacts of Covid-19. Maryland’s historic tax credit is a ready-made tool for economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. AIA Maryland recently provided testimony at the General Assembly to ensure that the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit remains funded. Members also testified in support of HB759, which would expand the Small Commercial Tax Credit program to include common elements of historic condominium or co-op buildings, such as lobbies, facades, or roofing. Designed to work in concert with its federal counterpart, these rehabilitation tax credits are a crucial investment tool for green-lighting commercial projects and keeping Marylanders employed.

This May we also welcomed our 2020 Preservation Architecture Intern, Bernard O’Brien. Bernard is currently working on his Masters in Historic Preservation at Clemson University-College of Charleston Graduate Historic Preservation Program. The current stay-at-home parameters will extend to Bernard who will be working remotely to complete his summer project.

The Preservation Architecture Intern will be supervised by Historic Resources Committee Chair, Barton Ross, AIA, with funding provided by AIA Maryland and Preservation Maryland. Bernard will be continuing work on the Queen Anne’s County Court House. It is located on the town square in Centreville, and was originally constructed from 1792-96, during the presidency of George Washington. It has been continually used by the county ever since and is now recognized as the oldest continually used courthouse in the state of Maryland and the sixth oldest in the United States. The Court House remained in its original state until after the Civil War when in 1876, plans were made to rebuild the structure, “on a scale which will change it from one of the most inconvenient to one of the most desirable of our county buildings.” Aside from this reconstruction, which was accomplished for $6,800 under the direction of Baltimore architect James Crawford Neilson, the exterior of the Court House is virtually the same as it was when originally constructed.

Last year, AIA Maryland joined forces with Preservation Maryland to offer special funding to support a preservation architecture internship in the state. This position will provide students the opportunity to experience historic preservation first-hand and support the diverse and complex work of saving our older buildings. Interns will be engaged in a wide variety of projects, including field work (documentation, measuring, photography, etc.) as well as producing 2D/3D drawings for significant historic sites. The hope is that this internship could become an annual award co-sponsored by the organizations to raise awareness for some of Maryland’s architectural gems which are in desperate need of better documentation.

Join us!

The committee welcomes members in all corners of the state to help advance the benefits of historic preservation by joining the Historic Resources Committee. Please contact Sandi Worthman if you are interested in helping out. Thank you and stay well.