Elk Creek Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety be­gins ef­forts to re­store his­toric Bee­hive

Cecil Whig - - & - By JANE BELLMYER

FAIR HILL

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— Fol­low­ing the pur­chase of the Bee­hive, the Elk Creek Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety is pre­par­ing a full slate of events to raise money to fix up the his­toric com­plex.

The so­ci­ety pur­chased the Bee­hive in April from the es­tate of the late Richard “Tucker” Mackie, said Lee Hutton, pres­i­dent of the so­ci­ety’s board.

“We spent all our money buy­ing it,” he said of the 2.2-acre tract tucked along Route 273 near Rock Pres­by­te­rian Church. “We’ve got to start rais­ing money to fix it.”

Along with its an­nual Ap­ple But­ter Fes­ti­val — to be held Oct. 8 at the Bee­hive — the board of the non-profit group is also host­ing a 5K race and an open house in Septem­ber.

In the eyes of the so­ci­ety, the Bee­hive is per­haps the first in­dus­trial com­plex in Ce­cil County, dat­ing back to the 1700s.

“There was a cooper shop, a tav­ern; each one of those build­ings was a shop so they called it the Bee­hive,” said Ge­orge Reynolds, a found­ing mem­ber of the so­ci­ety. Point­ing to one build­ing in ru­ins, Reynolds said research in­di­cates it was re­ferred to as “The Ar­mory.”

“We’re try­ing to find out what it was,” Reynolds said. “They may have stored gun­pow­der there.”

Ac­cord­ing to Reynolds, the Elk Creek Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety was founded in 1976 when it was dis­cov­ered that peo­ple were pur­chas­ing his­toric prop­er­ties to mine the slate roof, bricks, field stone and other ma­te­ri­als for projects else­where. A large por­tion of the Bee­hive was dis­as­sem­bled for a man­sion house con­structed nearby. The so­ci­ety se­cured the Bee­hive and var­i­ous other sites in­clud­ing a spring house, a smoke­house, a one-room school­house and the Fair Hill Inn.

“The state was go­ing to tear it down and make it a park­ing lot,” Reynolds said. It was the so­ci­ety that led the charge to save the prop­erty, which hosted such his­toric no­ta­bles as Gen­eral Lafayette. The so­ci­ety added lan­guage to the deed of the prop­erty, re­quir­ing any fu­ture own­ers to leave its his­toric ex­te­rior in tact.

Hutton said the board hopes to raise enough money on its own to start the process of sta­bi­liz­ing the tav­ern. When the cen­ter of what had been a col­lec­tion of shops side by side was torn away it left the western wall of the tav­ern with­out real sup­port.

“We need to put a foun­da­tion un­der it and com­pletely re­build the west wall,” Hutton said. “The tav­ern, of all of them, is in the best shape.”

Hutton said the cooper’s house at the op­po­site end can’t be sta­bi­lized un­til power lines are moved. The so­ci­ety has asked Del­marva Power to put the lines un­der­ground or raise them 10 feet, he added, be­cause oth­er­wise, putting the roof on the an­cient struc­ture puts peo­ple at risk of con­tact with a 33,000 volt power line.

“This may be the only re­main­ing his­toric cooper shop in the state of Mary­land,” Reynolds said.

There are 45 mem­bers in the group, but both Hutton and Reynolds said more are needed. Any­one in­ter­ested in join­ing Elk Creek Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety or vol­un­teer­ing with the group can send an email to Aimee Martin at ecpssec­re­tary@gmail.com.

For the Ap­ple But­ter Fes­ti­val many hands are needed, Hutton said.

“We’ll need help peel­ing the ap­ples and of course on the day of the fes­ti­val,” he said.

Martin is also look­ing for crafters of vin­tage or his­toric-style items to be ven­dors for the fes­ti­val.

Mean­while, reg­is­tra­tion is open now for “Run For The Ru­ins.” The run be­gins at 8 a.m. on Sept. 17 at the Bee­hive. Reg­is­tra­tion is $25 in ad­vance or $30 the day of the race. Fol­low­ing the race, the Open House will give the pub­lic a look at the restora­tion so far and what is planned.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Ge­orge Reynolds points to the ex­te­rior wall of the tav­ern at the Bee­hive, ex­plain­ing how it used to be an in­te­rior wall un­til the ad­join­ing build­ing was ripped away.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

A date carved into the hearth above the fire­place in the tav­ern at The Bee­hive in­di­cates how long the site has been in Ce­cil County.

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