Tome Gas House restoration project to finish in January
jbellmyer@ cecilwhig. com
— The parts of the Tome Gas House that could be salvaged are being used to bring the historic structure back to life, with the restoration project scheduled to be completed in January.
Tom Forsman said he and Steve Badham, from Bathon Builders in Elkton, gathered enough of the aging timber from the old trusses holding up the slate roof to make new corbels and spires.
“We refinished 19 and made eight new ones,” he said of the corbels, which will go under the soffit. “We were able to save one spire and we replicated the rest. We are staying true to the original.”
Amish carpenters built the massive birch trusses supporting the new slate roof.
“The ( Maryland Historic Trust) had hoped we could save more of the roof, but it was so rotted,” said Vicky Rinkerman, town administrator.
Rinkerman said the trust, along with town officials, is ecstatic with the progress in the $ 1.3 million grant- funded project
Tom Forsman with Bathon Builders explains how he and Steve Padham had to replicate the existing corbels on the Tome Gas House to have enough to go around the soffit of the historic structure in Port Deposit.
to turn the 166- year- old former utility building into a visitor’s center and research hub.
When completed, the project will bring back to life an iconic structure that tycoon philanthropist Jacob Tome had built to house the gas works that heated his own mansion home as well as the Jacob Tome Institute and provided street lights in Port Deposit, Rinkerman said.
“The bottom floor will be the visitor’s center with Bainbridge Naval Training
Center museum displays,” Rinkerman said Tuesday.
A spiral staircase and a chairlift will make the top floor accessible and allow Towson University to operate its research center for the northern map turtles. Maryland’s only population of the endangered reptile calls Port Deposit home.
While the original slate roof had to be replaced, the granite has been repointed and when the project is completed in January, the Tome Gas House will look exactly as it did in 1850.
“The Maryland Historic Trust was here last month and they are very pleased and happy with the repointing,” Rinkerman said.
( Repointing is what is done to stabilize stone or brick. Crumbling mortar or cement is removed and new material added often without taking the wall itself completely apart.)
The trust, along with the Maryland State Highway Administration, Video Lottery Terminal fund, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Port Deposit Chamber of Com- merce made grant monies available for the restoration.
“When you look at Port Deposit and what’s been lost, including the ( Tome) school and the mansion, it’s a win- win for the town to have this last historic building on the waterfront,” Rinkerman said.
Vicky Rinkerman, Port Deposit town administrator, details the layout of the first floor of the Tome Gas House, which is now being renovated.