Mid­dle­ton joins fight for his­toric Grinder House

State still plans to de­mol­ish brick farm­house

Maryland Independent - - News - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

The Grinder House in Small­wood State Park is one of the only brick farm­house build­ings left in the en­tire coun­try built dur­ing the Civil War era. De­spite that, the Mary- land Department of Nat- ural Re­sources wants to tear it down be­cause of fire dam­age the struc­ture sus­tained from a stove fire in 2014.

But that will not hap­pen if the Charles County His­toric Preser­va­tion Com- mis­sion has any­thing to say about it. And they’re call­ing upon state leg­isla- tors for help to pre­vent it.

Mike Flem­ing, a fire­fighter and the chair­man of the Charles County His­toric Preser­va­tion Com­mis­sion, said de­spite the fire dam­age done to the build­ing, the struc- ture is still in­tact and the build­ing can still be fixed up and pre­served.

Flem­ing said the DNR has a pri­or­ity of “pre­serv- ing land and not his­tor­i­cal build­ings,” but this build­ing still has some­thing left to give. The fire dam­age done to the build­ing is not cat­a­strophic, he said, and if the county can pre­vent wa­ter from seep­ing in­side it, it can still be of use.

And there are still many par­ties who want to keep the build­ing in­tact, he said, in­clud­ing Maryland State Sen. Thomas “Mac” Mid­dle­ton (D-Charles). So there will be a meet­ing in the next week to de­ter­mine what can be done to keep the build­ing go­ing, and Mid­dle­ton will be in at­ten­dance.

“Mr. Flem­ing is a fire­fighter and I trust his assess­ment of the dam­age,” Mid­dle­ton said. “I hope to be there next week and maybe we can fig­ure out how to stop this and find money to pre­serve it.”

The department said the build­ing is not worth more than $15,000 in its cur­rent state, but Flem- ing said he has seen build­ings in worse shape ap­praised for more than that with­out any his­tor­i­cal con­text.

The house was built by John Grinder, who was part of a fam­ily of stone ma­sons. The set­ting that the home is in is ac­cu­rate to what it would have looked like when Grinder first built it in the 1800s, Flem­ing said.

Mid­dle­ton said the ex­te­rior of the house is in “great shape” with sheet rock pro­tect­ing the wood work of the home. There is re­ally no rea­son to de­mol­ish it at this point, he said.

“Once you de­stroy these things, they’re gone for­ever,” he said. “It po­ten­tially could have a very use­ful ser­vice if it was pre­served. I’m will­ing to see if it is sal­vage­able.”

Mid­dle­ton said he has re­ceived as­sur­ance from DNR that it will also have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the next meet­ing to try to find a bet­ter fu­ture for the house. Flem­ing said the department does not have any de­mo­li­tion dates planned un­til Jan­uary, so there is time in be­tween to fig­ure things out. They just have to come to­gether and get things done, he said.

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