This year, Historic St. Mary’s City received funding from the Maryland Commission for African American History and Culture to convert the still standing duplex slave and tenant quarter into a interpretive exhibit. The quarter has been modified, preserved, and moved a number of times since it was initially built in the 1840s, but this will be the first time significant work has been done to preserve its exterior since the 1970s.
Since it was moved in 1992, the building has stood dormant behind the Brome-Howard Inn, and used primarily for storage. Prior to that, an extensive effort was made in the 1970s to restore it to its slave-era condition. The years of neglect have left portions of the structure in rough shape, and starting in the spring a number of issues on the building’s exterior must be addressed.
Of particular importance is roof, which is made of wood shingles. Currently, there are shingles missing, slopes and depressions in the roof, and cracked and damaged shingles. Once winter is over, the roof will be removed, the interior assessed for any additional damage, and a new roof will be put back on. To last the winter, a brown tarp was placed over the roof in order to ensure that no additional water seeps into the structure. The tarp placement was timely, as we were able to add it before Hurricane Sandy came through the area.
Additional projects will include the residing of the entire building, and any additional problems that surface while we removed the sides. One addition must be made to the back of the structure in order to make the building ADA accessible, and we are in the process of developing these plans. While the addition will not be accurate to the slave period of occupation, it will be representative of the addition that the 20th century family added to the structure to accommodate their larger family. What was then used as an extra bedroom will serve as a ramp access for the disabled.
The saving grace of the building is the chimney, which was reconstructed in 1994 for when the building was moved. Fortunately, we will not have to do any work on restoring it, since it is in wonderful condition. This will save a great deal of time and money that can be put towards the rest of the project. As the project begins, we will provide additional documentation here on the blog and Twitter, so stay tuned! Are you interested in lending a hand or helping out with the restoration? Please contact us and we’ll get you in touch with Peter Rivers, who will be directing the restoration project.