By Adam Ross, County Times
Note: This story, as well as other community news stories from St. Mary's County, will appear in the Nov. 16 edition of The County Times that will appear on local newsstands this Thursday.
The historic 250-year-old Tudor Hall overlooking Breton Bay in Leonardtown is deteriorating from an expired roof and a worn brick exterior overlay.
The cedar shake shingles are on the 26th year of a 25-year guarantee, and if not replaced within five years, the roof will face dangerous structural damage, according to a report from Preservation Consultant Thomas G. McDowell.
It is one of the many issues President of the Historical Society Board of Directors Richard Gass is working to sort out. But as the problems pile up so do the budget requests.
The Historical Society introduced a legislative proposal to the St. Mary's Board of County Commissioners for a bond bill of $150,000 to address the needed repairs, which will be matched dollar-for-dollar by local contributions. The historical society to date has received between $50,000 and $60,000 according to Gass.
Gass was scheduled to present the proposal Tuesday to the BOCC, the three St. Mary's Delegates and our state Senator.
The presentation, in its current form a 21-page architectural assessment, must be four minutes or less according to the rules in place during Tuesday's session.
"When I get to Annapolis with the appropriations committee I only get three minutes," Gass said with a laugh.
Tudor Hall's brick overlay is deteriorating because of aggressive sand blasting used many years ago to remove white paint from its surface. Without the installation of pure lime putty onto the brick, moisture will continue to collect and eventually damage the wooden interior walls.
"We are not at the point of having the building condemned," Gass said, "but it's prudent at this time to make the repairs."
The $300,000 will also go towards removing the upstairs bathrooms and shelving from the 1950s renovations.
At that time, Margaret P. Davidson restored the hall as a library dedicated to the memory of the soldiers of St. Mary's County who died in both World Wars.
Besides fixing the structural damage, the historical society planned to transform Tudor Hall back into its original form as a historical mansion.
This will be the third grant sought by the Historical Society. The most recent was in 2000 for $65,000 to repair walkways and install an air conditioning system.
Repairs to deteriorated wood, a new drainage system and restoring the hardwood floors are also included in the legislative packet.
Tudor Hall has grown and changed with each century. The house is all that remains of a 1649 plantation, which sprawled over a thousand acres.
Tudor Hall today contains a research room with a vast array of materials related to the history of St. Mary's County. It also serves as a repository for family materials donated by Charles Fenwick, Edwin Beitzell, the Coad family, the Dent family and others.