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County posthumously honors Hilda Cushwa

May 15, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Commissioners Tuesday presented the 2001 Historic Preservation Award posthumously to Hilda Cushwa.

Cushwa, who died Feb. 1 at age 84, was recognized for her preservation work in Washington County, including the creation of the Clear Spring District Historical Association and the preservation of Plumb Grove.

Cushwa was an employee of the State of Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, retiring in 1982 after 18 years of service.

Accepting the award on her behalf were her sons, William Cushwa of Clear Spring and Richard Cushwa of Williamsport.

"She would never have thought she deserved this but she did. Without her determination, a lot of sites would have been demolished," Richard Cushwa said.

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She would have been pleased by the honor, William Cushwa said.

"I know it is something she would be proud of. I am sure she would have been happy," he said.

Cushwa was nominated for the award by the Washington County Historical Advisory Committee.

"Her influence was phenomenal countywide," committee member Betty Shank said. "It truly was a heartfelt concern for preservation."

Cushwa's work included preserving cemeteries and restoring Wilson Bridge and Feight House at Blair's Valley Lake, Shank said.

She also served as a member of the Washington County Historical Trust.

Shank said Cushwa was a writer, poet, artist and researcher in addition to her other work. She helped local historians with research and books, she said.

Cushwa helped create the association in 1980 and was its first president, serving from 1980 to 1984.

Cushwa was instrumental in preserving the historic Plumb Grove mansion, said David Wiles, president of the association and author of its monthly newsletter titled "Used to be..."

Plumb Grove is a brick home built in 1831 by Jonathan Nesbitt II and his wife, Ann. The Washington County Board of Education deeded Plumb Grove to the association in 1981 after it fell into disrepair.

After it was fixed up and restored, Plumb Grove was turned into a farmhouse museum that continues to be used today.

Wiles, who won the preservation award last year, said Cushwa is a very deserving honoree.

"She was the Clear Spring historical society before there ever was such an organization," Wiles said Monday. "Without her early devotion, it is doubtful we would be the largest historical society in Washington County, as we are today."

The committee also commended the following people for their preservation work: Joan Hull, Brent and Julie Stinar, Ray and Jackie Snouffer, Greg Fuortes and Downsville residents for repairing a pre-Civil War fence.

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