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Funk Farm suggested, battlefield areas eyed for historic register

April 11, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Property owners in the area of the South Mountain battlefields are divided about whether they want their land included on the National Register of Historic Places, Washington County Chief Planner Stephen T. Goodrich said.

The county's Historic District Commission recently agreed to recommend listing the battlefield areas, but the Washington County Commissioners said last month they wanted to hear from the 68 Washington County property owners whose land would be included before deciding whether to support it.

Since then, the county has heard back from 30 of those property owners, with 18 in favor, 11 opposed and one indifferent, Goodrich said Friday.

The commissioners did agree to recommend the Jacob Funk Farm, a 7.6-acre property along Black Rock Road southwest of Hagerstown, for inclusion on the national register. It has been proposed that the farm be listed because of its distinctive 19th-century stone buildings and because it reflects the area's agricultural history, Goodrich said.

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The National Register of Historic Places is a list of properties acknowledged by the federal government as worthy of recognition and preservation for their significance in American history and culture.

Inclusion on the national register carries certain benefits, such as grant eligibility and tax credits for approved rehabilitation projects. It also has the potential to pose limitations, Goodrich said. Projects on listed properties that receive federal or state funding, or that require federal or state permits must be evaluated to see if they negatively affect the property's historical properties, he said.

Listing on the register does not mean the government wants to acquire the property, place restrictions on the property, or dictate the colors or materials used on individual buildings, according to a letter that was sent to the relevant property owners.

The process for submitting a property for addition to the list includes notifying the affected property owners. In addition, public meetings are to be held by the Historic District Commission and the local governing body, Goodrich said. After that, a recommendation may be submitted to the Maryland Historical Trust, which administers the national register program in Maryland.

After initial mailings to the property owners whose land would be included in the South Mountain battlefields application, the county heard from only three of them, with one supporting the application and two requesting that their properties be excluded from it, Goodrich said.

Commissioners Terry Baker, Kristin B. Aleshire and James F. Kercheval said they wanted to hear from the rest of the property owners before supporting an action that could potentially pose limitations for projects on their properties.

Listing the South Mountain Battlefield area was proposed by the nonprofit organization Friends of South Mountain and by the South Mountain Battlefield Park.

The proposal includes the land around Crampton's, Turner's and Fox's gaps. The Battle of South Mountain that occurred there on Sept. 14, 1862, set the stage for the larger Battle of Antietam three days later, according to the application.

The Jacob Funk Farm was owned and farmed by the same family from the 1760s through 1951, according to its application. A house, barn, dairy and springhouse on the property date from the early to mid-19th century, the application says. Those buildings retain integrity from the original construction, but also represent distinct changes over time as they were modified to reflect changes in use and needs of the occupants, Goodrich wrote in a report to the commissioners.

The farm's current owners, Tom and Norma Heaton, proposed its inclusion on the national register, Goodrich said.

The Funk Farm application was recommended for approval by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's consulting committee and forwarded to the federal level, but had not received final approval yet, Goodrich said Friday.

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