A Piece Of County History Goes On The Block In Sykesville The Winning Bidder To Restore Bloomfield

September 19, 1990|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF


Historic house on 2.35 acres of land with beautiful view and street frontage; handyman special with great potential.

Indeed, Bloomfield Manor offers many possibilities to the person who bids enough to buy it from the town of Sykesville.

The property, recorded and turned over to the town by the county Sept. 5, now officially is for sale, said James Schumacher, Sykesville town manager.

"We have prepared proposal contracts for interested bidders," Schumacher said. "We'll be asking people to bid on the purchase of the property, 2.35 acres of land with an existing structure, and the Town Council will pick the highest bidder."

Interested bidders may inspect the property during an open house scheduled 10 a.m. to noon Friday and Saturday, or by appointment.

Schumacher has set a deadline of noon Oct. 8 for bids. The money from the sale of the property will go into the town's general budget.

The property was donated to Sykesville last year by developer Lowell R. Glazer, whose company is building 260 new homes on the Hawk Ridge Farm land.

Surrounded by trees, Bloomfield Manor sits like an island in the middle of the field that once was Hawk Ridge Farm on Obrecht Road.

A narrow dirt driveway leads to the house, enclosed by a chain-link fence.

Inside, the floor is littered with trash of all kinds, holes pockmark walls and doors, windows are broken and fixtures missing, all evidence of vandalism over the two years Bloomfield has been vacant.

"We're going to mow the grass and take down the fence and try to clean it up inside some, so when people come to see it they'll be able to appreciate it a little more," Schumacher said.

But a Berrett woman already has taken note of the once-splendid old farmhouse that was the scene of elegant parties in the late 1800s.

"To me, it's one of the seven wonders of Carroll County," said Rachael L. Riffee. "I can't believe the viciousness of the vandalism -- it's like raping the place."

Riffee, 20, is Bloomfield's self-appointed guardian, at least until the town sells it and a new owner takes over.

The artist-photographer accidentally discovered the historic old mansion last February while riding through the area.

Curious, she decided to take a closer look at the L-shaped farmhouse and came away appalled at the vandalism, but fascinated by the building.

"The house has Greek-revival influence on the interior fireplaces and door jambs, but it's got very unique styling otherwise," Riffee said.

"In all the books I've looked in, I've never seen anything like it --it defies style-naming."

Hoping to find out more about the house's history, Riffee contacted Schumacher and Thelma Wimmer, vice chairman of the Sykesville Historic Commission.

Unfortunately, Carroll County records go back only to 1868, and the house is obviously much olderthan that, Riffee said.

Schumacher agreed that getting information on the house has been difficult.

Based on its own inspections, the town thinks two additions were put on the initial structure, but they have no dates for any of the building.

In an effort to document Bloomfield's story, the artist has visited the house on numerous occasions to measure, sketch, photograph and note various architectural characteristics throughout it.

"My theory is that it started as a log farmhouse and was expanded later," Riffee said. "There wasprobably a farmhouse sitting on that property as early as the late 1700s."

She pointed out some interesting statistics about Bloomfield. The house has: * 38 windows.

* 34 doors (eight to the outside).

* Three fireplaces.

* Three staircases between floors.

* Three sets of level-connecting stairs.

* Three main porches.

* Ceilings varying from 7 feet, 5 inches to 11 feet, 5 inches.

A student at the Maryland Institute of Art, Riffee would like to make Bloomfield a photographic project for her junior year independent seminar class.

"I want to follow Bloomfield through its restoration for my senior thesis," she explained. "I'll use my current photos of it in its dismal state, then go through the restoration, hopefully starting in my senior year."

Whoever buys Bloomfield will have no choice but to restore the house, Schumacher said.

The town acquired a historic easement on the property from the Maryland Historic Trust.

"The property will have to be restored and maintained according to the historical standards as set forth by the Maryland Historic Trust," he said.

"And whoever buys it would be entitled to the state tax credit for restoration of a historical building."

Schumacher said he wants the new owner to meet Riffee and hopes the two can work together on her project.

He added that the town would be willing to help her apply for a possible grant from the Maryland Historic Trust to help with the costs of her work if she wanted it.

Though not much of the property's history is known, information gathered by Wimmer tells of elegant parties given by one Capt. Trusten Polk and his wife, Louisa Capron Dorsey, who owned Bloomfield from 1870 to 1893.

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