Arson destroys building, tools at historic Union Mills

October 26, 1990|By Carroll County Bureau of The Sun

UNION MILLS -- The 200-year-old timbers were still standing yesterday morning, but arson had destroyed a tannery drying shed and the historic tools and farming implements it housed at the historic Union Mills Homestead.

Some time before 1:40 a.m., vandals set fires in the 40- by 60-foot wooden outbuilding, valued at $40,000, and in a front-end loader parked nearby, causing about $2,000 damage, said Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Robert B. Thomas.

An inventory was under way of the contents, which were not insured, said Esther L. Shriver, executive director of the Union Mills Homestead Foundation Inc.

Gesturing toward the charred skeleton, she said a new roof and screens had just been put on the tannery shed, which is similar to a tobacco-drying barn. It was to house vendors during a Civil War re-enactment being planned for June on the anniversary of Jeb Stuart's passage through Carroll County, which delayed his arrival at Gettysburg.

Four other original buildings remain: the still-operating Shriver grist mill, the 1797 homestead, the miller's house, and an outbuilding now used as a blacksmith and carpenter shop.

At 4:55 a.m., volunteer firefighters of the Pleasant Valley company were returning from Union Mills to their station when they discovered four large bales of hay blazing in a field at Hughes Shop and Stone roads, Mr. Thomas said. A volunteer firefighter was treated for a minor injury there when a hose coupling struck him in the face.

"It looks like vandalism," Mr. Thomas said.

A reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest. Those with information are asked to call (800) 492-7529.

"The real shame here is the historic value of that property," Mr. Thomas said. "You just don't replace a 200-year-old building and artifacts. There just was no respect for history."

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