Historic Birdhouse Back Home At Linthicum Family Mansion


December 17, 1991|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

It's the Grand Hotel of birdhouses, a steepled, 6-foot palace where purple martins can preen their feathers in style.

Nineteen years ago a gust of wind blew the steeple off, and six years ago a falling branch knocked the whole birdhouse to the ground.

Now this one-of-a-kind structure has been restored to its former glory and returned to its home at historic Turkey Hill, the Linthicum family mansion.

FOR THE RECORD - A story in Tuesday's Anne Arundel County Sun about the restoration of a historic birdhouse in Linthicum contained two errors.
The birdhouse was restored by woodworker Phil Orzechowski. It was hoisted to the top of its new pole by Larry Nowell. The Ann Arrundell County Historical Society arranged for the equipment to install the birdhouse.

The birdhouse, a 220-pound replica of the old Camden railroad station in Baltimore, was set atop a 12-foot telephone pole in the front yard of the mansion Dec. 6.

"They had to use a boom crane to pick it up," said Beth Nowell, executive director of the of Ann Arrundell County Society.

The historical society took charge of restoring thebirdhouse, built in the early 19th century, after the late Dr. C. Milton Linthicum and his wife, Verena, decided it had languished in disrepair long enough. Like Turkey Hill and its four outbuildings, the birdhouse has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.

Linthicum, who died at 68 Nov. 23 after a brief bout with cancer, had a strong sense of family history and felt an obligation to share that history with the public, his wife said.

It was his wish, she said, that the birdhouse be replaced before the first "Linthicum by Candlelight" house tour Dec. 8.

There are no documents to prove who built the birdhouse, a white, wooden, tiered structure with 64 little windows, elaborate molding, cornices, columns and an octagonal clock tower.

However, local historians and the Linthicum family believe it was crafted by William Linthicum, who built Turkey Hill.

Great-grandfather of C. Milton Linthicum, William Linthicum moved from Crofton to northern Anne Arundel in 1801. A farmer with extensive holdings, he died in 1866.

No one seems to know if William Linthicum had any special woodworking talent -- which the builder of the birdhouse certainly had -- or what connection he might have had with Camden Station.

"That was considered a very beautiful buildingat the time," said Sweetser Linthicum, great-grandson of William Linthicum and cousin of C. Milton Linthicum.

"I guess he just thoughtit was a good-looking architectural piece."

A similar but more modest birdhouse at Twin Oaks, another Linthicum family home, was destroyed by vandals about two years ago, Verena Linthicum said. No one iscertain if William Linthicum built that birdhouse, either.

The Camden station birdhouse, which broke into pieces when it fell, was restored by Nowell's husband, Larry, and woodworker Phil Orzechowski, both of Linthicum.

Though they made some new pieces to replace what had been lost, 95 percent of the birdhouse is original, Nowell said.

Sweetser Linthicum gives Paul Wildman, another Linthicum relative,credit for that.

"He's the one who collected all the pieces after it fell," he said. "If it wasn't for him saving all that, I don't know whether it could have been constructed again."

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