The one-story, dilapidated building behind the Odenton Train Stationfailed as a bank, but a group of residents is hoping it can flourishas a museum.
For two years, the 91 members of the Odenton Heritage Society have been looking for a home and a place to display artifacts. On March 5, after lengthy negotiations with the building's owner,the society agreed to purchase the building, providing it can affordthe necessary renovations.
"It's really exciting," society President Sally Shoemaker said. "Even though the building is small, it can be the site of a number of fund-raising activities for us."
Tomorrow, the society will open bids from architectural firms to study whether the building is structurally sound and how much work will be needed to fix it up.
In addition, since the front door borders on state property, an easement will be needed to provide access to the building.
Once the details are worked out, Shoemaker said, final price negotiations will begin with owner Darlene Fratantuono of Pasadena.
The brick building, whichmeasures 20 by 25 feet, opened in 1917 as Odenton's first bank. It was built to serve soldiers at Fort Meade, then called Camp Meade, whowere training for World War I.
Catherine O'Malley, in her 1978 book, "Odenton, the Town a Railroad Built," writes that community leaders hoped a new business section would form around the Citizens State Bank building. Fate, however, had other plans.
"The bank, however,did not flourish as was anticipated," O'Malley wrote, "and it subsequently failed, paying its customers 70 cents on the dollar on all monies deposited with them."
Shoemaker estimates it could cost up to $80,000 to renovate the building. The society is applying for a low-interest loan through the county's scattered sites program, designed for renewal projects.
"They are very interested in having the building restored," Shoemaker said. "The building is in blight condition. The county likes to help if it is in the historic interest."
The heritage society, which is busy recording an oral history of Odenton, already has numerous items for a small museum, including photographs,pieces of trains and old cans from the cannery that used to makes its home in the community.
The bank building, Shoemaker notes, may be just a start.
"Once we have that, we can go on to better things.Probably as we grow, we will collect other historic properties."