2-alarm fire damages the Elkridge Club Several pieces of antique furniture, artwork damaged

February 05, 1993|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Staff Writer

A two-alarm fire at the Elkridge Club in the 6100 block of N. Charles St. last night caused extensive damage to the upper floors of the main building and slightly damaged several pieces of antique furniture and paintings, many of which date to the early 1800s.

The main building, which is at least 130 years old, sits on several hundred acres and is surrounded by a golf course, tennis courts, evergreen trees and out-buildings, was the home of Augustus W. Bradford, governor of Maryland during the Civil War.

The grounds straddle the line between Baltimore County and the city at North Charles Street and Lake Avenue.

The building was nearly destroyed July 11, 1864, during the Civil War when Confederate troops set it afire in retaliation for federal troops burning the home of Virginia's governor.

In 1878, the estate became the Elkridge Club.

Battalion Chief Michael Whittaker said a caretaker reported the fire at 10:07 p.m. It was brought under control at 11:25 p.m. No injuries were reported.

Chief Whittaker said the fire apparently started in an open area between the first and second floors in a front room on the east side of the frame, aluminum-sided building.

It quickly spread to the the second floor and eventually went through the roof of the three-story building.

Damaged were dining rooms, offices and other rooms used for social and athletic functions.

Much of the damage was caused by water cascading down stairways and into rooms.

Chief Whittaker described the open areas as "balloon construction," a common building style among homes built more than 100 years ago in Baltimore county.

"That type of construction," said Chief Whittaker," allows fire to spread very quickly because there are no fire walls to isolate the flames."

He said the building's sprinkler system was activated, preventing flames from spreading throughout the building.

While the first of nearly 100 firefighters attacked the fire, other crews covered the antique furniture with tarps and removed valuable paintings from dining rooms, offices and hallways. Firefighters from 10 stations manning nearly 20 pieces of apparatus fought the blaze.

"Most people think firefighters just pour water on fires and knock down walls," said Chief Whittaker.

He said every effort was made to save the furniture and paintings from the effects of the flames, water and smoke.

Firefighters from stations at Towson, Brooklandville, Hillendale, Providence, Pikesville and Texas responded, as well as units from Lutherville, Cockeysville, Fullerton and Jacksonville.

An estimate of the damage was not immediately available. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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