Savage inches toward historic district status Howard officials to meet residents NORTH LAUREL/SAVAGE

October 01, 1993|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Staff Writer

The long-awaited establishment of a local historic district in Savage may be moving a step closer.

Members of the county Planning and Zoning Department and the County Council plan to meet with homeowners later this month on the proposal for a historic district. No date has been set for the meeting.

"This is really the first formal move," said County Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, a Columbia resident who once lived in Savage. "It's taken a back burner to some other issues."

The proposed historic district would include about 54 lots from Savage Mill to Baltimore Street and from Carroll Baldwin Hall to Fair Street.

The brick homes there were built in the early to mid-1800s as residences for workers at the mill.

For several years, Mary Ann Gardes, who lives in one of the homes, has led the effort to have a portion of Savage designated as a county historic district.

Ms. Gardes, a member of the county's Historic District Commission, has collected 29 signatures on a petition to designate the area as a historic site.

Approval for a historic district must come from the county Zoning Board, because the change is considered an amendment to the official zoning map.

Zoning Board members have said they would approve a proposal for a historic district if it is supported by a majority of homeowners.

This month's meeting would be the first formal discussions of the idea with the community, and there is no deadline for action.

Ms. Gardes has collected signatures from the owners of more than half of the homes in the proposed district.

Preservationists view a historic designation as yet another way of making sure that the remaining flavor of the old company town remains.

In 1974, the old Savage Mill and millworkers' homes were placed on the National Register of Historic Places, but registration doesn't regulate future development in the area.

If the county designates the community as a historic site, developers would not be able to tear down the old buildings as part of improvement projects.

The designation also would prevent homeowners from making changes to the outside of their homes without approval from the seven-member county Historic District Commission.

The county would not have a say in what homeowners did to the inside of their houses.

"It's really to keep the village intact," Ms. Gardes said.

The centerpiece of the community is Savage Mill, which provided jobs for as many as 400 workers during World War II.

The mill then produced 400,000 pounds of cloth a month.

Now the old mill has been converted into a thriving antiques and crafts center.

Streets near the mill remain lined with red brick duplexes. Picket fences still border some of those yards, and U.S. and Maryland flags hang outside on the front door posts.

But some homes have been modernized, with aluminum siding covering their brick exteriors -- an unwelcome change, in the view of preservationists.

"That's the kind of thing we're trying to avoid," Ms. Gardes said. "The idea is to keep the flavor of what is historic."

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