Savage residents awaiting repairs at the Carroll Baldwin Memorial Hall soon should hear hammers ringing and saw blades whirring.
Bids on the long-awaited renovation project go out within two weeks for a contractor to replace the leaky slate roof that sits atop the 71-year-old community center.
"It's very exciting," said Cathy Whitehead, president of the Carroll Baldwin Memorial Institute, which oversees the hall. "We would love for it to start and finish as soon as possible."
Built with stones dredged from the Little Patuxent River, the hall was a gift to the Savage community from Sallie Baldwin and the local mill owner, Leslie Evans and Co. Ms. Baldwin built the hall in memory of her brother, Carroll, mill president from 1905 to 1918.
But the leaky roof has caused the ceiling to crack and chip. The wood around the window frames is rotting. And the electrical system can't handle many appliances.
"There have been times you go in there and you plug in a coffee pot and a microphone and you run the risk of blowing out a light," said Del. Martin G. Madden, a District 13B Republican who helped fight for funds to refurbish the building.
Despite that, he said, "it's a real jewel as far as historical value."
For six years, residents such as Dennis Thornton have patched and repaired the deteriorating roof and other parts of the building. Several times, volunteer Dick Bourgin used mountain climbing equipment to climb the roof and patch leaking areas.
But the cost to complete the repairs was prohibitive. A new slate roof alone would cost $50,000 or more.
So, in April 1993, the General Assembly approved a $70,000 grant to complete major repairs. The grant also included a provision that the building be made accessible to the disabled.
The county agreed to contribute $67,000 toward the project, and the Savage community raised $3,000.
All of the money is available and ready to award to contractors, the county budget office says.
Ms. Whitehead said members of the Carroll Baldwin Hall Memorial Institute will look for an architect to help maintain the historical design of the building. The repairs will focus first on replacing the roof and then on making the building accessible for the disabled.
Depending on the funds available, the institute's members will decide which of the other repairs will be made, Ms. Whitehead.
Savage residents said they have longed for an end to the leaky roof and electrical problems so that they would have a comfortable place to hold meetings and events.
"It hasn't been an impediment to meetings," said Bill Waff, president of the Savage Community Association, which holds its monthly meetings at the hall. "It's just annoying."