Governor urges state aid to restore historic house

April 06, 1995|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

The governor would like the state to pay half the cost of restoring London Town Publik House, but keepers of the historic Edgewater property fear that legislative haggling might prevent the $220,000 from reaching them this year.

"The house and its grounds are badly in need of renovation," Gov. Parris N. Glendening said in a recent letter to The Sun. The London Town Foundation Inc., a private management company that oversees the home, deserves the state money, he wrote.

Foundation director Ellen K. Rothman said Mr. Glendening's support may do little to preserve the 230-year-old building and its surrounding 10 acres.

"We were very pleased about the governor's recommendation, but it

doesn't really do any good now," Ms. Rothman said.

The building is falling into disrepair, Ms. Rothman said. The foundations are rotting because water is seeping into the basement, bricks are falling out of the chimney, and more repairs are needed to the gardens, tobacco barn and land along the South River, she added.

Last month, the House Appropriations Committee voted to spend $275,000 on the $550,000 project, but several days later the Senate Committee on Budget and Taxation voted against any money for the renovations. Now a House-Senate conference committee is considering the request.

"We have no idea why the Senate didn't want to fund this project," Ms. Rothman said.

County officials promised to match the project when it was first proposed.

County Executive John G. Gary had asked the County Council to approve $100,000 in the next capital budget for the project. Last year $160,000 was set aside, according to county officials.

The owners of the Publik House never requested state money to maintain the property before this year, Ms. Rothman said. The county gave the foundation oversight of the property last year after supervising it since 1820.

The county last restored the property in the 1970s with federal and county grants.

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