Old houses in New Windsor Carroll County: Volunteers help homeowners preserve historic structures.

November 18, 1996

ITS NAME MAY suggest grand pretensions, but the Greater New Windsor Committee combines high-minded goals with down to earth, hands-on work for the good of the community. The small group of concerned citizens has been working for a year to preserve and maintain stately but deteriorating old homes in the western Carroll County town of some 800 residents.

With its labor, money and home-improvement expertise, the volunteer committee is trying to encourage owners of these aging structures to keep up their properties.

Some work on a dilapidated house, such as repainting a dingy kitchen or repairing a leaky brick chimney, can restore the interest of an owner to undertake further maintenance tasks.

For new residents attracted to the century-old dwellings, the Greater New Windsor Committee can work on a "fixer-upper" home if the buyer agrees to live there and maintain the property. "Apart from the physical work, which was a lot, they made me feel part of the community," said nurse Jan Wilson, who is moving into a 19th century home on Main Street.

The committee, which hopes to gain non-profit tax status soon, is racing against time. While the inventory of older homes in New Windsor remains stable, the condition of many of them is rapidly deteriorating or facing inappropriate, unaesthetic repairs from landlords hoping to rent them out cheaply.

Getting motivated resident-owners to buy these properties and keep them up is the primary aim of the committee. Preserving these rundown homes is critical to protecting New Windsor's economic health and its traditional quality of life, the committee's charter states.

The town is marking its 200th birthday this year, amid efforts to get the municipality on the National Register of Historic Places. dTC Historic designation would provide tax breaks for owners to make repairs on these old buildings.

But the initial effort slowed, after it was found that a number of potentially targeted structures were not eligible because of major alterations or because they did not fit in the historic development pattern of the community.

That's why the Greater New Windsor Committee volunteers deserve support and encouragement for their efforts to preserve the historic community with some neighborly assistance.

Pub Date: 11/18/96

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