Unwelcome guests at Carroll museum

Termites: The renovated Gatehouse Museum will receive money to exterminate the critters.

October 03, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The Gatehouse Museum in Sykesville begins its third year with a freshly painted exterior, restored rooms and laden with gifts and volunteers. But, the century-old building needs assistance from town coffers to rid it of unwelcome guests.

James N. Purman, archivist and curator, reported all the good news to the Town Council recently. The museum, once the gateway to the state-owned Springfield Hospital Center and now on long-term lease to Sykesville, has welcomed more than 1,200 visitors since September 1998.

But Purman has discovered that termites have taken up residence.

Purman asked for an exterminator to destroy the termites before the insects destroy all the work of the last three years.

"The termite infestation is really bad," said Purman. "I could soon have a paint job with nothing behind it."

Contractors recently finished painting the exterior stone and siding on the two-story building on Cooper Drive and volunteers have also restored the museum's interior.

The town has budgeted about $1,000 to rid the Gatehouse of its termite infestation. Exterminators were expected to complete a structural analysis soon.

In the meantime, the Gatehouse will remain open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays. Admission is free.

"People are always stopping by, looking for information about Sykesville and about people who once lived here," said Purman.

He refers them to a 1913 telephone book, but it is usually of little help in locating long-lost families.

"Only the prosperous had phones at that time," Purman said.

The museum has interested nearly 50 volunteers who donated about 500 hours, helping to maintain, catalog and sort the exhibits. Several college interns also are helping with computer work, oral histories and filing.

Mayor Jonathan S. Herman credits Purman with the museum's popularity.

"We call Jim one of our best treasures," said Herman. "He really manages to get people inspired and has everyone put forth the best effort."

The museum has mounted nine exhibits, including an antique tool demonstration and the archives from Holy Trinity Cemetery in Eldersburg.

More than 300 items are on long-term loan to the town, including many hand-painted photos from the descendants of the Jones sisters. The sisters' former residence on Springfield Avenue faces the museum.

"The Jones sisters hand-colored photos long before color film was invented," said Purman. "The photos were often given as presents for weddings and birthdays."

Georgia Wilson, a resident of Carroll Lutheran Village, was so impressed during her museum visit that she donated nine framed Jones photographs, a wedding gift to her in 1929.

"She told me she would leave the pictures with us because of the respect we show our collection," said Purman. "This is one of the largest gifts we have ever received."

The collection of municipal treasures grew substantially with donations from a long list of residents and local organizations.

An 1894 photo album that once belonged to the family of Wade Warfield, owner of several Sykesville businesses that flourished through the 1920s, is one of the newest acquisitions. Warfield built many of the structures that line Main Street today.

"The album shows buildings in and around Sykesville as well as business and family activities," said Purman.

Many of the pictures are faded beyond recognition, but a local photographer has said some can still be saved. Each restoration would cost $16 and Purman has asked for donations.

Information: 410-549-5150.

Pub Date: 10/03/99

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