Town House is to get a $140,000 expansion

Changes to make it accessible to disabled

Sykesville

August 12, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Sykesville will build an addition to its century-old Town House, an estimated $140,000 expansion that would preserve the building's historic character while making the seat of town government more accessible to those with disabilities.

A state grant for historic improvements will pay for the work that will give the building a new entrance, a roomier meeting area and two bathrooms.

"Our plans are nearly complete, and we have our historic district's approval," said Matthew Candland, town manager. "We hope to go out to bid this month and get under roof before winter."

Plans call for an 800- square-foot addition on the side of the two-story building, a former residence that Sykesville bought for $35,000 in 1968.

Volunteers renovated the 16-room house into a town hall. The parlor became the council chambers; the clerk treasurer set up office in the dining room; and the mayor was on the enclosed side porch. The receptionist still sits in the foyer between the double doorway and the base of a winding oak stairway, a niche that easily holds a desk and filing cabinets.

The town has grown considerably in the past 36 years, to nearly 4,500 residents. Council meetings often draw crowds of more than 50 people, who cannot fit into the old parlor. People spill into the adjacent mail room, where they cannot see most of the council, or onto the wraparound porch, where, in good weather, they can listen to proceedings at open windows. There is only one unisex bathroom, now on the first floor.

The addition will house a more spacious meeting room, with a sound system, more visibility and comfortable seating for at least 40 visitors and town officials.

The expansion will push out about 20 feet from the mail room onto the parking lot. The new entrance with a covered porch will face the lot. Visitors will pass men's and women's bathrooms on their way to the council chamber.

"People will actually walk right from the parking lot into the addition," Candland said.

The addition will have the same deep red-brown wood siding and dark green trim as the rest of the building. The one-story height will not affect the elaborate carved cornices at the building's roof line.

"The idea was to preserve the facade as best we could," Candland said. "This will clearly be an addition, but it will not compete with the building. It will complement it."

If any grant funds remain after the work is completed, officials might try to finish the Town House basement, transforming it into storage for town records. Many items are stored in the attic, where there is abundant space. But the lack of temperature controls is playing havoc with aging papers, Candland said.

"For our records, the attic is a horrible space," he said.

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