Melrose is a piece of history that deserves preservation



August 25, 2011

This letter is in response to the Towson Times article, "Cockeysville family fights historical designation," in the Aug. 17 edition, regarding the Melrose property.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission, which voted Melrose onto the Preliminary Landmarks List, is composed of a variety of professionals, including architects, a representative from the home builders association, architectural preservationists, agriculturalists and others that have been appointed by the County Council and the County Executive.

That commission, as well as the nearby communities, appreciated the efforts of the Cockey and Cromwell families to preserve Melrose over the years. Due to the "caring" preservation efforts and due to the significant history surrounding the property and the prior owners and builders — Peter Cockey and Joshua F. Cockey — the Commission exercised their collective wisdom to nominate Melrose for designation.

Much of the historic fabric of Cockeysville has been lost over the past 30 years. Consider that the Gardner House at York and Shawan roads was removed but a few years ago, the famous Cockeysville Hotel was lost to the now defunct Maryland Specialty Wire Co., and Taylor Hall, just north of Padonia Road, had to be relocated out of the area in order to make way for development.

These structures are but a few examples of the tangible link to Cockeysville history that have been lost, and both objective professionals and the surrounding residential communities that are a part of the area believe Melrose should enjoy a better fate.

The homeowners were not initially opposed to the inclusion of the house on the landmark list, but were concerned that the 6.27-acre Historical Environmental Setting would be excessive.

There have, however, been recent and surprising assertions that this property is not historic, and we encourage readers to contact the county Historic Preservation Office, at 410-887-3495, to get a copy of the report prepared by the County Preservation Planner (Melrose Farm, 29 Ashland Road; Inventory No. BA-77).

In this report, with a long list of bibliographical references, you can read about the significant contribution that Peter Cockey and the Cockey family made to Cockeysville. Also discussed in detail is the historical significance of the property and house itself. Some highlights include:

• Melrose farm is a physical example of the first real development in the Cockeysville area.

• The fact that it was established in the same period as the railroad and the Sherwood Episcopal Church.

• Its role along with the town of Cockeysville during the Civil War is an important chapter in the history of Baltimore County, the history of Maryland and the United States. The Civil War encampments and activities at Melrose are directly related to the Pratt Street riots in Baltimore and the actions of a nervous government and nation.

• And, per Patricia Bentz, Baltimore County Historical Trust, "Melrose is also the only structure in the area still intact that defines the architecture in three different eras of the history in Baltimore County."

The county cannot afford to see another one of its first communities become extinct. Residents from a variety of neighborhoods in Cockeysville, not just Ashland, believe the Melrose property is worth preserving.

We believe the commemoration of Cockeysville's history should be an everyday occurrence, embodied by the preservation of Melrose. If you wish to voice your support, please contact Councilman Todd Huff via email at, or call 410-887-3387.

Lee Rock,

Ashland Community Assoc.

Becky Gerber,

Sherwood Hill Homeowners Assoc.

Eric Rockel,

Greater Timonium Community Council

Trish Bentz,

Baltimore County Historical Trust

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