Staying at Tudor Hall

January 31, 2012

It appears something with a measure of logic has come out of the year-long fiasco wherein the Harford County Council's Black Box building in Bel Air ended up being vacated.

Initially evacuated because of fears that the building may have been on the brink of a disaster, it later turned out a relatively inexpensive re-enforcement is all that was needed to shore up the building. And now the county council is poised to move its operations back into the building, returning the Harford County School Board's meeting room a few blocks away to that body and leaving other offices around the county seat a little less crowded.

One building whose temporary tenants will be staying for the foreseeable future, however, is Tudor Hall, the early 1800s farmhouse on the east side of Bel Air with a history both famous and infamous. The tenants who will be staying are the staff associated with the Harford County Cultural Arts Board. This is fitting because of the famous aspect of Tudor Hall's past, that being its having been the home of the Booth family of Shakespearean actors.

The infamous part of the house's history, however, was probably the most compelling reason for the building to have become county property in the first place. Tudor Hall was the boyhood home, after all, to Shakespearean actor turned presidential assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

Having the county's arts office associated with the building will serve as a reminder that, while the county is prominent in a shameful act in U.S. history, it also was a bastion of culture at a time when such civilizing influences were much needed by a growing nation.

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