WC Awarded $100,000 from Maryland Historical Trust

Waterfowl Chesapeake (WC) is thrilled to announce that Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) has awarded the organization $100,000 from its Historic Preservation Capital Grant Program for the renovation of the windows in the Waterfowl Building in downtown Easton. WC is one of only seven award recipients from across the state.

“We are so grateful to MHT for recognizing the historic relevance of our building and its value to the community,” says WC Executive Director Margaret Enloe. “In addition to being the home base for the Waterfowl Festival for nearly five decades, we’ve increased our rental of the Festival Hall and now host more than a dozen events each year, from camp fairs to fine arts events, making us one of the area’s new leading community venues. Our hope is that the restored windows and frames will enhance the beauty of the space and encourage even more people to see us as a gathering place.”

Working closely within MHT guidelines, Waterfowl Chesapeake will hire a contractor specializing in historic restoration. The steel-frame windows will be removed and taken off-site where they will be carefully dismantled, cleaned, repainted and re-glazed before being reinstalled. Work is expected to start in fall of this year.

The project will proceed in phases to allow WC’s offices to remain open for business during construction and for the Waterfowl Festival to take place as usual on the second weekend in November. The phased schedule will also ensure that other organizations that are renting the Festival Hall can hold their events during construction with minimal disturbance. While the Trust’s program allows two years for the restoration to be completed, WC optimistically hopes to have the windows done within the next year.

The historic Easton Armory, now referred to as the Waterfowl Building, was built in 1927 after several years of lobbying by local residents and elected officials. While its function was to serve as a training facility for Maryland’s state militia, the building’s drill hall, now called Festival Hall, also served as a community gathering place for everything from boxing matches and basketball games to flower shows, poultry exhibitions and art festivals over the decades. Waterfowl took ownership of the building in the 1980s, after a stint of ownership by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Town of Easton.

“We think the Waterfowl Building is a gem on this end of downtown and want to do everything to make it shine brightly as a gathering place for our local organizations and groups on the Mid Shore,” adds Margaret.

With a focus on communities, stewardship and the waterfowl-related resources and heritage on Delmarva, Waterfowl Chesapeake connects financial resources from the festival and environmental needs in communities, serves as a neutral convener for events, forums and discussions leading to solutions, and engages and educates communities about the benefits of healthy waterfowl populations and habitats.

As part of Governor Larry Hogan’s Regional Cabinet Meeting in Cambridge last month, Special Secretary for Smart Growth Wendi Peters and Maryland Department of Planning Secretary Robert McCord announced seven projects selected to receive Historic Preservation Capital Grants from the Maryland Historical Trust at a ceremony at the Waterfowl Building in Easton.

For the first time in nearly a decade, Governor Hogan restored funding for the Historic Preservation Capital Grant Program, which assists bricks-and-mortar historic preservation projects. MHT received more than 70 applications for projects competing for the $600,000 in available grants, demonstrating strong demand for the funding within communities across the state. Organizations can request up to $100,000 per project; awards range from $34,000 to the full $100,000.

“The State of Maryland is rich in its historically significant and diverse architecture, proud heritage, and cultural traditions,” said Governor Hogan. “It is important that we recognize and preserve our history all across the state, and our administration is pleased to restore this vital funding.”

The Capital Grant Program provides support for physical preservation projects as well as for architectural, engineering, archeology, and consulting services needed in the development of a construction project. Acquisition of properties can also be funded. All assisted properties are either listed on or eligible for National Register of Historic Places designation.

Since its inception in 1978, the Capital Grant Program has awarded nearly $15 million for physical preservation measures to more than 500 historic properties in every county and Baltimore City. Non-profits, local jurisdictions, business entities, and individuals are all eligible applicants, encouraging a wide range of property owners or site stewards to apply.

MHT, an agency of the Maryland Department of Planning, was formed in 1961 to assist the people of Maryland in identifying, studying, evaluating, preserving, protecting, and interpreting the state’s significant prehistoric and historic districts, sites, structures, cultural landscapes, heritage areas, cultural objects, and artifacts, as well as less tangible human and community traditions. Through research, conservation, and education, MHT assists the people of Maryland in understanding their historical and cultural heritage.

Elizabeth Hughes (left), Director of Maryland Historical Trust, and Robert McCord, Maryland Department of Planning Secretary, presents $100,000 from MHT’s Historic Preservation Capital Grant Program to Waterfowl Chesapeake Executive Director Margaret Enloe on July 17.
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