Brunswick’s historic ‘Snoots House’ to be preserved with state grant | Story
A Brunswick home so old it even predates the name ‘Brunswick’ was recently mined for preservation after a Maryland-based preservation company received a $150,000 state grant .
This grant is the result of hard work to ensure “Snoots House” is saved.
Located at 9 Maple Ave., the house is one of the few remaining buildings in the small town that actually predate the name of the town of Brunswick, according to James Castle, a local historian with the Brunswick Heritage Museum.
Before 1890, Brunswick was called Berlin and Snoots House is one of 12 buildings old enough to have experienced this transition.
According to Castle, however, a big part of what makes the house so interesting is how many specific details are in the air.
“We don’t know any more than we know,” he said. “That’s what makes it so intriguing.”
Castle, as well as Laura Houston, redevelopment manager for Preservation Maryland, said the land the house sits on has been deeded since 1787, but it’s hard to say exactly how long the house has been there. Both agreed that it was built sometime between 1830 and 1850.
Houston said she hopes to learn more about the house during the preservation project.
“These projects allow you to dig through those stories,” she said. “I think as we get to know the house better, we will know more.”
The project in question stems from Preservation Maryland receiving $150,000 in Community Legacy Program funding from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
Currently, the house is owned by the development company Taft-Mills Group, which is in the process of transferring ownership of the house to the city. Preservation Maryland will then oversee the process of restoring and preserving the house on behalf of the city.
Houston said Preservation Maryland will work to preserve the home in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for the treatment of historic properties, which, among other things, set standards for how period the home should look during restoration.
For example, one might ask, “If a house was occupied in the 1850s and 1950s, what is a good time period to make it look like?” Houston said the standards answer that question.
“When you look at what details to keep, what to delete, you’re choosing a period of significance,” Houston said. “A lot of times it’s around the time it was built, or the time it had the most activity.”
So although the house has undergone extensive renovations over the years – Castle even claiming that there is evidence that the second floor was added at a later date, and that there were certainly rooms added to the first floor at some point as well – the house will eventually be restored to roughly reflect what a house would look like during the Antebellum period in which it was built.
What exactly is the story of the house? According to Castle’s research, it seems like he’s been part of a story of ordinary, ordinary people throughout his nearly 200 years. Castle said census data from 1790 shows that the plot of land – and possibly the house on it – passed between a number of families, before it was finally purchased by a family with the name of Snoots family.
That family, Castle said, occupied the home between the 1940s and the 1990s, resulting in the household name Brunswick residents might know.
“Snoots House is not a historic name for the house,” Castle said. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if the name changes at some point.”
As for what will happen with Snoots House once its restoration is complete, plans have not been finalized, but Castle and Houston, as well as Brunswick Mayor Nathan Brown, have all hinted at the possibility of it becoming a museum. of living history in one form or another.
Brown said he hoped the historic nature of Snoots House, and indeed much of the rest of the town, could be used as a tourist attraction.
“We’re playing on the history of this being one of the oldest structures,” Brown said. “It could be used as a historical space, perhaps as an educational room to walk through.”
Brown said the home’s proximity to outdoor activities offered by the Potomac River and the city campground could help make her potential educational experience something else to do when visiting Brunswick.
Regardless of what specifically comes from the restoration of the house, Castle said he was happy that it was preserved. He and Brown said Snoots House was originally to be demolished as part of Taft-Mills’ planned housing project. Another of the city’s 12 Berlin-era houses, right next to Snoots House, will still be demolished as part of the project.
Castle said that in many ways preservation is a compromise between the existence of historic properties and the needs of people today. Still, the preservation of Snoots House is a victory in his mind.
“I think it’s a great project and I’m happy to be involved in it,” he said. “The big thing I like to tell people is that there is an interesting history in Brunswick. We must do our part to tell our unique story, and preserving this home is part of telling that story.
Follow Patrick Kernan on Twitter: @PatKernan