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Historic Perry Hall Mansion Addresses Neighborhood Concerns

The organization informed the Perry Hall Manor neighborhood about planned mansion renovations.

While the Perry Hall Mansion, built in the 1770s, currently hosts just a handful of small public events per year, neighbors shared concerns that larger events and future renovations could disrupt the quiet Perry Hall Manor community. 

The Historic Perry Hall Mansion board of directors addressed these concerns during a general membership meeting Wednesday evening at St. Michael Lutheran Church in Perry Hall. 

Led by board administrative director Jeffrey Smith, the meeting included the following highlights:

  • The Historic Perry Hall Mansion, a non-profit organization created in 2007 seeking to preserve and restore the mansion, currently has over $100,000 in its coffers dedicated to mansion restoration. 
  • The organization's first priority for restoration is the main rooms on the first floor of the mansion, including the music room and dining room.
  • The board is exploring several fundraising options, from an off-site bull roast to book sales to small tea times inside the mansion. 
  • The organization is seeking to lease the mansion from Baltimore County, which would give them more flexibility toward restoration.
  • The organization hopes to change the mansion's access road from Perry Hall Road to Meetinghouse Road, so the access road would no longer cross neighbors' driveways. 
  • The Baltimore County Fire Marshal has not yet determined how many people are allowed inside the mansion or on the grounds. 
  • The organization board has so far rejected multiple requests from wedding planners, photographers and ghost hunters to use the mansion.
  • The mansion is not yet renovated to the point where it could sustain large public events beyond the annual holiday party.
  • Several neighbors at the meeting requested a written restriction on the number of people or vehicles allowed on mansion property. Neighbors were concerned about weddings or a large parking lot. 
  • The board does not currently plan on regularly using the grounds for weddings. There are also no plans for a large parking lot. 
  • The organization board said it was too early to make any final decisions on how many people could use mansion property at once.
  • The organization's by-laws specify limited use of the structure, and the organization is legally bound by its by-laws, which include the following: The purpose of this organization shall be to maintain, manage, and promote the Perry Hall Mansion, a historic property in Perry Hall, Maryland.  The property shall be used as an educational resource reflecting the area’s history and culture, showcasing the contributions of the house and its residents to Maryland and United States history.  It shall serve as a repository for artifacts relating to local history.  It shall be available for public use including tours and events and other limited uses. 
  • "Perry Hall Mansion," an Images of America book through Arcadia Publishing, written and compiled by Smith and board communications director Sean Kief, will begin being sold by the organization this month. Half of the proceeds from copies sold by the Historic Perry Hall Mansion organization benefit restoration. Copies sold by bookstores and other retailers do not support the mansion. 
  • The Historic Perry Hall Mansion is seeking members and volunteers. Visit the organization's website for details. 

Find additional information from the meeting in the live blog below. 

Meeting updates were recorded live. 

7:04 p.m. 

Board administrative director Jeffrey Smith opened the meeting. 

Some board members, including Sean Kief, author of the book, was not able to attend the meeting. 

Several attendees, members of the Perry Hall Manor neighborhood, arrived with questions. 

7:06 p.m.

Board members in attendance introduced themselves. 

Communications Director: Sean Kief

Education Director: Wayne Schaumburg

Events Director: Laura Kimball

Financial Director: Dale Kief

Grounds Maintenance: Glen Spamer

Membership Director: Colleen Bowers

Physical Facilities Director: Dean Foreman

Shoppe Director: Sylvia Lowers-Sackleh 

County Councilman David Marks was also attendance. State Sen. Kathy Klausmeier was unavailable because she is in Annapolis.

7:09 p.m.

Smith began reading questions from community members. 

Question: Next on the list for renovations and improvements?

They received a significant donation recently from Brightview housing, planned behind Safeway. They gave $15,000 to help support the mansion. 

This will help renovate the three main rooms inside first floor of mansion. Ballroom, music room and dining room. Cosmetic, wallpaper, cleaning and painting are the next priority.

The Womens Club of Perry Hall also donated money for that interior renovation. 

Another developer will also be making a donation. 

In the past work on the mansion had to be done under Baltimore County, and businesses did not like donating to the county. As a private organization, they will be able to do their own work and collect their own donations. 

Question: Are there funds to help interior?

This was addressed earlier. $10,000 plus $15,000 plus $3,000 has been donated. 

Question: Is there a schedule or list for renovations?

There is a plan, it will be done room by room. "We don't want to do too much at any given time." The most essential rooms come first. It's roughly a five-year plan. 

Question: Is there a date for completion?

There is not, it is still owned by Baltimore County, more progress will come after the county leases it to the organization. Right now, any changes have to go through the county. Also, it has to comply with the Maryland Historical Trust.

"We can't go out and paint it Ravens purple because we won the Super Bowl ... these are not insurmountable hurdles."

"We need to make sure the community knows they're going to have a building we can all be proud of."

Kimball spokes about her background as a professional interior designer. Members of the board are experts "so we're just going to willy-nilly make decisions ... we also do not have unlimited funds so we're going to make decisions that are long lasting."

Question: Are you aware of peeling paint on outside of building? 

In 2004, the county did the paint job when there was still some moisture on the stucco. Some parts were not primed and are now rotting. The organization has worked to repair the wood on the steps so they are stabilized. A new paint job is going to be scheduled. That was 4.5 years before the organization was created. It started peeling over two years ago, "we're obviously not happy about it ... the next time we paint, we'll make sure there's no moisture."

Questions: What is the proposed use for the building in the long term?

Mission statement: The purpose of this organization shall be to maintain, manage, and promote the Perry Hall Mansion, a historic property in Perry Hall, Maryland.  The property shall be used as an educational resource reflecting the area’s history and culture, showcasing the contributions of the house and its residents to Maryland and United States history.  It shall serve as a repository for artifacts relating to local history.  It shall be available for public use including tours and events and other limited uses. 

Part museum, part community resource—we don't have anything else like this Perry Hall. "Whatever we can do to promote that, that's out bottom line."

Question: What's the plan with parking and a new driveway?

There are no specific plans related to that right now. There is an access challenge to the property, however. They have talked to Baltimore County about access from Meetinghouse Road. The county does not have the money for that right now. Permanent asphalt is not allowed because of archaeological concerns, but crusher run may be a better option. 

Kimball: Driveway will not be across from anyone's driveway, they're trying to make it easier on the property. They first need permission to smooth over area and some trees. 

Question: Will the parking lot be lit?

I can't envision why it would need to be, Smith said. 

Kimball: We're not creating Walmart here ... parking lighting is expensive.

Question: How many cars will it hold?

Smith said probably 15-20, but he couldn't produce a number because there are currently no plans. 

The neighborhood requested no more than 50. People could also be carpooled in. 

The mansion has one sink, one toilet and one kitchen, so sewer pressure is not an issue. That's a limitation though. 

Still, it doesn't restrict the small meetings and lecture series. 

A woman asked if the mansion would be turned over for a wedding reception with a large tent. 

Smith said the organization has never turned over the mansion to a private entity. Though, there have been partnerships in the past with historic site tours. 

Smith has rejected requests from the paranormal society, photographers and weddings. They have categorically rejected all of those requests. 

"We are proud of our record, we value our record," Smith said. 

"They truly, everyone on that board is about history," an attendee said. 

Kimball added though that they need to be self-sustaining and make money somehow, but their focus is still on history. 

Marks has downzoned the property, so it's not going to be commercial. 

Neighbors are concerned about weddings.

Smith said high tea, like they have at Ballstone Mansion in Essex, and meetings are income generators. 

An attendee asked about where the boundaries are. 

Activity at the building is very, very limited to clean-ups and tours, Smith said. The bylaws are very narrow, he said, so legally, they have an obligation to follow their own contract. 

An attendee is concerned about run-off, and asked the mansion to be mindful of that. 

Those issues will be communicated with county government. Smith said they are working with Marks about that.

Question: What are the plans for fundraising and PR?

Lecture series, the mansion store, notecards, the book are helping to fundraise—we make decent money on that, Smith said. 

Smith asked people to buy them from the mansion instead of from a retailer. It's the same price, but from the mansion, half goes to the mansion. 

A presentation on the book is scheduled for March 9 at the mansion. 

Smith is also planning to survey people on fundraisers they would be interested in. A bull roast off the property is also possible. A Bill Bateman's night is also planned. 

The holiday event made $3,000, all profit because everything was donated. 

Question: What plans are there for period furnishings?

They have received several donations already for furnishings. If someone has a donation, they will consider it. The Maryland Historical Trust may also donate furniture. 

Certain rooms or items may also be named after the donors, but they're not prepared to move forward on that yet.

Question: What is the financial status of organization?

Over $100,000, we've more than doubled our money since 2007 and have spent.

Question: What are the plans for 2013?

The rooms on the first floor. According to the by-laws: The Historic Perry Hall Mansion, Inc. is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, more specifically  for the advancement of education, maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works, and lessening the burdens of government; as described in and with accordance to the tax exempt purposes set forth in Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).

Question: How will it be sustained in the long term?

Several revenue generators: grants, small events on and off the site, the mansion store, etc.

Question: Plans in general?

Smith repeated by-laws?

The purpose of this organization shall be to maintain, manage, and promote the Perry Hall Mansion, a historic property in Perry Hall, Maryland.  The property shall be used as an educational resource reflecting the area’s history and culture, showcasing the contributions of the house and its residents to Maryland and United States history.  It shall serve as a repository for artifacts relating to local history.  It shall be available for public use including tours and events and other limited uses.

Question: How many people can be at the mansion?

Between 150-200.

Question: Have traffic conditions on Perry Hall Road been considered?

We're very mindful of where we're located. The focus is on small events. 

Attendees are worried about maximum footprint of parking. 

Smith said he couldn't tell them when parking would become a major issue.

Kimball said that meetings will become more frequent, and they will continue to communicate with the community. 

Smith said the mansion has a history of opening for community members. 

Smith said they can flexible because they're a non-profit. 

Smith affirmed that he has said no in the past to weddings. He does not want it to be a burden to the community. 

"We don't want to alienate you."

"As long as we are here, we're going to build that precedent to do the right thing."

Attendee: "I trust them, but time will tell."

"When are members are you, we're not going to alienate you, because you are us," Smith said. 

Kimball: "We love your suggestions ... we'd love for you to help us ... future generations of this board must sincerely want to preserve he building and community ... we need that to come from the neighborhood."

Kimball: "We are evolving, 2007 we became what we are ... part of this process is an evolutionary process ... we will hit these questions ... but we can't make those decisions now because we haven't hit them yet." 

Marks: "You have my commitment that I support light uses here ... this project is not beloved in county government ... people want to sell it off as a bed and breakfast ... also, we don't have a lot of money and I don't want to raise taxes ... that money needs to go to schools ... I support you and your community."

Marks added that Miller Road will be resurfaced soon. 

An attendee asked for a light at Perry Hall Road. Issues involving Belair Road are a state issue. 

An attendee praised Marks for being on their side back when the mansion was up for possible sale. He asked for a round of applause for Marks. They clapped. 

Smith said guidelines are pending. 

An attendee said that someone was using a metal detector on the property and police confronted him. Patch will look into it. 


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