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LIVE BLOG: Historic Perry Hall Mansion General Meeting

Community members gathered to discuss volunteer opportunities and events at the Perry Hall Mansion.

7:09 p.m.

Members of the Historic Perry Hall Mansion board greeted attendees. 

Jeffrey Smith introduced the group's "newly styled name," since transitioning from the Friends of the Perry Hall Mansion.

"It takes a lot, a lot of people and a lot of dedication to make this happen," Smith said.

Smith introduced a member of the board of another mansion, the Clifton Mansion.

7:12 p.m.

Smith said elected officials have been supportive of the mansion effort.

Board member Laura Kimball introduced the new organization of the group. "The county no longer wants to be in the business of supporting historic structures ... we'd like to take over the building ... the county wants out and we want in ... it's a good deal."

Kimball said the group is planning a two-year lease from the county and then they are considering buying the mansion.

Once the agreement is set for with Baltimore County, then it can be purchased by the group.

In order to make this happen, they need to become a corporation and separate from Baltimore County Recreation and Parks. They are now a non-profit corporation.

They have re-written their bylaws.

See the slide "Organizational Business."

7:16 p.m.

State Sen. Kathy Klaumeier arrived.

Kimball encouraged members to review the bylaws online, and read about why and how they are tax exempt.

Their 30-page IRS form will be turned in this year. "It's going to be a beautiful packet when we submit it, hopefully flawless."

The status is needed in order to keep the organization from having to pay property tax on the Perry Hall Mansion.

Kimball said the plan is now to get the community much more involved.

She reviewed the group's general purpose, which she said was similar to its original purpose—community use for limited events, historic preservation.

7:20 p.m.

Kimball introduced members of the board. Members can sign up to assist board members with communication, education, events, maintenance and planning for the building.

Clean-up days are coming up in October and November.

7:23 p.m.

Colleen Bowers reviewed membership. Since 2007, it has stretched from 82 members to 218. 

She recruits new members at craft fairs, parades, church bazaars and community fairs. "We talk to lots of people about who we are and what we do ... we have our gift shop available ... that's how we bring in new people."

Total membership income is now $1,395.

"Not everybody renews, not everybody stays current," she said.

Members can help with mailings, handing out fliers and helping with the ancestry project, she said.

7:30 p.m.

Smith said the group is financially solid with $84,198.49.

Smith said the group can always use more money and that compared to other structures' historic restorations, it could cost millions.

"Part of the challenge financially is a create a sustainable revenue stream ... for operational expenses ... the second part is restoration ... improvements," Smith said.

"The house is showing some wear ... there's rotting in the porch ... it could use a new coat of paint ... we need to plan for the big ticket items," he said.

7:35 p.m.

Sean Kief, communications director, referred members to the website. He said a newsletter is planned, via email preferred.

Mail is expensive.

He spoke about the upcoming book through a national publisher. He has been collecting images for the past 3-4 years. He spokes about his grandmother who grew up at the mansion.

"It's just so exciting ... you get to meet amazing people. It's going to hit Perry Hall strong," Kief said.

Smith added, "as much as we thought we knew the history ... the nuggets we found were fascinating."

Smith told a story about letters from Perry Hall's founder Harry Dorsey Gough, how they are all about money and mortgages.

Smith said a woman who had read the Perry Hall Patch article about the book sent Smith and Kief 25 images of the mansion from the 1950s.

"If anybody hears of any new photos, any new stories ... contact us ... it's not too late, that's how the book started in the first place," he said.

7:42 p.m.

Kimball spoke about future plans for the house.

See the slide "Plan."

The board no longer has a president, it has an equal board.

Kimball reminded people that board members are all volunteer. No one receives a paycheck.

Part of the lease agreement from the county is that they must pay a $75,000 check to the county during the lease.

The mansion has been used for a Christmas party and grounds maintenance, "but we'd like to do more things," Kimball said.

The porch, peeling paint and other problems are ongoing, "but considering how old the building is, we're in great shape."

"We want the house to be used ... we want recitals, teas ... but there will be no use of the building that does not go through the board first ... we do not want this to disturb the neighborhood, we want this to be a benefit to the community," Kimball said. 

One or two of the upstairs bedrooms could be a children's museum.

"We want it to be important not only to older generations, but growing generations as well so they can value it," Kimball said. "We want to make sure we are offering our younger generation that connection ... the benefit of learning more about the community, we've got these things in the works."

Kimball said security, insurance and ramps are needed.

They need to raise $100,000 in the next year. "If everyone pays $50, we can do it," she said.

She said that community members can use their dayjobs to raise money and donate items.

Kimball said the building is not like it was in 1773. It now is more like it was in the mid-1800s after the fire.

So many people have changed the building, that the focus is now on renovation, rather than restoration, she said.

7:52 p.m.

"The house needs help, old houses need help," she said.

Rotten wood on the porch is a major issue, Kimball said. On Oct. 20, volunteers will help repair the porch.

"We need a security system ... we need a door we can open with a key," Kimball said. "Little things like that can go a long way toward hosting an event."

Timeline, she said, would only require 3-6 months, but only if they have the money.

Within two years of leasing the building, Kimball said it could be ready for public events.

The kitchen and bathroom could cost a lot of money. She asked people to connect with friends and neighbors who can provide labor and in-kind donations.

7:58 p.m.

Wayne Schaumburg, education director, joked that membership is "very expensive" at $5 per person. 

He talked about how most people simply want to get in the house.

The Goughs married into the Carroll family and other owners of Baltimore-area mansions.

Other mansions have artifacts related to Perry Hall. The mansion is also connected to American Methodism. This is an important part of the local history.

He is planning several tours and education series. 

8:02 p.m.

The Mansion Shoppe offers clothing and dog treats and postcards and other items. They are selling them at fairs and events, and you can order off the website as well. 

Christopher Schaffer Clothier, a high-end men's tailor, is designing a special tie for the mansion.

8:06 p.m.

The sixth annual Christmas event is coming up, but more events are planned.

"We need to raise a lot of money ... in the world of fundraising events, galas are on the way out ... they're showy but in order to make a lot of money, we need to offer a lot of different events ... we could have hundreds of different events," Kimball said.

Kimball asked who would like to attend a formal dinner, all-day fair, or education series. Attendees raised their hands.

"Anyone who has different ideas, let us know," Kimball said.

"We have the potential of making this a wonderful community asset, but we can't make it happen ourselves," she said.

"We need your money, we need lots and lots of money," she added.

Smith said that they are expecting some donations toward the end of the year at the Christmas event. He asked attendees to visit the library reading room where a painting of the mansion are kept. A painting has also been donated to Perry Hall High's media center.

8:13 p.m.

Q&A began.

Someone asked if a lease with the county would cost them anything. During the term of the lease, the group would offer a balloon security deposit, that would be held in escrow. Afterward, they would sell the mansion to the group for $1.

By June of 2013, it could be finalized.

During the lease Baltimore County would still own thr property and may possibly pay the insurance. But renters insurance would still need to be paid by the group.

The county may also take care of lawn care during the lease, and they have been there every other week to take care of the lawn—a dramatic improvement from past years.

They do not need to be ADA compliant, but they will build ramps or lifts.

8:20 p.m.

The entry way into the mansion and road is yet to be decided, in terms of location. 

It is ideal to have the entrance off Meetinghouse Road, so it will not go through people's lawns, but that must be approved by the Maryland Historic Trust.

They would need someone to come out with a sonar gun and check for archaeological objects.

A neighbor said he would like access to be changed so people do not cross his lawn to get into the mansion.

Another neighbor said that Baltimore County supported a road change several years ago.

Smith said that it's a shame the road was not paved in the past.

They are incorporated in the state of Maryland.

It was purchased by Baltimore County in 2001.

The roof was replaced in 2003 using state money. Smith said the roof is in great condition.

A county survey showed no earthquake damage.

Patch asked if federal loans and grants were available.

Smith said few would be available to the mansion because it's in a residential area and does not have a commerical redevelopment. "If the mansion were in the middle of a 100-acre field, it would be a very different story," Smith said.

He added federal earmarks are no longer available like they were, but the board will leave no stone unturned.

An attendee thank the board and everyone clapped.

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Check back at 7 p.m. for live updates from the meeting in this article.

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David Marks September 19, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Congratulations to the volunteers working on this project. This property is close to my heart, and while I can't attend tonight, I will continue to work on the lease and to secure some funding for the mansion's restoration.

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