Bugle Call

A Community Collaboration Success Story: Saving the Uniontown Bank

June 10, 2015

Carroll County Historic Preservation Main Streets

A Community Collaboration Success Story: Saving the Uniontown Bank

The former Carroll County Savings Bank, constructed in 1907, stands as one of the few commercial buildings left within the National Register-listed Historic District of Uniontown. The bank has been vacant since the 1970s, with many of the original features preserved like a time capsule inside. Although the building was threatened with demolition last summer, this tidy brick façade will remain for future generations thanks to the work of preservationists in Carroll County.

At this time last year, the bank’s back wall was starting to bow away from the building and the roof was in need of repair. The property owners put in an application to the Carroll County Historic Preservation Commission to demolish the bank, concerned about the structural integrity of the building after an evaluation had determined that the back wall would not survive the first freeze of the year. An emergency meeting was called for August 2014 when the Carroll County Bureau of Permits and Inspections received the demolition permit. The Commission asked the Bureau for the opportunity to investigate the issue and reconvene.

The first step in saving the Uniontown Bank was to perform a structural analysis to determine if the building was beyond repair. While multiple sources of funding were identified, most were deemed impossible to procure within the short time needed to save the building. With a budget of $2,000, the Commission hired a structural engineer to provide a professional opinion regarding the physical integrity of the building. That analysis determined that the back wall needed to be replaced.  

Uniontown1.JPGBy September, the Commission had received two estimates: one to totally restore the building (approximately $250,000) and one to stabilize it and bring it up to code (approximately $70,000). While grant opportunities were available for this type of work, the ability to raise matching funds was a concern.

Locals demonstrated their commitment to saving this structure. One Uniontown resident offered to establish a fundraising committee, and other community members agreed that this was not a building they wanted to lose. Another resident helped the team identify a structural engineer who could offer a second opinion. Although a single course of action was not determined, there was energy behind the effort to stabilize the building. 

Around this time, a buyer stepped forward: Jonathan Herman, former Mayor of Sykesville and owner of Herman Construction, Inc. Herman, an experienced preservationist, purchased the property without a clear vision for its use in mind. He has since replaced the problematic back wall and is in the process of transforming the old bank into a private residence today.

The Uniontown case was a success in multiple ways. The building, an excellent example of a rural bank building, was saved from demolition. The Carroll County Historic Preservation Commission was able to take their objective to the residents of Uniontown. Community members became more aware of Historic Uniontown, Inc., resulting in a substantial membership increase. This was a collaborative effort by members of the community, county, Heritage Area and the private sector made this preservation possible.

Special recognition goes out to Mr. James Bradley, who was the Chair of the Carroll County Historic Preservation. Mr. Bradley has since passed away but the considerable role he played during this effort will not be forgotten.

Inspired to take a trip to Uniontown? Check out the Uniontown walking tour brochure here, or make plans to visit on July 19 for the Beyond the Garden Gate Tour benefitting the preservation of another Uniontown landmark, the 1851 Academy building. For more coverage of the Uniontown bank, explore the Carroll County Times’ coverage of the issue here.

Andrea Gerhard

Contributing Author: Andrea Gerhard

Andrea Gerhard is a Comprehensive Planner for Carroll County Government. She has been acting as the chair to the Carroll County delegation within the Heritage Area and has been involved with the Heritage Area since 2013. She received two bachelors degrees in Political Science and Metropolitan... Read More