Meetings soon began with the county commissioners to discuss the transfer of Beaver Creek School and the financial limitations of WCHS to assume major maintenance and repairs to the building. A committee was formed to examine considerations for the schoolhouse with estimates for costs to rehab and long-term associated costs. They also needed to deal with the legal issues of the shared parking and water supply with the nearby church.
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The county went forward with a roofing contract at Beaver Creek School and the committee working on the school exhibits had finalized plans that one room would reflect a schoolroom of the year when the school was built — 1904.
Items were already being offered for display at the schoolhouse, including an initial loan of documents from Mrs. Winslow Burhans, widow of another former mayor. Loan custody issues and the necessary insurance for same presented new concerns.
Mr. and Mrs. J. Howard Beckenbaugh offered to take over preparations for the other room in the schoolhouse, where various exhibits would be placed. The annual meeting of January 1971 opened with the ringing of an old school bell from Winter Street School and the invited guest speaker was Superintendent of Washington County Schools William M. Brish, who began his talk with information about the earliest schools dating before 1776.
The board was asked to consider the old Hagerstown Rubber Co. manufacturing plant in the park as a place for a Civil War museum. Thoughts were that a technical museum and the old fire truck could be placed there, as well.
With the increase in activity and the work load that the society had assumed, the board began talking about the need for a full-time administrator. No budget could be framed under the current finances for a position, so there was a proposal that the work would be divided among board members and help was sought for the extensive clerical needs.
An agreement related to the Beaver Creek School for increased financial support, picnic facilities and grounds maintenance by the county parks department was in the works with the county commissioners. The parks department soon began a complete clean-up of the grounds, where weeds and tall grasses had overtaken the property. A final agreement was reached in 1971.
More donations arrived, such as the papers, poems and albums of Edgar Brenner, the young poet of Smithsburg, whose life was cut short by a tragic accident; an antique leather fireman's bucket, a required-by-potential-fine urban household accessory; and a new addition to the growing quilt collection.
The area beneath the dining room and kitchen of the Miller House was identified for potential storage after a new floor could be laid. Zoned heating for the building was also considered. On the archival side, there was discussion about publishing a book about the three families who had occupied the Miller House since it was built in 1825. Those families were the Price, Neill and Miller families, in that order of occupancy.
As the community, with anticipated help from the society, was starting to prepare for the 200th anniversary of the nation, the Miller House was connected to sanitary sewer lines at a cost of $1,365.00. Security issues were revisited for all sites, including the need to erect a fence around buildings in the park near Hager House. An estimate was given at $2,300 and the board decided to ask for bids.
After receiving appropriate permission to raise funds through the sale of some of the remaining 1937 Antietam Commemorative Coins in the possession of the society, 30 were sent in May 1971 to Stacks Coin Co., who would charge 20-percent commission for selling them. Proceeds would help pay for the fence.
By the end of 1971, the board had drafted a job description for a part-time curator and members were planning to ask the county commissioners for support for this position.
Linda Irvin-Craig is executive director of the Washington County Historical Society. For more information, call 301-797-8782 or go to www.washcomdhistoricalsociety.org.