All across Maryland, the forces of demolition are on the march. Using the tired refrains of ‘urban renewal,’ leaders  have called for millions of dollars to be funneled into demolition projects that have the potential to eliminate thousands of historic structures.

Demolition Efforts Across State Raise Alarms

Preservation Maryland’s pragmatic and realistic approach to preservation recognizes we cannot nor should not save every historic structure. We also recognize that demolition alone is not an actual reinvestment strategy. You simply cannot demolish your way to greatness – a lesson we hoped had been learned during the tragic ‘urban renewal’ era of the 1960s and 1970s.

Large-scale demolition proposals are currently being considered on either end of the state – in Baltimore and Cumberland – and Preservation Maryland is working hard to defend the state’s history and heritage in both cities.


In Cumberland, the City has proposed demolishing large portions of the Rolling Mill neighborhood – a historic community partially listed as a National Historic District. Phase one of the City’s demolition project takes aim at an area not currently listed – but likely eligible for inclusion in the larger historic district.

Unlike many demolition efforts, this project focuses mostly on owner-occupied homes and carries with it the unspoken threat of eminent domain for those homeowners unwilling to take the City’s offers to buy.

With the help of Preservation Maryland, those homeowners unwilling to sell have been connected with an attorney advising them of their rights and legal options. Critical details and funding information on the project remain unknown. This has forced Preservation Maryland to also secure legal representation to request that the City and the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation comply with the state’s Public Information Act and provide information on the project. The troubling lack of transparency and focus on demolishing owner-occupied historic homes make this a priority issue.

Preservation Maryland Loves Cumberland #Cumberlove
February 12, 2016

Discover Historic Rolling Mill: Kingsley Methodist Church
February 4, 2016

Preservation Maryland Offers Assistance to City of Cumberland & Opposes Costly Demolition Project
January 26, 2016


Two hours east of Cumberland in Baltimore City, the bulldozers have also leveled their blades. On January 5, with tremendous pomp and circumstance, the state announced a $700 million plan for demolitions across Baltimore City aimed at abandoned row houses that the governor called out as “hotbeds for crime.”

However, the funding behind the plan has been called into question by Warren Deschenaux, Executive Director of the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, as having the ability to “displace funding for other state programs or projects” including funding for the Community Legacy program which often supports true rehabilitation and preservation efforts.

The plan, which would spend nearly $100 million in demolition and an additional $600 million in incentives for new-build developers, has the potential to eliminate acres of historic districts. Preservation Maryland is working closely with our colleagues at Baltimore Heritage to make certain any funds earmarked for demolition adhere to the state’s laws concerning the demolition of historic structures – and that any damage caused by demolition is mitigated by funding or projects aimed at enhancing the City’s historic fabric.

Fortunately, we don’t have to settle for this kind of careless planning and demolition. Our new Endangered Historic Structure Fund will be used to accomplish the following:

  • To establish a legal defense fund that will support the efforts necessary to appeal the fast-tracking of demolition without community engagement

  • To help pay for our work in Annapolis to advocate for increased state rehabilitation tax credit funding to offset the millions proposed to demolish historic neighborhoods.

  • To put us on the ground in rural & urban communities alike that need our help and have no one else to turn to.

The work continues – and with your support of our Endangered Historic Structure Fund – Preservation Maryland will ensure an equitable result for all of Maryland’s history. This is what preservation advocacy looks like and you are making it possible.