In early February, at the invitation of the Valley Planning Council, Preservation Maryland’s Director of Preservation Services, Margaret De Arcangelis, testified in opposition to a redevelopment project that would infringe on the historic setting of the Stemmer House, a contributing resources in the Cave Valley Historic District in Baltimore County.

Sloping hillsides, forests, and streams make up the landscape at the Cave Valley, and its 2,100 acres are home to farms that date back to the mid-1700s and includes vernacular, Georgian and Georgian Revival style homes. Over the years residents have come and gone from the area, but much has stayed the same, and it is because the area shows the development of rural agriculture in the region that it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

In 2005, the viewshed of this beautiful valley was threatened by the proposed division and development of a 24-acre parcel on the edge of the historic district. That project was denied by the zoning commissioner because of the adverse effects to the environment and the historic district, but now the developer is trying again.

The property under consideration for development surrounds the Stemmer House, a beautiful example of Georgian architecture – the house is included in the Caves Valley District and on its own a Baltimore County Historic Landmark. Beyond reducing the parcel around the Stemmer House to just a few acres, this proposed development would do irreparable damage to the setting of the house.

According to the National Park Service, ‘setting refers to the character of the place in which the property played its historical role. It involves how, not just where, the property is situated and its relationship to surrounding features and open space.’ And the setting of the Stemmer House and the whole Caves Valley Historic District is at stake with this development project.

Now the fate of this historic property and historic district is in the hands of Baltimore County Administrative Law Judge John Beverungen.