Home improvements needed at Shaw’s Discovery
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 11:58

Property not expected to be ready by 2014

by Ben Boehl

    As we get closer to the  Bicentennial of the War of 1812, local historians are looking for upgrades to the landmarks in the area.    
    The National Park Service said last September that $96,433 of federal funding will be used for the semantics and construction papers of the project of a battlefield project at the empty field at the intersection of North Point and Trappe roads.
    Upgrades to Battle Acre Park, 300 feet away from the North Point State Battlefield in Charlesmont, are expected as the Maryland General Assembly announced  grant proposal for $750,000 called “Capital Budget Funding for War of 1812 Historic Sites” to improve Battle Acre and other local sites.
    The funding for Battle Acre is not part of a legislative package, but would be part of the state’s budget, which must be approved before the conclusion of the 2013 session. 
    Fran Taylor, a member of the Baltimore County’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee, is confident about Battle Acre, but is worried about another historical landmark that needs a facelift.
    “I think Battle Acre is going to get done, but I’m more concerned about the Shaw (Bauer) House,” Taylor said.
    The Shaw House that Taylor refers to is located on Bauer Farm Road in Edgemere and is the only dwelling on North Point peninsula that remains from the War of 1812.

This Shaw House is not to be confused with the Shaw Foulkes Farmhouse on Foulkes Farm Road in Edgemere. That house was occupied by the British during the War of 1812.
    British Gen. Robert Ross entered that home and took it over from the Shaws during the British invasion of North Point. It is believed that Ross held a staff meeting in the farm house before the Battle of North Point. There is a small cemetery of the family that can be found at that site as well.
    According to the Maryland State Archives website, the Shaw House (also commonly known as the Shaw’s Discovery farmhouse) was built around the turn of the 19th Century. It is a landmark in the area, but Taylor said the house needs repairs.
    “The ultimate goal is to have the house restored,” Taylor said.
    “Our short-time goal is to have the house restablitized and have it protected from vandals and storms.”
    According to old documents on the MSA site, the property was owned by Thomas Knight Smith Shaw, who owned 81 acres of land in the North Point area.
    A house and farm were built on the property by Shaw’s great nephew Thomas Knight Smith Shaw Joyce around 1798.    
    Joyce was there when the British invaded North Point in 1814.  Joyce later sold the property in 1816 to Mary Todd, the wife of Bernard Todd, after the British burned the Todd House in 1814.
    The farm changed hands frequently over the next two centuries. The MSA document noted that Joseph Reynolds bought the property in 1857 and the Reinecke family owned the property from 1881 until the 1940s, when it was taken over by the Bauer family.
    According to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, the Bauer family held on to the property until 2004 when it was purchased by MCS Edgemere, LLC.
    The future of the project remains unknown. Developer Mark Sapperstein now holds the Bauer’s Farm property, and he announced at the North Point Peninsula Council meeting in September that he planned to build 138 to 144 housing units on the property. The Shaw house will remain as a landmark, but Taylor hopes that the house will receive much-needed upgrades.
    Sapperstein was unavailable for comment, but Taylor credits Sapperstein for taking care of the project when asked.
    “We told him about the hole in the roof, and he had that patched up,” Taylor recalls. “He also boarded up the windows.”
    Patricia Bentz of the Baltimore County Historical Trust agreed that Sapperstein has helped the cause, but noted that he has limited money.
    “He is really trying his best,” Bentz said. “He fixed the roof at one time, but it has gotten worse.”
    Taylor and Bentz are not aware of any other damage, as they have not been inside the house, but they assume some damage and hope that the house could receive grant money from the Preservation Alliance of Baltimore County.
    Bentz believes the property can be ready before the bicentennial in 2014, but said a lot must be done before then.
    “I want it stabilized and painted. It should look like it did, even if (tourists) can’t go inside,” Bentz said. “It’s a shame to bring people down here and having the building looking like that.”
    Taylor is not as hopeful. He pointed out that Shaw’s Discovery was once part of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial wish list for improvements back in 2008, but that has changed.
    “I don’t expect it to be ready [by 2014]. It is no longer any part of our plans.”
    Taylor said there has been talk that the Shaw house can become part of North Point State Park.    
    Emily Wilson from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said the agency is hopeful that Sapperstein will find a way to preserve the house, but nothing new has developed in the possibility of the state taking over the house from Sapperstein.
    “We haven’t closed the door, but the house is not on our project list,” Wilson said.