Historic Easton, Inc. and the Trustees of Asbury United Methodist Church are delighted to announce the first construction phase to rehabilitate and stabilize the prominent, historically significant steeple structure of the church. After many years of planning, restoration work at Asbury United Methodist Church at 18 S. Higgins Street began March 21st with the general contractor setting up to begin work. Yerkes Construction Co. of Chestertown MD is the contractor and the architectural firm is Encore Sustainable Design, LLC of Easton.
Stabilization will address the steeple roofing, belfry floor, steeple structural repairs, steeple trim repairs, round window repair, and a new front door. This work is expected to take about three months to complete. Ward Bucher of Encore Design said, “Thanks to Historic Easton, the restoration of this iconic landmark will be a catalyst for further neighborhood improvements”.
When Jay Yerkes was asked about his involvement in this project he said “Asbury Church restoration is a special project to our company and to me personally. I could feel the history and the energy the minute I first approached the building. Particularly, when you scale the staircase and see the sun beaming through the historic stained glass without being able to see the changing times of the outside in detail, you can be taken into a past time. We are honored to be part of this incredible and very real preservation for brothers and sisters of the future to feel the same impact I felt immediately”
Rehabilitation of the church is funded by a grant from the Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture. The Maryland Historical Trust oversees the grant. The project is the first major capital investment in support of the larger Hill Community Project Small Area Plan, an effort to revitalize the neighborhood based on community input. Sixteen homes are eventually to be restored and sold for homeownership.
At the Maryland Black History Program held in Easton on February 27th, Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford announced full funding for rehabilitation of the Civil War and Buffalo Soldiers House at the corner of Higgins and South Streets, a project within view of Asbury church. The house will also add to homeownership in the neighborhood. Work on the house is anticipated to begin in the second quarter of 2016, said Don Bibb of the Housing Authority of Talbot County. The Town of Easton is adding to spring blooming on The Hill with historically appropriate rehabilitation work on three houses beginning with one across South Street from the Civil War and Buffalo Soldiers House.
Restoration of the culturally and historically significant structures complements the last five years of archaeological research that has been conducted within The Hill neighborhood. Archeologists with the University of Maryland have been digging in Easton’s The Hill community since about 2010 to uncover the community’s history and heritage. A permanent walking tour, Archaeology on The Hill written by University of Maryland archaeologist Tracy Jenkins and designed by Easton’s nationally acclaimed exhibit designer Pat Rogan of the firm assemble, inc.
The walking tour will be officially introduced at Historic Easton’s Annual Meeting on April 21st at 4PM. It was produced by Historic Easton, Inc. with funding support from the Talbot County Tourism Office and the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area of the Maryland Heritage Area Authority. Tour ribbon-cutting will begin at the Talbot Tourism Office on 11 S. Harrison Street and will end at Asbury Church at 18 S Higgins Street with refreshments and a presentation of church renovations in progress. The public is welcome.