The Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance has been working hard to establish a brand with goals and mission, research the Indiantown area including the African, Native and Colonial stories, and raise enough money to begin the restoration of the brick house at Handsell. Through all this, we have had to do the archaeology ($20,000) and engineering ($18,000) required by the Maryland Historic Trust before we could begin ANY work on the house! Not to mention getting the house listed on the National Register of Historic Places AND the Historic American Buildings Survey (no, sometimes we don’t sleep).
It is important to note that the Board of Trustees has adopted a “Preservation Philosophy” for Handsell. In this we ask two questions before doing any work on the structure:
1) Is this something that must be done to prevent further deterioration to the house”, and
2) Must this work be done for the safety of our visitors and volunteers?
If the answer to either question is YES, then we proceed. Otherwise, we intend to keep the house to “as close as we found it” as possible.
After five years of fundraising, NHPA finally declared 2015 “The Year of the House” and moved forward with the critical structural support of the house by rebuilding the basement fireplace and chimney stack above that was an important structural component to the entire western gable wall. Once that this was complete, all other brick repairs continued on the exterior of the house thanks to Mid Shore Community Foundation, the Nathan Foundation and a MHAA grant. We successfully had ALL the exterior brick repairs complete by the end of 2015.
All of 2016 was focused on the “Handsell Roof Project” and with it brought a new cedar roof and rebuilt dormers and dormer windows thanks to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Bartus Trew grant. Total cost of this important repair was $76,000 and almost completely depleted the Handsell Restoration Fund.
2017 was a year for rebuilding the Restoration Fund, sprucing up anything we could do as volunteers, grant writing, caring for our newly planted trees and more research. The fund grew after a successful Summer Soiree fundraiser ($10,000) to go toward installing historically accurate windows. The Handsell Window Project was fully funded thanks to support from the Mid Shore Community Fund, Preservation Maryland, Nathan Foundation and others.
Next we moved on to the most expensive undertaking to date, $113,000 for the Handsell Entryway Project. Phase I included all basement repairs, new entry steps and Kitchen door. Funded by an MHAA grant, MSCF, Nathan Foundation and our own Soiree funds, this work was completed by the spring of 2020 at which time we launched the exterior front restorations, the Handsell Entryway Project: Phase II.
Phase II of the Entryway Project included the restoration of the front double door and the addition of a replica front porch, based on architectural evidence in the brick work, archaeology to find the original piers and appropriate design for the period of the rebuild of 1837. This again, was accomplished thanks to Preservation Maryland, MHAA and Nathan Foundation grants and completed in the fall of 2021.
Please enjoy the dramatic before and After photographs of the work we have done at Handsell. (just in case you thought we were just sitting around). NHPA is an ALL-Volunteer organization. Except for Insurances, marketing and printing expenses, all your donations go completely to where you want them to go–the restoration of the house, the Chicone Village Project, our educational projects or the African American Research. Please DONATE at the button to the right of this page.
Kitchen Entry NOW: