How to help preserve historic home in one of Maryland’s oldest African-American neighborhoods

The log cabin, which dates to about the 1830s, is part of a bigger effort to revitalize the entire Jonathan Street neighborhood in Hagerstown. (Courtesy Preservation Maryland)

Work is underway to save a nearly 200-year-old home in one of Maryland’s oldest African-American neighborhoods and transform it into affordable housing.

The log cabin, which dates to about the 1830s, sits on North Jonathan Street in Hagerstown.

It’s near two sites known to have been listed in the Green Book — a driver’s guide to Black-owned and Black-friendly businesses during the Jim Crow era.

The home was in danger of being demolished before it was bought by the group Preservation Maryland, which plans to fix it up and then collaborate with Habitat for Humanity to sell it as affordable housing.

The work is part of a bigger effort to revitalize the entire Jonathan Street neighborhood.

Now Elizabeth Finkelstein, the founder of two popular Instagram accounts — CIRCA Old Houses and Cheap Old Houses — has agreed to help with fundraising.

CIRCA sells an enamel lapel pin that says “Save All The Old Houses”, and now through Sept. 18, all proceeds from sales of the $25 pin will be donated to the project.

“We are very supportive of efforts around the nation to preserve and restore African-American history, and we couldn’t be prouder to help drive funds to this compelling and important project,”  said Finkelstein. “Preservation Maryland is taking on a big task, and we’re looking forward to activating our passionate followers to help support this rehab.”

Preservation Maryland formally acquired the home in June and said at the time that it hoped to break ground on the rehabilitation by the end of this year.

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