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Catoctin Furnace Historical Society receives $90,000 grant

(7/25) On July 6, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority voted to approve more than $1.4 million in funding for heritage tourism projects across the state. Of the 34 projects funded in this competitive state program, four organizations in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area will receive grants for the 2018 fiscal year. One of these four organizations lies right in Thurmont, as the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society will receive $90,000 for development of the Museum of the Ironworker at Cunningham Falls State Park.

Although the building is owned by the State of Maryland, CFHS recently obtained a twenty-year lease on it in December 2016. Until recently, the building was used as a hikers' cabin for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. During this time upkeep and routine maintenance were neglected, and the building is badly in need of urgent rehabilitation.

In response to the dire need for maintenance, The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc., (CFHS) decided to rehabilitate the circa 1820 stone worker's cottage at 12610 Catoctin Furnace Road and turn it into the Museum of the Ironworker. Not only will this preserve the building and give it the much-needed attention, but it will transform it into a museum showcasing on of Thurmontís pieces of rich history.

This project will include the rehabilitation of the historic cottage in order to make it safe and compliant with modern building codes. The leaking 100+-year-old roof will be replaced, new electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and temperature and humidity control systems will be installed, and insulation will be installed throughout the entire building. CFHS will also design, fabricate, and install exhibits that tell the story of the workers who powered the historic iron forge at Catoctin Furnace from 1776 to 1903.

In order to complete this project, CFHS will partner with Silver Oak Academy, a nearby residential high school licensed by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services serving at-risk young men, the Frederick County Public School SUCCESS program, and Johns Hopkins University to provide work opportunities and job skills. CFHS will provide vocational and educational training to these students while benefiting from the labor and work. The end goal is to teach restoration skills and local history to students while providing CFHS with space to display our ever-growing collection of historical artifacts as well as specially-designed museum displays. An official start date has yet to be officially announced, but hopefully, pending final approvals, work may begin in the fall of this year.

In addition to this project grant, the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area was awarded grants totaling $145,000 for management and marketing of the heritage area. For each of these grants, state support is matched dollar for dollar with other funding. The total investment leveraged by these MHAA grants awarded exceeds $471,500.

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