EASTON — Waterfowl Chesapeake announced the Maryland Historical Trust has awarded the organization $100,000 from its Historic Preservation Capital Grant Program for the renovation of the windows in the Waterfowl Building in downtown Easton.
Waterfowl Chesapeake is one of only seven award recipients from across the state.
“We are so grateful to MHT for recognizing the historic relevance of our building and its value to the community,” said Executive Director Margaret Enloe. “In addition to being the home base for the Waterfowl Festival for nearly five decades, we’ve increased our rental of the Festival Hall and now host more than a dozen events each year, from camp fairs to fine arts events, making us one of the area’s new leading community venues.
“Our hope is that the restored windows and frames will enhance the beauty of the space and encourage even more people to see us as a gathering place.”
Working closely within MHT guidelines, Waterfowl Chesapeake will hire a contractor specializing in historic restoration. The steel-frame windows will be removed and taken off-site, where they will be carefully dismantled, cleaned, repainted and re-glazed before being reinstalled. Work is expected to start in fall.
The project will proceed in phases to allow Waterfowl Chesapeake’s offices to remain open for business during construction and for the Waterfowl Festival to take place as usual on the second weekend in November. The phased schedule also will ensure other organizations that are renting the Festival Hall can hold events during construction with minimal disturbance.
While the trust’s program allows two years for the restoration to be completed, Waterfowl Chesapeake representatives hope to have the windows done within the next year.
The historic Easton armory, now referred to as the Waterfowl Building, was built in 1927 after several years of lobbying by local residents and elected officials. While its function was to serve as a training facility for Maryland’s state militia, the building’s drill hall, now called Festival Hall, also served as a community gathering place for everything from boxing matches and basketball games to flower shows, poultry exhibitions and art festivals over the decades. Waterfowl took ownership of the building in the 1980s, after a stint of ownership by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Town of Easton.
“We think the Waterfowl Building is a gem on this end of downtown and want to do everything to make it shine brightly as a gathering place for our local organizations and groups on the Mid-Shore,” Enloe said.