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The Hays-Heighe House has been a part of the campus of Harford Community College (HCC) in Bel Air for sixty years, yet it was only in June 2010, that the historic building was partially restored and fully renovated to realize its full potential to serve the campus and the public. The House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the first building in Harford County to be awarded this distinction. Since June 2010 the House has been used as a public history space, with a mission to showcase the social and cultural history of Harford County through exhibits and inclusive programming.

Although other structures on the property (such as barns) that were built prior to the construction of the College are no longer in place, the historic springhouse remains. The springhouse was built in the early 1800s but by 2004 was much in need of repair. During 2004-2005, then HCC faculty member Rhonda Deeg and students in the Building Preservation and Restoration academic program shored up one wall that was sagging badly and restored the slate roof along with the roof structure.

During 2016, additional work was performed on the structure to stabilize it and to allow it to be viewed safely by the campus community and the general public. In April 2016, a permanent drainage system was installed to drain the flooded springhouse, which allowed contractors to clean and repair/preserve the existing stone walls. The spring was sunk into drain tile through the springhouse and diverted to flow directly into the nearby spring. The surrounding landscape was altered to reduce the incursion of surface water into the springhouse.

In May 2016, the oak roofing system was preserved and missing roof slate was replaced. Extensive masonry repairs were made when it was discovered that a large tree root had pushed a wall.  Workers unearthed and reset granite steps leading down to the springhouse, which completed prior work done to clear the overgrown area for better visibility and easier access. Much needed improvements were made to allow better access to and around the springhouse, including a placing a layer of washed river stone around two sides of the building, and installing an asphalt walkway to the site.

In August 2016, a shelf to store crockery was reinstalled, spanning the side wall. Crockery was added for historical verisimilitude. While visitors are not able to enter the springhouse (other than through special arrangements for specific purposes), a grillwork gate allows ample visibility of the interior from the doorway. In November 2016, the College installed two exterior signs, providing viewers with information about springhouses generally and about this springhouse specifically.

The purpose for the stabilization work was to provide opportunities for Harford Community College students and the general public to have a glimpse of what life was like during the 1800s and early 1900s.  The stabilized springhouse complements and extends the learning made possible by the renovation/restoration of the Hays-Heighe House itself. Already, two students in the Engineering Technology program at Harford Community College have taken on a project to create a three-dimensional, working model of the springhouse, using 3-D printing technology. Also, a student in HCC’s Mass Communication program used the springhouse as the setting for a class project to film a horror movie. We anticipate many more creative projects that involve the springhouse in the future.

Contractors on the project included Modern Construction from Street, MD to do the work on the building and CD Lawncare from Whiteford, MD to do the cleanup of the trees and brush. Lou Claypoole, Manager for Special Projects at Harford Community College, and Steve Garey, Associate Vice President for Campus Operations at the College, oversaw the project.

To celebrate the completion of the springhouse stabilization project, the Hays-Heighe House reinstalled its June 2016 exhibit titled Made By Hand and scheduled a series of lectures and other programs related to the restoration of historic properties.  The programs included a lecture by Meg Algren, Ph.D., on “Common Plants Around Springhouses;” a slide show and talk by local historians Henry C. Peden, Jr. and Jack L. Shagena, Jr. on “Springhouses of Harford County;” a Restoration Trades Expo (led by Rhonda Deeg); a talk by Hays-Heighe House Coordinator Julie Mancine on the history of the property; and a lecture by staff from Preservation Maryland on “Historical Buildings: Preserve, Restore or Adaptively Re-use?”

The Hays-Heighe House is located on the campus of Harford Community College, at 401 Thomas Run Road, Bel Air, Maryland 21015. The House Coordinator can be reached at 443.412.2495 or at haysheighe@harford.edu.

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