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Keyword: historic preservation

Teri Rising, Preservation Planner
Baltimore County Office of Planning

photo of the restored bridgeIf your travels don’t normally take you across the newly restored Jericho Covered Bridge on Jericho Road in Kingsville, it’s worth a special trip to see this beautiful landmark and to visit the historic Jerusalem Mill Village. The Jericho Road Covered Bridge, jointly owned by Baltimore and Harford Counties, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 13, 1978 and the Baltimore County Landmarks List on October 31, 1978.  It was among the first group of landmarks to be designated by the newly created Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission.  While Maryland has a significant collection of historic bridges representing multiple eras of construction, the Jericho Road Covered Bridge is the only covered bridge surviving in Baltimore and Harford Counties and one of a handful remaining in the state. 

Constructed in 1865, the bridge is significant as the last such span in either Baltimore or Harford Counties and its basic structure is an authentic survivor of the 19th century horse-drawn era. Historic documentation suggests that it may have been built to provide a free crossing by avoiding area toll roads like the Joppa Rolling Road (since renamed Bradshaw Road) and the Jerusalem Pike or Philadelphia Turnpike. 

The earliest bridges in the County were often constructed and maintained by local landowners at their own expense or by turnpike companies.  As the road system grew, Baltimore County systematically funded the construction of many bridges, often replacing crude wood bridges or bridges damaged by flood or fire. Citizens of both Baltimore and Harford Counties had been asking the Baltimore County Commissioners to fund a bridge crossing over the Little Gunpowder Falls for some time. Following the presentation of petitions filed on behalf of residents from both counties, a bill was passed on March 4, 1864. The winning bridge proposal was for a Burr arch through truss bridge, named for design inventor, Theodore Burr of Pennsylvania, who patented the support design in 1804.  The bridge was completed by December of 1865 under the supervision of Thomas F. Forsyth. 

photo of ribbon-cuttingThe recently unveiled $1.7 million restoration represents a multiyear effort undertaken with the cooperation of Federal, State and local government agencies, engineers and preservationists who had the challenging task of balancing transportation requirements, funding availability and historic preservation goals in the early project planning stages.   The bridge had previously undergone two substantial rehabilitations in the mid 1930’s and 1982, but some of the later work was not sensitive to some historic elements.

The County Department of Public Works carefully planned and performed this most recent restoration so that the historic features and character of the bridge were revealed, retained and preserved.  The result of this combined effort is a careful and historically sensitive restoration that returned the bridge to its 1930’s era appearance.

Sources consulted:

John McGrain, “Jericho Covered Bridge: BA-361”, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, (July, 1977)

John McGrain, The Molinography of Maryland: a tabulation of mills, furnaces, and primitive industries [Maryland State Archives, 2007]

William Hollifield, Difficulties Made Easy: History of the Turnpikes of Baltimore City and County.  [Cockeysville, MD: Baltimore County Historical Society, 1978]

Louis Berger & Associates and P.A.C. Spero & Company, “Historic Highway Bridges In Maryland: 1631-1960, Historic Context Report”, (Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration, October, 1995)

“Covered Bridge, Jericho Road spanning Little Gunpowder Falls, Jerusalem, Baltimore County, MD.”, Survey (photographs, measured drawings, written historical and descriptive data), Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1977. From Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (HABS MD, 13-JERU.V, 1-  accessed April 5, 2016).

Jack L. Shagena, Jr., Jerusalem, A Preserved Mill Village, [Baltimore, MD: Jack L. Shagena Jr., 2007]

Sia, Richard H. P. "’Bridge to Past' Near Kingsville Reopens." The Sun (1837-1990), Jul 02, 1983. 1,

Teri Rising, Historic Preservation Planner
Baltimore County Department of Planning

If you have ever visited the Baltimore County Council Chambers in the Historic Courthouse, you may have been intrigued by the handsome sculptures of historic figures that line the mahogany walls.

photo of Council ChamberThe sculpture subjects span the millennia - representing a sampling of people who have influenced human law throughout history. Some highlights include the Babylonian ruler, Hammurabi, who created one of the first known codes of law; Chinese philosopher Confucius; Moses who presented the Ten Commandments; King John, signer of the Magna Carta; 18th century English lawmaker, William Blackstone and many more. You can read brief write-ups about these influential leaders on the County Planning Office website at (Just scroll down to the “Lawgivers” section.)

A “Temple of Justice for all Admirers to See”

Here’s some interesting background on how these esteemed gentlemen came to reside in the County’s Historic Courthouse…

On October 19, 1854, Coleman Yellott told the crowd gathered to witness the laying of the cornerstone for the new courthouse at Towsontown that he hoped it would always stand as a temple of justice for all admirers to see.[1] When the courthouse was expanded in 1958, the judges of the Baltimore County Circuit Court may have had this idea in mind when they commissioned a series of sculptures called “The Lawgivers” to occupy the mahogany walls of their new main courtroom. 

Shortly after Towsontown was officially chosen to serve as the County Seat, work began on the necessary courthouse. Designed by Dixon and Baldwin, Baltimore County held its first session of court on January 5, 1857. Along with the courtrooms, the three County Commissioners occupied an office space measuring 17 feet by 25 feet. As the County grew, the need for government staff and services increased. To meet the demand, additions were made to the courthouse in 1910, 1925 and 1958.[2]

The 1958 addition included 3 large courtrooms which were considered to be the most modern and spacious in Maryland.  The main courtroom was designed to have a capacity of 120 seats, a far different setting than the original Courtroom Number 5, which had long served the needs of the County’s judicial system.  Designed by the architectural firm Gaudreau and Gaudreau, the main courtroom featured a series of twelve carved figures called “The Lawgivers.” The figures were those who influenced our present day concepts about law and justice and included well known men like Confucius and Caesar.  Carved over a four month period by Baltimore County resident Matthew Peloso, each wood figure is 32 inches high, 2 inches thick and 10 inches wide.[3]  Peloso, who studied for 6 years at the Maryland Institute College of Art, previously worked as a model maker for Black and Decker.  He also designed life-sized figures for the Smithsonian Institution and eventually joined the Engraving Department of the United States Mint where he designed many medals and coins.[4] 

When Charter Government was adopted in 1957, it meant that legislative space for the newly elected 7 member Baltimore County Council needed to be found.  Originally housed in the County Office Building on Chesapeake Avenue, space eventually became available for the Council in the old Courthouse when the Court Building on Bosley Avenue was constructed. In 1975, as part of an extensive renovation of the 2nd floor of the old Courthouse, the main courtroom was reconfigured to serve the needs of the Baltimore County Council.[5]  While some changes were made to the space, “The Lawgivers” continue to silently watch over the affairs of the Baltimore County government at work as they have for more than fifty years. 

Click here to learn more about the men chosen for the carvings.

[1]Coleman Yellot Esq, “Address” (upon the Occasion of the Laying of the Corner-Stone of the Court House of Baltimore County at Towsontown, Towson, MD, October 19, 1854).
[2]Morris L. Radoff. The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland. Part One: The Courthouses. Publication No. 12. Annapolis, MD: The Hall of Records Commission, 1960.
[3]“County Adds 3 Large, Modern Courtrooms,” Baltimore Evening Sun, October 6, 1958.
[4]Q David Bowers, “Appendix I” in Commemorative Coins of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia (Wolfeboro, NH: Bowers and Merena Galleries, ©1991), 14, accessed May 21, 2015,
[5]Tom Linthicum and Steven M. Luxenberg, “Councilmen to Get Offices in Towson,” Sun Baltimore, Maryland, February 28, 1975, TOM LINTHICUMSTEVEN, M. L. (1975, Feb 28). Councilmen to get offices in towson. The Sun (1837-1989) Retrieved from

Land Preservation Commitment is State and National Model

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced today that the County’s land preservation program has been recognized for its achievements and recertified for three years, allowing the County to retain the lion’s share of local agricultural land transfer fees to invest in land preservation.

The State Rural Legacy Program has also awarded funding to two Baltimore County land trusts and Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation made easement offers to seven Baltimore County farms.

"Preserving rural land in Baltimore County continues to provide many benefits to the citizens of the County. From maintaining a source of local food, to preserving forests that enhance the water quality of our drinking water reservoirs, to reducing the cost of sprawl, Baltimore County remains a national leader in land preservation,” said Kamenetz.

Under Kamenetz, County Has Invested $9.7 Million, Preserved Nearly 5,000 Acres

The State recognized the success of the County’s land preservation strategy that combines restrictive zoning with a growth boundary and acquisition of easements. Since entering office, County Executive Kamenetz has maintained his commitment to land preservation with a total of 4,867 acres preserved in the past five years moving the County closer to its goal of 80,000 acres. For the past five years the County has preserved almost six acres for each acre converted to development.

In approving the County’s request for recertification, the Maryland Department of Planning recognized that even though it is the third most populous jurisdiction in Maryland, Baltimore County has set aside more than 135,000 acres – one third of the County – for agriculture, forestry and open space. Baltimore County has placed 62,828 acres under easement and is ranked first among counties for Maryland Environmental Trust donated easements, third for Rural Legacy and fourth for agricultural easements.

Only 2 Percent of Permit Requests in Protected Agricultural Areas Approved

Over the reporting period, Fiscal Year 2012 to 2014, the County approved only 2 percent of all new permits within the 135,000 acres designated as Agricultural Preservation Area. It retained its protective agricultural zoning and committed $9.7 million of county funds for land preservation during this period.

Carol West, Executive Director of Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation praised the County’s work saying, “The MALPF Board of Trustees and the Maryland Department of Planning were pleased to recertify Baltimore County for another three years. Recertification allows the County to retain more of their agricultural transfer taxes to be used for preservation in any of the many active programs within the County. They continue to demonstrate their commitment to the preservation of farmland and support of farmers in the County. They have committed more funds for the current acquisition than any other county.”  

“I am very pleased that the County is partnering with the State to preserve farmland and open space — one of the best ways to protect our water quality,” said County Council Chair Cathy Bevins.

$3.8 Million in State Funding For Preservation of 1,000 Acres

Subject to Board of Public Works approval, the State Rural Legacy Program has awarded $1.1 million to two Baltimore County Land Trusts. These awards were out of a total of $10 million statewide, for which there were 26 applications. These land trusts will seek to preserve land as soon as the funding receives final approval. The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation Board of Trustees approved an allocation of $2.63 million in state funds, and, with $1.3 million in County matching funds, they made offers to seven farms, subject to Board of Public Works and County Council approvals. Preservation from these two programs is expected to protect 1,000 acres of rural land in the County.

"We greatly appreciate the continued support by the State, County Executive and County Council for farmers seeking to permanently preserve their farmland," said Gail Ensor, Chairperson of the Baltimore County Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board. "Farming, and the many agriculture related industries, are an important part of the County's economy as well as a key component of the rural landscape.”

Land Preservation Has Moved to Promote Better Coordination

The County’s Land Preservation function has recently been relocated to the Department of Planning. This has created the opportunity to better integrate land preservation with land use planning. It has also provided the opportunity to make its programs more consistent with the County’s Historic Preservation program, which is also housed in Planning. “We are pleased to have the land preservation program in Planning where we can integrate many of its functions into rural planning. We are especially pleased to work with the dedicated Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board,” said Planning Director Andrea Van Arsdale.

Find Out How to Preserve Your Rural Land

Information is available on applying to donate or sell an easement.

Revised September 26, 2016