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May 30, 2023

Officials celebrate preservation center’s progress, await next step

Credit: Frederick News Post

Preservation is a mix of modern techniques and old practices, said Moss Rudley, superintendent of the National Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick.

In a few years, Rudley’s facility is expected to move out of its old downtown facility and into a new, larger facility on the west side of the city, after receiving congressional approval earlier this year.

On Tuesday, the center hosted a tour for public officials to show off the old facility and talk about the advantages that a new facility would provide.

The training center is “one of the best-kept secrets” of the National Park Service, said Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor, who attended Tuesday’s event along with U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland; U.S. Rep. David Trone, D-District 6; Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater, D; and Frederick County Council President Brad Young, D.

The center teaches the philosophy of preservation, as well as building crafts, technology and project management skills for the service’s staff to maintain and preserve NPS facilities across the country.

In one part of the training center’s Commerce Street facility, doors from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery sit waiting to be repaired. In another room, a window sash from the White House that dates back to the early 1800s waits to be repainted.

The Park Service is responsible for maintaining the exteriors of the White House and the areas surrounding it, said Brandon Gordon, the center’s deputy superintendent.

As part of the federal fiscal 2023 omnibus budget bill, Congress gave approval to the National Park Service to purchase up to 20 acres of land for an expanded center.

“It’s been a long battle, but we’re there,” said Trone, who secured the funding for the new center in the spending bill.

The new center is expected to be on a parcel along Butterfly Lane in Frederick’s Westside Regional Park.

But while the process has begun, further steps need to fall into place.

The congressional authorization gives the Park Service the ability to buy the land — the amount of the appropriation is still to be determined, Rudley said — but funding will still need to be secured to build the new center itself.

There are several different sources from which funding could come, Van Hollen said.

Nick Redding, the president and CEO of Preservation Maryland, said his organization coordinates with the center for jobs in the historic trades.

“There’s a huge workforce component to everything that’s happening here,” Redding said.

The county is very excited about the workforce element of the new center, Fitzwater said.

Being home to the center illustrates the county’s rich history, but also its bright future, she said.

Rudley said the center is an important part of creating the next generation of workers, and teaching them the skills needed to help preserve the country’s history.

“It starts here. It starts with this vision of a new facility,” he said.