These archaeological discoveries put the spotlight on a dimly illuminated part of Cecil County’s history as our written record here is strong so we know lots about that extended period. But in earlier times, as the manuscripts grow weaker, we have to depend on archeology to help puzzle out the past. So whenever a contractor starts digging deep into the earth in some of the oldest parts of the county seat, one has to wonder what’s being unearthed. Some of those discarded materials would help us solve historical mysteries since our soil is crammed with lots of artifacts that have been buried for centuries.
The exposure of some fascinating architectural elements of a building being demolished this past week at 124 and 124 ½ E. Main Street is what brought this subject up. The frame commercial, vernacular structure that stood on the property circa 1880, replaced a much earlier building. Once it was torn
down, some below Main Street elements became visible from Howard Street. On the west side of the frontage lot was an attractive arched brick structure, which probably supported something heavy such as a multistory fireplace, from an earlier period (see photo). On the east side was another
opening under Main Street.
A few weeks ago, unidentified town officials decided to rush through the governmental bureaucracy a request to tear down the late 19th century vernacular structure, bypassing the town’s procedural requirements. As it turned out in this instance, just as it has in other cases, the decision to ignore municipal regulations simply made it far more complicated than necessary. Officials
had to stop the contractor’s work so everyone could back up and go through the regulatory steps enumerated by Elkton ordinances. When they stepped back to address the requirements, the historic district board approved the demolition in a split vote, only requiring that an “attractive fence” be installed on Main Street as it was unclear what the future held for the parcel.