Bladensburg’s historic Bostwick House, which was still awaiting repairs caused by an earthquake last year, now has more damage to address in the wake of the intense storms that hit the town.
The June 22 microburst, a short storm that brought intense wind rain and hail to portions of Prince George’s County, caused windows to break at the Bostwick House, among other damages, and knocked over trees and damaged grave markers at Evergreen Cemetery, a Bladensburg site that holds hundreds of graves, some dating back to the 1700s, according to officials. The storm Friday only made matters worse.
“It’s a structure that stood 250 years,” Town Clerk Patricia McAuley said of the Bostwick House. “This is the first documented weather event that I’ve known of that’s happened to the site.”
Bostwick House and its surrounding property at 3901 48th St. have been the site of ongoing repair work and rehabilitation efforts as the town has worked to preserve the home. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake knocked down the house’s chimney in August.
The strong winds from the microburst uprooted trees and blew the brick buttress off the Bostwick home, which was initially built by Charles Lowndes in 1746. The buttress was added to the home by Benjamin Stoddert, the first secretary of the Navy and Lowndes’ son-in-law, to expand the ground floor’s parlor. Winds ripped off the buttress spewing bricks and wooden beams up to 50 feet behind the home, said Sarah Rogers, the interpretation director of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area responsible for planning and designing historic programs.
Rogers and McAuley spent about four hours June 26 putting plastic sheets over eight windows that had been damaged or blown out by the windy weather, Rogers said.
“One of the beauties of an old house is they’ve been around for a long time for a reason,” Rogers said. “There’s really no place to trap or grow mold because they’re built with such simple materials.”
Debris was the primary problem at the Evergreen Cemetery located near the intersection of 52nd and Newton streets. More than 20 trees were knocked down, said Tim McNamara, director of code enforcement and assistant town administrator for Bladensburg. Multiple grave markers are believed to have been damaged, dislodged or possibly destroyed, McNamara said.
Removing the trees from the cemetery grounds create a hassle all its own, town officials said.
“Between the weather and the weight of the equipment we’re bringing in, we don’t want to cave in any of the grave site,” McNamara said.
Town officials were still calculating the cost of fixing both sites. Initial bids to just remove the trees at the house began at $15,000 and similar work at the graveyard was around $50,000, McNamara said. The tree-removal sum doesn’t include the cost of repairs to structures or gravestones.
The town will most likely pay for the repairs, McNamara said.
Even with the burden of fixing the two sites, McNamara maintained a good humor about the cemetery’s situation.
“The only good thing is that none of the people who lived there called to complain,” he said with a laugh.