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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Natalie W. Shivers, 06/1979
McComas Institute
Inventory No.: HA-307
Date Listed: 9/8/1980
Location: Singer Road , Benson, Harford County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1867
Description: This one-story frame structure with a gable roof is five bays long and three bays wide. This former schoolhouse stands on a raised stone foundation, faces north, and has a bell cot over the north gable. Windows have 6/6 sash and vertical board shutters with strap hinges. The entrance is in the center bay of the north side, flanked by one window on each side. The double-leaf door with a five-light transom has three molded panels in each door, of which the top panel is arched. In the gable is a louvered arched opening framed by a sign bearing the name "McComas Institute" and the date "1867." Both sides have windows in each of the five bays. The south end has an entrance in the west bay, flanked on the east by two windows. The interior consisting of two rooms and a partitioned storage area in the northwest corner is essentially intact. The south room is the larger of the two and has a central stove and chimney, a wooden board ceiling, and plasterboard walls with blackboards. The north room has a stove in the center of the west wall, a wooden board ceiling, and walls of narrow horizontal boards. Door and window trim is plain. Significance: The McComas Institute stands as the single most important landmark in the history of Black education in Harford County, Maryland. Constructed in 1867, this building is one of three schools erected in the area for the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (also known as the Freedmen's Bureau) after the Civil War. McComas Institute is the only one, however, to remain intact. The other two schools were Berkeley (Hosanna), near Darlington, which has been drastically remodeled, and Greenspring (Hopewell) at Wesbster, which was burned in 1926 (reputedly by the Ku Klux Klan).


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