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Old buildings can be gorgeous. Back in the days they were made, builders took great care and great pride to ensure their products would withstand the test of time.

There wasn’t so much mass production of homes as there is today.

Old homes often have beautiful woodwork, made out of real wood. The door frames are wide and fit together perfectly. You can find built-in cabinets made of tough lumber. The roofs, made of slate, can withstand just about any kind of weather.

My parents’ house was built in 1928, and it has some of the most beautiful cabinets and woodworking I’ve seen.

But old homes have their own set of problems, and they constantly need work.

When my parents bought the house more than 20 years ago, and before we moved in, they redid the bathrooms upstairs. Why? Because the floor was sloping. Why? Because they were made of concrete. Why? Who knows.

The plaster walls in the house are showing signs of wear. In my old room, the attic, the ceiling and the walls are cracking. In the basement, the plaster is peeling.

The roof, for all intents and purposes, is holding up well.

It has needed some work over the years, and my parents have done it, but it can be an expensive prospect if time isn’t so good to it, and if regular upkeep isn’t done.

That’s why the Army is looking for someone to take over care of the Mitchell House on Aberdeen Proving Ground. Built in 1905, it’s even older than my parents house. And given its uses over the years — office space, a visitors center and a natural history exhibit space — I’m sure the house has been through its fair share of wear and tear.

I’ve only seen the outside of the house the two times I’ve played Ruggles Golf Course. It’s a stately old home that back in its heyday was a grand old house. I’ve never seen the inside, but I’d like to.

Talk about potential. If the right person comes along and chooses the right project, the Mitchell House could become the mansion it once was.

Ruggles already has a clubhouse, but why not make the Mitchell House the focal point of the golf course. Move the pro shop and the restaurant there, where people can relax in a warm, inviting atmosphere. Let people who use Ruggles get a glimpse of the historic house that was a gift from Malcolm Mitchell to his son and daughter-in-law that eventually became part of APG. They can sit in the restaurant, looking out the tall windows and imagining the golf course as the farm land it once was. Where the Mitchell family ran its canning operation.

“We are not going to turn it into an amusement park and we are not going to let somebody gut it or take it for pieces. We certainly are willing to entertain proposals from businesses, individuals, what have you, doing what they can to make it functional,” George Mercer, a spokesman for APG, said.

It would be a shame to see such a beautiful piece of history demolished. Hopefully someone will step up before the Army has to resort to that.


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