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Swains Lockhouse showcases the Historic Preservation Training Center’s passion for history and craftsmanship

There’s a lot of love going into the Swains Lockhouse rehabilitation. It comes from the C&O Canal Trust that chose the Swains home for their newest Canal Quarters guest house, and it comes from the National Park Service (NPS) that is pouring its resources into interpreting the home as it appeared in 1916. The result will be an experience that Canal Quarters guests will cherish forever.

The Historic Preservation Training Center near Frederick, MD.

The Historic Preservation Training Center near Frederick, MD.

At the heart of the project is the NPS’s Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC). Fittingly, the training center is administratively headquartered in a restored 1870s mansion in nearby Frederick, Maryland. The HPTC provides a variety of preservation services for park structures across the nation. The center is also a training facility for NPS maintenance and other employees who work with historic buildings. Window and plaster workshops, log repair, and documentation instruction are just a few of the activities conducted by the HPTC.

Transformations of historic proportions

Becky Cybularz is an historical architect with the HPTC and in charge of the rehabilitation design of Swains Lockhouse.

“The center’s work is so interesting because many of our projects are often period restorations,” explains Becky, “meaning we’re using special techniques to achieve the historic appearance of these structures to their period of significance. Antietam Battlefield is a great example. Not only are we restoring structures as they appeared in the 1800s, but the way they looked on the exact date of the battle—September 17, 1862.”

A careful, caring rehabilitation at Lockhouse 21

Swains Lockhouse will be interpreted as it appeared in 1916, during the final years the C&O Canal was in operation. The year is significant because it is when the National Park Service was created—100 years ago.

Preliminary drawings for Swains Lockhouse have been completed (see last week’s post!).

Cybularz will provide a more detailed rendering of the building’s two floors that will provide all of the home’s structural detail, including electrical, plumbing, mechanical, floor structure, and roof.

Drawings will be handed off to the HPTC’s carpentry, masonry, and other specialty sections to carry out the work on Swains. Most of the work on the rehab of Swains Lockhouse will be completed by crafts people within the HPTC and the National Park Service. It is truly a labor of love.


Swains Lockhouse will be the seventh Canal Quarters guesthouse to welcome guests from Brookmont to Clear Spring. Next week we’ll take a closer look at these great opportunities to experience life as it was in 1916 on the C&O Canal. See the post here.