What's In A Name?
In 1990, Sykesville had only one park: Millard Cooper Park. Citing the need for greater green space and recreation opportunities, the town has since required new builders to reserve space for public recreation which is deeded to the town upon completion of each new development. SPARC (Sykesville Parks and Recreation Commission) first met in March of 1992 to discuss development of parkland in our quickly expanding town.
Although most of our town's parks appeared in the 1990s, they remained officially nameless until a 2003 public name search survey. Thanks to the federal Project Open Space, many of our parks received major facelifts in 2004 and thanks to that ongoing program have remained periodically upgraded since then.
For more information about amenities, check out the SPARC website at https://www.townofsykesville.org/2151/Sykesville-Parks
Millard Cooper Park
Often Just referred to as "Cooper Park," the town dedicated this park July 30, 1983, to police officer Maynard Millard Cooper "for his unselfish devotion to the Town of Sykesville."
The large tree slice featured in the park is from a Sugar Maple thought to have been planted in 1904 at the opening of Springfield Hospital. The town installed and dedicated new trees and the slice of the original tree on April 6, 2003 as part of Thelma Wimmer Day events.
This park has seen major upgrades in 2004, 2019, and 2021 and is the center of most Sykesville Parks and Recreation Events.
Left Photo: Millard Cooper Park
c. 1986 after regrading, well before
the playground equipment
along Cooper Drive was installed.
Right: Thelma Wimmer at the tree
replanting ceremony, 2003
Little Sykes Railway Park
Purchased in 1999, the train in this park was made in 1949 and is modeled after the B&O railroad F-3 diesel engine. In 2022 this park was updated with a new garden space and barn quilt.
Photo: Richard Doxen constructs the Engine House July 2000
Harold Burkett Park
In the 1980s, Sykesville faced an ongoing struggle with homelessness head-on. Harold Burkett, along with other volunteers within the town, helped establish and operate the County food bank out of the Town House kitchen. Demand quickly outpaced the capability of the space, and the operation was moved to Westminster where it still operates today.
Originally known as the Autumn Sky Tot Lot, this park was renamed in 2003 to commemorate Suzannah and Jemimah Beach, who taught at the Springfield Institute--Sykesville's first organized school--at the end of the 19th century.
The first principal of Springfield Institute had been Rev. Charles Beach (father of Suzannah and Jemimah) who served the Springfield Presbyterian Church from 1878-1881. Originally operating as a private day school in the Sunday School room on the first floor of the church building, a purpose-built home (completed 1882--Seen in the picture at left) for the school once stood on the opposite corner of the church from Spout Hill Road. In 1881, Charles died from tuberculosis and his wife, Mrs. Frances Coleman Beach became principal of the school.
From 1878-1886, the school had an annual enrollment of about 45-50 students, but closed after S.W. Beach, son of Charles and Frances, moved to a parish in New Jersey, and daughter/teacher Annie Lee Beach became engaged. The building briefly served as a hotel space (as was common in the summers in Sykesville at the time) and reopened in the fall of 1886 under the leadership of Rev. P.P. Flourney. The School continued to operate until 1900 when Sykesville School (Present Day Sykesville Middle School) was well established as a free public alternative.
Lexington Run Park and Shannon Run Park
Lexington Run (formerly Jennifer Way Playground) and Shannon Run ( both the park and development are named after the adjacent creek) informally existed as tot lots in the 1980s and were renamed in 2003.
Beginning in the early 1960s, suburbanization created numerous neighborhoods usually located on or near major transportation routes. The 1964 creation of the Sykesville Bypass, and Obrecht Road's proximity to 97 allowed for easy commuting to Baltimore, Washington, Columbia and other major job sites. Between 1951 and 1981 Maryland's population grew more than eightfold, and by 1970, for the first time, there were more people living in suburban areas than in the cities.
Sykesville Linear Trail
In the 1980s, the Linear Trail originated as an idea to connect the parkland between Hawk Ridge Farms and Shannon Run subdivisions. The goal, undertaken in phases, was to create a trail stretching from Obrecht Road down to the Patapsco River, in what was envisioned in the 1990s as "Riverview." The trail met this goal in the early 2000s, and planning postulated the idea of extending this path to Freedom Park, an idea that is now reflected, in a way, as part of the plans ongoing Bicycle and Pedestrian development plan (2021).
Photo: Bloomfield Manor's spring house (Seen here from the back) is located along the Linear Trail.
Located on the site of Bloomfield Manor, a farm which formerly encompassed over 100 acres, this park sits near the still-extant historical home At Obrect Rd. and Third Avenue which has been known as Bloomfield since at least 1870.
At the end of the 19th century, Bloomfield changed hands several times when a neighbor, Frank B. Beasman (owner of the adjacent Fairhaven Farms) expanded his dairy to include the Bloomfield property. In 1967, former Sykesville Mayor, R. Earl Carter, recognizing the historical significance of Bloomfield, purchased the home. Some time after, the property fell into disrepair, and was purchased by the Town of Sykesville. By 1990 the Town planned to sell the site, containing about two of its once over one hundred and forty acres when former Sykesville Mayor Jonathan Herman renovated the property to facilitate its preservation as a historical structure and assist the town in its sale.
Until 2003, this park was known as "Wimmer/Talon Open Space," and was broadly tied to the ongoing effort to expand the Sykesville Linear Trail. The spring house building (renovated 1998) along the Linear Trail once serviced Bloomfield Manor.
Old Main Line Park
Located in downtown Sykesville, Old Main Line park commemorates the Baltimore and Ohio railroad line which runs within site of the park. The B&O railroad incorporated in 1828 and reached Sykesville by 1831. George Patterson, resident of Sykesville was a founding board member of the B&O railroad.
The Centennial Fountain located in this park was first turned on May 1, 2004. The nearby Old Main Line Visitor Center and Post Office is a reconstruction of the railroad switching tower originally located near Penn Station in Baltimore which opened in this location in 2003.
Photo: Jim Purman (Gate House Curator) at the fountain dedication.
Inset photo: Old Main Line building grand opening
South Branch Park
Located on the Howard County side of the Patapsco River, South Branch Park stands as the entryway to downtown Sykesville. In the 1830s, James Sykes (namesake of the Town of Sykesville) purchased and developed much of the land and structures just South of the Patapsco River from his business partner, George Patterson. Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) railway service to Sykesville began in 1831, and the town quickly became associated with Syke's hotel, mill, and other businesses located near the tracks.
The buildings and properties of this area changed hands several times in the 1850s through the early 20th century, eventually belonging to Wade H.D. Warfield who changed the face of the town by adding the Warfield Building, the Arcade Building, and serving as such roles as President of the Sykesville National Bank and later as Maryland Senator.
In 1917 B.F. Schriver purchased the property here from Warfield. Although numerous businesses and homes once stood here, the flood field of the Patapsco washes primarily to this South side of the river, and today the only historical structures are parts of Sykesville Mill (Howard Cotton Factory) and parts of the Apple Butter Factory of the B.F. Shriver Cannery. The cannery's buildings include a brick warehouse (originated 1917, ceiling raised and other adaptations 1936), a wooden water tank and its concrete block pumphouse, a stone home (c.1870, probably a factory-owned building where an employee lived), and a truck scale house (c 1930s-40s).
Around the end of WWII, the plant changed hands to A.H.Renehan and Son and was run as an apple butter factory. In 1989 J.Thomas Scrievner purchased the property and sold it the following year to Tisano Realty, where it was used for Sunlight Manufacturing branded patio enclosures In the 1970s and 80s, this site was home to several bars including Suzie's and Duke's.
In September of 1991, the Government of Howard County bought the remaining businesses in the area with the intention of creating a ten acre park. The Town of Sykesville leased the park in 2007 at the cost of $1 per year for 35 years and spent the next two years renovating the buildings within the park.
Carrie Dorsey Park
Sykesville's Newest Park originated as Warfield Park, named after Wade H.D. Warfield, an affluent and influential citizen of Sykesville who--amongst other ventures--ran the bank on Main Street which still bears his name in stone. A walking path from Millard Cooper Park was added in fall of 2008, but the park remained under this name for another decade.
In 2018, the Town rededicated Warfield Park to the memory of Carrie Dorsey, an African American woman who raised twelve children in Sykesville. Carrie Dorsey was the daughter of former slave Catherine "Kitty" Fletcher (who likely was the daughter of her owner, Isaac Anderson) and John Dorsey. Carrie lived her life as her aunt and mother: surviving on her home learning about midwifery and healing. Carrie and her eleven siblings grew up in a four-room house in Cooksville near Bushy Park with no formal education. After her marriage at age sixteen, Carrie used knowledge passed down from her aunt and mother about midwifery and healing to support her family. The Dorseys lived in the black community along Oklahoma Road in Sykesville. Carrie's twelve children attended the segregated school there (preserved now as The Colored School House), and later a larger segregated school in Johnsville, which was also a black community at the time.
The rededication of this park was inspired by the ambition of Carrie's son, Warren Dorsey, who overcame adversity in segregated communities and places of learning within this community and others to achieve the status of Elementary School Principal and lived to be over 100 years old.
The Jones Sisters, or "Trois Soeurs," Ida, Elsie, and Fanny Jones created colorized photography in the mid-20th century. The sisters photographed local farms and sites, producing an art book entitled Maryland History through The Camera's Eye (1944). The sisters' family home sits nearby on Springfield Avenue and also served as a studio called "Sunnie Holme Studio." The sisters never married, but the legacy of their art and storytelling helped permanently preserve this era in the life of the Town of Sykesville.