Old creamery building offers economic potential to Taneytown

The Taneytown creamery building, located behind Country Kitchen on East Baltimore Street, has sat vacant since 2001 when it was last used as a haunted house.

With its windows missing or covered by plywood and Halloween decor painted on its walls, the brick building isn't much to look at today.

But Taneytown officials see something there. They envision the area as a potential economic driver, if it were to be redeveloped properly.

"It could be significant," said Nancy McCormick, the city's economic development director, of the potential impact on the downtown area. "It really, really is a prime site."

Among the potential uses for the area are a community center with meeting space, a retail building, or a low-income senior housing complex, McCormick said.

What the city will do with the old creamery building, including sell it, is expected to be a topic of discussion for the City Council in coming weeks.

A key aspect to those discussions could hinge on whether the city is awarded a grant to pay for the building's demolition.

The city applied for a grant in 2012 that would cover most, if not all, of the cost for demolition of the building.

But the Maryland Historical Trust disqualified Taneytown for the grant.

The trust reviews federal and state grant applicants to determine whether the actions funded by the grant would harm historical resources, according to Jonathan Sager, a preservation officer with the Maryland Historical Trust.

Although the building itself is not designated as a historic property, it is a contributing element to the Taneytown Historic District, Sager said.

The Historic District nomination from 1986 indicates the significance of the Taneytown district includes commercial and industrial buildings through the 1930s, he said.

"That would include this 1920s industrial building, so it's certainly a contributing element to the Historic District," Sager said.

The city has appealed the decision, according to Mayor Jim McCarron, and expects to hear the result in six to eight weeks.

If the city wins its appeal, McCormick said she intends to reapply for the grant.

"We're trying to get our downtown cleaned up," she said.

According to McCormick, the city has been open to offers to redevelop the property.

But McCarron said no one has approached the city since a bid was put in more than a year ago.

He said the city was looking for it a meeting facility or an all-purpose building, possibly with retail space, to be constructed on the property.

He added that apartments would not be ideal for the city.

The city has not listed the site for sale after owning it for six to eight years, according to McCarron.

Taneytown commissioned a structural analysis in 2003 that deemed the building structurally safe, but McCormick believes that is no longer the case.

"It's a wreck," she said.

If the city were to redevelop the property into a community center itself, McCormick said it would cost about $1.6 to $1.7 million.

The cost to demolish the building and clear the site would be about $250,000, according to McCormick.

That's too much for the city to move forward without the grant, according to McCarron.

"I would not recommend that, but it's up to the council to make that decision," he said. "I would hate to spend city money to demolish it."

If the grant is not approved, McCarron said he would prefer to see the city sell the property and let the new owner demolish the building.

Although the exact age of the building is unknown, the creamery dates back to the early 1920s, according to the determination of eligibility form submitted to the Maryland Historical Trust by the city as part of its grant application.

None of the original dairy equipment exists to provide clues to the original use of the spaces, according to the eligibility form.

According to "A Dam Good Town," a book detailing Taneytown's history by city native the Rev. David Shaum, the Hanover Creamery originally owned the business. The creamery received milk to have the cream separated and made into butter, or possibly ice cream, but it is not known if any processing took place there.

In 1927, the Hanover Creamery was bought by the Fairfield Western Maryland Dairy. It is not known in what capacity the creamery building later functioned nor is it known when the Taneytown Creamery closed, according to Shaum's account.

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