Westminster warming up for birthday celebration

As the city emerges from an unusually hard winter, Westminster officials have begun turning their attention toward celebrating the city's sestercentennial (250 years) birthday this year.

Winters such as the one we just endured are hard on a city — and expensive. In a recent edition of the city's newsletter, Westminster Mayor Kevin Utz wrote, "The City has spent all $100,000 of our snow budget plus an additional $50,000 in contingency funds purchasing 2,441.72 tons of salt."

Utz added that the Public Works Department "worked 1,732 hours of regular time and 2,977.5 hours of overtime clearing 13,497 miles of roads during the 12 winter weather events so far this year."

But with warmer weather on the horizon, it is time to celebrate not only Westminster's 250 years of history but also the anniversary of two important institutions in town, the Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society of Carroll County.

According to Utz, "The Chamber of Commerce will reach the 90th year of existence and will join in the festivities planned for these landmark anniversary events."

Utz also reports, "The Carroll County Historical Society will also celebrate a landmark anniversary of 75 years — a septuagesiquintennial — with special displays and events at the (Sherman-Fisher) Shellman House."

As for the city's birthday celebration, Utz observes, "The City of Westminster was founded 250 years ago. We are celebrating our sestercentennial anniversary with activities and events all year long. We are asking you to search your attics, garages, and basements for picture and other memorabilia to display in our newly renovated City Hall.

"We are particularly interested in pictures of Main Street buildings through the years. I can remember the 200th anniversary of the City, which featured a huge parade, speeches, dignitaries and patriotic bunting along Main Street. If you, too, remember this parade, please forward your recollections to us for the display."

In the coming months, this space in the Carroll Eagle will revisit several of the articles published in the past 10 years on the history of Westminster, the Chamber of Commerce and its historical society.

Those interested in the area's rich past should not overlook the historical society's monthly box lunch lecture series on Tuesdays at Grace Lutheran Church, 21 Carroll St. in Westminster.

The May 13 presentation will be on "How Much Do You Know about McDaniel College?" by Dr. James Lightner, author of a definitive history of the college, "Fearless and Bold." According to the historical society, "McDaniel College will soon celebrate its sesquicentennial. College Historian James Lightner will share a fast-paced look at the 147 years of the College's development, from its founding as Western Maryland College in 1867 to the present day."

On June 10, historian and state Sen. Joe Getty will give a presentation on the manufacture of cigars in Manchester.

On July 8, join me for a talk on the 250 years of Westminster history, beginning with William Winchester's plan in 1764 to sell 45 lots along King Street.

Folks planning to attend the noon lectures are encouraged to bring a lunch. The society provides beverages and dessert. Admission is $5 for society members; $10 for nonmembers.

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