This summer will mark the 40-year anniversary of the construction of the Carroll County Office Building on a 9-acre track of fallow farmland at 225 N. Center St. in Westminster.
This writer vividly recalls the construction of that building because he worked on the site as a construction laborer. The 1973-1974 winter was particularly cold, the economy was horrible, and jobs were very hard to find.
At the time, the site of what is now the County Office Building was on the edge of what had once been an area of Westminster known as "Crowl Town," a working class "company town."
The cluster of wooden homes were centered primarily on the southeast corner of what is now Center Street and Route 140, on the banks of a stream that is now referred to as a portion of Longwell Run.
The stream was actually a channel of water that had its capacity greatly increased when Route 140 was constructed through a swamp in the early 1950s. When Route 140 was completed, Center Street did not go all the way to the new highway but stopped just short at Crowl Town, on the northern side of a rickety makeshift bridge across the swamp channel.
The office building was built on a filled-in wetland portion of a dairy farm that was once known for its production of ice cream.
In a letter from Mrs. S. LaRue Crowl on Nov. 2, 2005, she explained that that her "grandfather, J. David Crowl, owned and operated an ice cream factory on Center Street — the very spot where the Carroll County Office Building is presently located. I do not know the exact dates of operation but am assuming it was somewhere from 1910 through the 20's. He died in 1931. My father, Ernest Crowl, would often tell how, as a boy, on Sundays he would deliver a half gallon of ice cream to the homes on Willis Street for a quarter."
Construction had begun on the $2,193,000, 56,387-square-foot three-story office building after 10 bids were submitted for the project in March 1973.
On June 11, 1974, the Carroll County Times ran a front-page article, "County Building behind Schedule." In the article, it was pointed out that "The June 30 deadline for completion of the new office building will not be met because of a shortage of materials. …
"According to the contract, the building was to be built within 425 days and county employees were to move in by July 27. … The building, with three floors and a basement, is 92 percent complete. …"
"From Our Front Porch," a history of Carroll County 1900-1999 by Jim Lee, reported the construction was "delayed as the energy crisis brought delays in getting necessary materials. By August, 1974, the building was already two months behind schedule."
The building was completed in the fall of 1974.