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After 111 years of serving the Baltimore region, Meyer Seed Co. is closing its doors

After 111 years of providing gardeners across the Baltimore region with essentials, Meyer Seed Co. in Harbor East is closing its doors.

The agricultural mainstay’s owner, Harry W. Hurst III, declined to provide details of the closure, including when the company will cease operations, but a local real estate developer announced last week it purchased the Meyer Seed property at 600 South Caroline St. that spans an entire city block.

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Chasen Companies said it plans to turn the seed company’s building and the adjacent 1400 Aliceanna St. property into companion developments with a combined 272 luxury apartments.

Chasen plans to preserve the exterior architecture of the Meyer Seed structure but build a five-story apartment building out of it with 100 one-bedroom and 72 two-bedroom units. The rebuilt property will feature a 41,000-square-foot, street-level commercial space for a large retail tenant, along with a parking garage with reserved spaces for tenants, the developer said. The new top part the building will feature large windows, and an elevated bar deck with green space for residents.

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In addition to the seed company’s closure, first reported by the Baltimore Business Journal, three other small businesses are being pushed out of the area due to the new development next door at 1400 Aliceanna St.: a warehouse for home goods store Su Casa, Aveley Farms Coffee Roasters, and the showroom and shop for Christopher Schafer Clothier.

Chasen’s announcement follows a pattern in the ongoing revitalization of the once industrial Harbor East neighborhood that is now being transformed into a more upscale area that connects to Fells Point.

Chasen also plans to enhance the streetscape around the buildings.

“Along with our typical modern building upgrades, we are planning a beautification of the sidewalks that further connects Fells Point and Harbor East,” said Paul Davis, a partner and chief investment officer at Chasen, in a news release. “Some of the largest pedestrian-friendly walkways in Baltimore will be lined with a mix of greenery, benches and outdoor seating, and bike racks. The community will have access to amenities and a healthy mix of national and local retailers located on the first floor of each property.”

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Meyer Seed Co. has been owned by three generations of the Hurst family. John F. Meyer opened the business in 1909 on Light Street, and Webster Hurst Sr. purchased it in the 1930s.

The company moved to Charles and Lombard streets and then, in 1969, to the 50,000-square-foot warehouse in Harbor East.

H. Webster Hurst Jr., joined Meyer in 1946 and was the owner and president of the company until he died at the age of 95 in December 2019. Since then, his son took over.

Throughout its tenure, the company changed little aside from adding a few new items to its stock such as organic fertilizers. Over the years Meyer Seed has seen its commercial farming customers wane and more and more homeowners venturing to its warehouse, including city dwellers to get seeds for rooftop or backyard gardens.

The Hursts were involved in every aspect of the business from management to the minor tasks of sorting and reading mail to answering the phones. The family, along with its nearly two dozen employees, almost always recognized their customers — if not by name, at the very least by order.

“Meyer’s showroom is a no-frills kind of place with three aisles of garden products,” according to a 2006 Sun story. “Bird feeders hang from the ceiling, and the requisite lawn ornaments — mostly plastic ducks and frogs — line the top shelves. Free Farmer’s Almanacs are strewn about the countertop. A wooden wind chime rattles whenever a customer opens the door.”

Behind the counter was a large area where bulk seeds were mixed and sorted and where garden tools and other products were prepared for shipment.

“This is the heart of the business,” the late Hurst Jr. told The Sun in the 2006 interview.

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell contributed to this article.

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