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Building may be used for adult day care Developer seeks OK to run facility on site


A vacant building in Mount Airy that at various times was a dance pavilion, a revivalist meeting place and a farm equipment business might be resurrected as an adult day care facility.

Local developer Michael Berman, the owner of the building at Ridge and Park avenues, plans to apply to the Mount Airy Planning and Zoning Commission for a special exception to operate an adult day care facility on the site.

Mr. Berman has built the first phase of a senior housing community on the land adjacent to the old dance hall, as the building is known by longtime town residents.

With Mount Airy Senior Center next to the senior housing development, the developer said an adult day care facility would be a compatible addition to the complex.

"The adult day care facility is an integral part of the senior housing community," Mr. Berman said.

"It's something we feel is needed within the community," he added.

Mount Airy town planner, Teresa Bamberger, said the adult day care center "makes a lot of sense."

Planning for the center is in the early stages, and Mr. Berman said he hopes to submit project plans to town officials in late spring.

His hope is that the adult day care facility would serve 20 to 40 seniors.

It's unclear at this time when the center will open and who will own and operate it, Mr. Berman said.

Oscar Baker, 73, who lives in the senior housing development next to the vacant building, supports Mr. Berman's plans for the site.

He would like to see the old dance hall put to good use.

The building holds many memories for the lifelong Mount Airy resident.

Among his recollections are sitting in his tree perch, where he had a perfect view of revival meetings held in front of the building.

"It was quite an entertainment in the '30s," he said.

Later the building was the site of open-air dances and carnivals sponsored by Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company.

It was at one of those dances in July 1946 that Mr. Baker proposed to his wife, Edith.

"I gave my wife a diamond there, and now we're living here on the grounds," he said. "It's real great how these things work out. You never know."

Jousting tournaments and boxing and wrestling matches were among the sports events held at the building in the 1940s, Mr. Baker recalled.

"It was quite a lively spot back in those days," he said.

In recent years, Mr. Baker said, the building was used as a farm equipment store, a sewing factory and a cabinet manufacturing business.

From his home across the way, Mr. Baker likes to remember the building as the place where he courted his wife.

"After 50 years, we came back home where we started," he said. "It's kind of romantic, isn't it?"

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