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Revival of old is new on town's Main Street


WHAT'S NEW IN Hampstead is the return of the old.

In the past year, 26 antiques vendors and a Victorian-style tea parlor have joined and revitalized Main Street, turning it into a haven for collectors and the curious.

For Bill and Brenda Thorn, all the antiques business seems like old times. When the pair started Queens Antiques 15 years ago, more than a dozen antique dealers were located along Main Street. Until a year or so ago, that number had dwindled to three.

When Bob's Variety, a Hampstead mainstay department store for more than 30 years, closed two summers ago, Main Street took on a bleak look.

But redevelopment prompted a boon for antique buffs.

One year ago in mid-December, Bucky Harmon and his wife, Diane, reopened the old department store as Hampstead Movie House Mall, introducing 22 independent antiques and collectibles dealers under one roof. They continued the Bob's Variety tradition of selling flowers and snowballs all summer.

"People are inclined to go for an afternoon of antiquing where there is more than one vendor," Harmon said.

Regular visitors such as Gordon Crawford of Hampstead spend time perusing the mall, looking at and talking about antique items.

Last summer, the Harmons devised the idea with Crawford that he could remodel the empty travel agency four doors down from them to sell antiques with a partner and rent space to three others. Crawford and antiques dealer Mary LeCompte of Churchville opened Unique Antiques in November as a retirement hobby.

"Bucky and Diane are really great neighbors. When someone drops in up at Bucky's, they send them down here. That's what you need in a small town," Crawford said.

A week after Crawford and LeCompte opened their store, Karen Knoch served her first pot of tea in Linens and Lace Tea Parlor next to Queens Antiques.

She had "taken tea" in parlors of the South and developed her style of teahouse, with sandwiches and pastry. Knoch keeps a local emphasis, offering pastries from Jennifer Bertucco, who opened Bertucco's Bakery in Hampstead in August, and fruit preserves created by Jill Gebhart of Jill's Jams and Jellies in Greenmount.

Updating buildings for new uses in Hampstead extends beyond antiques.

"Dick Matthews [tire company] remodeled and he's the cornerstone of the block," Brenda Thorn said. Other changes on Main Street include a Victorian mansion that houses a hair salon. The police station is in a landmark bank building constructed in the early 1900s. After four years of renovation, the town's train station, one block from Main, has plans to open in September as a museum.

Those who spend time on Main Street welcome the changes.

"This revitalization you see is because people are talking. We have a waiting list of those who want to get in our mall," Harmon said. "We encourage and support as many folks as come our way."

Alesia Band rehearsing

Alesia Band, a community music group dating to 1898, is starting weekly rehearsals from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. tomorrow. It will prepare music to play for summer weekend engagements.

Rehearsals take place in the band room at North Carroll Middle School. The entrance to the band room is from the parking lot behind the school at 2401 Old Hanover Pike, Greenmount, north of North Carroll public library.

New members of all ages are welcome. About 35 members are enrolled, with about 26 appearing at engagements. The first performance usually is at the June Strawberry Festival of Jerusalem Lutheran Church off Bachman Valley Road.

Francis Staley, band director, said the group changes its repertoire each year. This year it will perform "mostly oldies," he said, including "Mockingbird Hill," "On Top of Old Smokey," "Mr. Sandman," and "You're A Grand Old Flag."

Information: Francis Staley, 410-374-5117.

Recruiting Girl Scouts

A Girl Scouts recruitment night will be held at 7 Jan. 22 at North Carroll public library. Scouts may be as young as age 5. Adults are encouraged to lead the girls.

Mary Ann Hoffman leads the recruitment of Scouts and volunteers in the North Carroll area. Information: Mary Ann Hoffman, 410-239-8562.

Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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