Sparrows Point's 'Star of Bethlehem' gets a new home this holiday season

Sparrows Point's "Star of Bethlehem" is getting a new home.

Officials with Tradepoint Atlantic, the company that’s redeveloping the site of an old steel mill in Sparrows Point, announced Thursday that they'll put the mill's famous star atop the property's water tower.

“It will have a much more prominent location,” Aaron Tomarchio, a senior vice president for Tradepoint Atlantic, said during a community open house Thursday night.

The star once graced the top of the mill's 320-foot-tall L Blast furnace and was lit each winter holiday season, visible far beyond the mill.

It was named both for the company that ran the mill for generations, Bethlehem Steel, and for the town of Bethlehem, where Christians believe that Jesus was born.

After the mill closed for good in 2012 when its then-owner RG Steel went bankrupt, the fate of the star was unclear. The star, which was built by steelworkers decades ago, spans 28 feet, weighs 1.5 tons and features 196 bulbs.

When the company now known as Tradepoint Atlantic bought the mill property in 2014, officials pledged to preserve the star.

For the past few years, the star has been affixed to Tradepoint’s water treatment plant, located along the Patapsco River. Drivers crossing the Key Bridge toward Sparrows Point could sometimes catch a glimpse of the star if they looked in the right spot.

The star will be moved to the water tower in time for Tradepoint’s annual star-lighting ceremony, scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 28. Tomarchio said the star will face to the northwest and will be visible from the Key Bridge, the Baltimore Beltway and Peninsula Expressway.

The water tower will likely be the star’s permanent home, as it’s going to be the tallest structure on the property for the foreseeable future, Tomarchio said.

Tomarchio also announced that Tradepoint Atlantic is working with the Baltimore Museum of Industry to create a permanent exhibit on Sparrows Point’s steelmaking heritage at the museum.

Museum director Anita Kassof told the audience at the open house that her staff plans to work with local residents and former steelworkers to develop the exhibit.

“This is a Baltimore story, this is a Maryland story, this is an American story,” she said. “And most of all: It’s your story.”

pwood@baltsun.com

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