Historic Preservation Commission Votes To Demolish Bierly Building

That’s expected to make way for the proposed downtown Frederick hotel & conference center.


Frederick, Md (KM). In a 6-1 vote Thursday, the Frederick Historic Preservation Commission approved a request to demolish the former Bierly Tannery. Panel Chairman Dan Lawton made the passing motion. He was supported by Matt Bonin, Alan Miner, Stephen Parnes, Peter Regan and Jessica Underwood. Carrie Albee cast the lone “no” vote.

The HPC agreed that the old tannery located in the 200 block of East Patrick Street is a deterrent to a major project which would benefit the city, in this case the proposed downtown hotel and conference center, and that demolishing the structure was in the best interests of a majority of local residents.

Before taking the vote, the Commission heard nearly two-hours of testimony from supporters of the demolition, and opponents. Pete Plamondon, with Plamondon Hospitality Partners, which is expected to develop the facility, said it was not feasible to keep the tannery. “It is a deteriorated structure that cannot be picked up or re-used in the middle of the project in the great connection along Carroll Creek Park, the resource that gives this site the best opportunity of being successful,” he said.

Archaeologist Kelly Berliner testified against the demolition. “Once the tannery is gone, it is gone,” she said. “Even with the alterations it has seen over the years, there will never be another one like it. and we can never undo its destruction. It’s not like a new hotel that can built many times over in many places. There’s only one tannery. There are a lot of hotels in Frederick. There are other conference options. We need to stop pretending that this is the only choice.”

Peter Samuel said restoring this historic building could be a plus to the Carroll Creek Linear Park. “I think it detracts from the potential of the Carroll Creek Linear Park. A restored Bierly Tannery could add a lot of interest down at the lower level. It would tell the history not only of tanning but of the flood and flood control to have it down there,” he said.

That brought this response form Bob McCutcheon, the owner of McCutcheon Apple Products, a supporter of the downtown hotel and conference center. “If it’s such a great idea to turn this poor, dilapidated old building into a museum about tanneries, why hasn’t anyone do it yet,” he said.

In its motion to demolish the structure, the HPC place some conditions. One requires that a full archaeological study be conducted at the site, and that the building be documented and photographed, and any artifacts be recovered.

No date has been set for tearing down the Bierly tannery.


By Kevin McManus