The Cider Barrel's massive red, white and blue barrel was meant to lure drivers to the Prohibition-era roadside stand for freshly pressed cider, a visual that probably made sense when the East Germantown horizon was still evocative of rural countryside.
Now, the big bulky barrel is an anachronism.
The Cider Barrel, which is part of the Maryland Historic Trust Inventory of Historic Sites, has been empty for almost a decade, and there's growing concern over the vacant building's fate.
The site made Preservation Maryland’s 2012 Most Endangered List. The nonprofit organization publishes a list of historic places in Maryland whose fates are uncertain, sites nominated by concerned preservationists.
The Germantown Historical Society, which nominated the Cider Barrel to Preservation Maryland, is anxious about recent chatter over moving the site someplace within Germantown Town Center. In 2009, the Montgomery County Council approved a sector plan that gave the county wiggle room to relocate The Cider Barrel to Germantown Town center. According to the sector plan:
"If an appropriate use cannot be identified, the [The] Cider Barrel should be relocated to public property such as the police and fire site, the Upcounty Regional Services Center, or along the Century Boulevard promenade."
Preservationists are fearful that moving the structure would cause irreparable damage. The historical society would like to see the old Cider Barrel site be put to use, according to historical society president Susan Soderberg.
According to Soderberg, who writes a monthly column for Germantown Patch, the Cider Barrel was built in 1922 by local entrepreneur Andrew Baker. Baker sold cider in the building from apples grown at his estate.
But the site went out of business in 2003. Its final owner, the late Bill Cross, told The Washington Post that the cider business was getting too stressful. He reportedly sold the site and the surrounding land to a developer for $7 million, which he donated to charity, The Washington Post reported in 2003.
Today, the defunct cider stand is pinned to the corner of Frederick Road (Route 355) and Oxbridge Drive by a flank of tidy apartments — the Elms at Germantown.
So if the decision were yours, what would you do with this vacant space? Should The Cider Barrel be put to use — if so, as what? Or should it be moved to Germantown Town Center — if so, where?