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Visions for Vacancies: The Cider Barrel

What would you do with this vacant roadside stand?

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 , 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, , 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?

carrie April 09, 2012 at 11:38 AM
I would like to see it used at a possible water ice or ice cream or produce stand. With the Elms and the new houses being built right there, it would bring in a decent business.
KMedlen April 09, 2012 at 01:21 PM
If it is going to be moved, a place for it could be the new urban park in Germantown that is soon going to be built. Use is as a concession stand, Historic or BlackRock information stand, ice cream stand,...ect. Put it to use.
TSteele April 09, 2012 at 02:35 PM
It has to be moved. It just looks completely out of place now, and the access simply doesn't lend itself to business.
Tiffany Arnold (Editor) April 09, 2012 at 02:38 PM
@TSteele, if you were to move it, where ought it go?
l April 09, 2012 at 03:23 PM
There are parking spaces at the Elms that are supposed to be dedicated for use by Cider Barrel patrons/employees. It wasn't originally supposed to be moved off of 355, at least, that was the way it was discussed when the Elms was approved for development not so long ago.
C Jones April 09, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I wish it wouldn't be moved, but the reality is, when the apartments went up, they didn't bother to leave any parking at all. It is too far away from other businesses to get enough walk up traffic. I don't have a problem with it staying put and staying empty. It is an icon. But if people NEED to find a use for it, then it probably needs to be moved. Town center would be a good place, but is there a spot that isn't take n up already?
Michael-Ann Henry April 09, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Does a place really need all that parking if there are so many residential spaces around it? Can't patrons just walk to the possible business? Like Carrie, I could see it being a seasonal produce store or and ice cream shop. It is a historical landmark that adds a little character to our typical suburban town. Who knows maybe it actually sell cider again like it did when my family first moved here. The only reason I think the business owners stopped selling there was because there was a lack of possible business there without the new residential spaces behind it which hold a lot more people now ( or possible customers) than the trailor park that I think was behind it before. I hope it isn't moved, for the sake of keeping Germantown a little less bland or typical.
TSteele April 09, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Tiffany - I think KMedlen had a pretty good idea
Stacy April 09, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Maybe a good location is near the MARC station. It might be a good business for Flea Market days.
Melissa Anthony April 09, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Move it to the soccer plex, an historic barn is there too. It would be great as a concession stand and/or welcome station.
Brenn April 09, 2012 at 10:03 PM
There's no place along 355 where it would be safe for motorists or pedestrians to gather near the roadway. The effort to build a Germantown town center is lame at best and there;s really nowhere for the Cider Barrel. The most appropriate space in Germantown would likely be at the SoccerPlex, where it could be used as an information booth or refreshment stand for much of the year. Alternatively, it could be moved to somewhere such in southern Pennsylvania where apples are still being grown and cider is still sold at roadside stands.
bferle April 10, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Soccer Plex, Butler's Orchard, or the park at the corner of 355 and 27 are all good locations. Don't get rid of it ~ relocate to a spot that people will see its value again!
carrie April 10, 2012 at 11:43 AM
It was funny because my fiance and I were just talking about the Cider Barrel right before this article was put out. To go along with my previous post, I also do think that the soccer plex is not the worst idea, as they are now building the tennis plex too and it would be a nice addition. I would love to see it stay where it is, but the soccer plex, with it being such a family-friendly area already, might be a nice alternative where more people could see and enjoy it.
Stacy April 10, 2012 at 02:27 PM
The soccer plex is a great idea. My family has spent years of weekends there and parents and kids, including myself, would have loved to have something, other than vending machines, close to the fields.
Susan Soderberg May 03, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Most of you do not get the point. If the Cider Barrel is moved it would not be historic any more, and would have no more significance to Germantown than any modern sign. If you want an ice cream stand, etc., then build one. Do not strip a building that tells a story about Germantown's past of its meaning. It was put on the state's "Most Endangered" list because of the threat of its being moved, not of its being destroyed. It is already under the protection of the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation.
lauren Bernstein April 09, 2013 at 03:10 AM
I would love to open up a cupcake / bakery/ sandwich shop does anyone know if it is even available to rent out?

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