Smart Growth Maryland is a campaign of Preservation Maryland which advocates for a more environmentally and economically sustainable future that creates opportunities for all Marylanders through better development patterns. A major component of this campaign is focused on implementing smart growth policies at the local level across Maryland.
Historic Downtown Mount Airy, Maryland. Courtesy, Famartin, Wikimedia Commons.
Future of Historic Mount Airy Flat-Iron Building
05/03/2017 By Preservation Maryland
Officials in Mount Airy, Maryland are currently debating the future of the historic flat-iron building and are considering a costly demolish-and-replace proposal that would degrade their “remarkably cohesive historic downtown.”
Preservation Maryland understands, respects and applauds the town’s desire to invest in the historic downtown and find innovative ways to repurpose and expand the use of the flat-iron building. However, once a historic structure of this unique variety is demolished, a piece of the community goes with it. In addition, Preservation Maryland believes that retaining this structure and considering more sensitive additions and accessibility options could also provide a significant cost savings to the Town of Mount Airy.
ca. 1903 Mount Airy Flat Iron building, courtesy Frederick News-Post.
The historic flat-iron building which is referred to as a “town icon” in numerous publications and planning documents is also a contributing resource to the Mount Airy National Historic District and its loss would be a significant blow to a remarkably intact district. The building was rebuilt on the foundation of an earlier structure and has been owned by the town since the 1950s.
Over the past year, Preservation Maryland has worked to support concerned local citizens who have begun to question the plan that would reconfigure the historic road network and replace the iconic structure with a costly modern, faux-historic replica. In April 2016, Preservation Maryland sent a letter to the mayor and town council and offered to support a new path forward by assisting the town to identify local preservation planners and qualified architects to come up with a different approach. Regrettably, that offer was not accepted and the expensive demolish-and-replace effort continues.
Conceptual plans for replacement of historic flat-iron building. Courtesy, Town of Mount Airy.
We remain committed to seeing the flat-iron building repurposed and reused in a way that is fiscally prudent and in keeping with the character of historic downtown Mount Airy. We firmly believe there are innovative ways to balance fiscal responsibility, life-safety, downtown redevelopment and heritage preservation.