The Meadow Mill in Woodberry, a Jones Falls Expressway roadside landmark, is spinning in a new direction.
Several years ago, the massive brick structure, built in 1877, ceased to function as the home of London Fog coats. It's now being converted into a mixed-use campus that includes studios for artists and photographers, the Potters Guild, an advertising agency and chemical business, a drapery-making shop and a bakery.
"Your imagination can run wild with this space," said developer Samuel K. Himmelrich Jr. as he walked through the mill's old power house, a cavernous space not far from the North Central Light-Rail Line's tracks.
"The rent's negotiable. It's in the flood plain," he said of this portion of the property.
Indeed, the Jones Falls once supplied the mill with water for its steam plant. The mill's ground floor could flood during a bad storm, but that does not seem to be a major obstacle these days. The high-and-dry upper floors have stout timbers and wood columns and maple flooring over 3-inch Georgia pine. The mill is now partially renovated. New tenants are moving in each month.
The developer's father, Samuel K. Himmelrich Sr., purchased Meadow Mill nearly three years ago after the site of the family chemical business, Inland Leidy, Inc., was taken by the Maryland Stadium Authority for Oriole Park parking.
Four Himmelriches -- the father and three sons -- all pitch in at Meadow Mill in the 3600 block of Clipper Mill Road. There, the chemical company, where Samuel Himmelrich Sr. and son Alfred Himmelrich work, have attractive offices that are located where looms once spun threads.
"There's a certain kind of business person who wants to work in a great old space like this," Samuel Himmelrich Jr. said as he pointed to a huge hall with a dramatic, curving stair case. Each stair tread bears a cast-iron inscription, "Meadow Mill."
Another son, William Himmelrich, opened his Stone Mill Bakery in a ground-floor section of the sprawling 200,000-square-foot mill site. He directs several bakers who turn out the French and Italian breads, pastas and rolls that are served at the Harbor Court Hotel and Linwood's Restaurant. He also has a retail shop in the 1600 block of Sulgrave Ave., Mount Washington.
Meadow Mill, with its massive belfry, dominates the Jones Falls Valley between Druid Hill Park and Hampden. The mill was owned by the Hooper family, sailmakers of Irish descent who came to dominate the cotton duck industry in the village of Woodberry.
The mill, named for a placid green meadow that once hugged the side of the Jones Falls, is representative of architecture that would be right at home in Fall River, Mass., or some other New England mill town.
Meadow Mill was renowned for its seine twines. The lights never went out here during World War II, when the factory worked three shifts seven days a week to make camouflage nets and canvas for stretchers, cots, knapsacks, uniforms and tents. lTC Business slackened in the 1950s when mill jobs went South. London Fog subsequently purchased the building and remained here for more than 20 years.
Then the Himmelriches came into the picture. They seem to have an appetite for Jones Falls Valley mill buildings. They also own and plan to develop old Mt. Washington Mill.