Old Weave Building at Savage Mill to reopen as shops, banquet facility

September 20, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

A Savage Mill building where durable canvas once was woven for Baltimore clipper ships soon will be bedecked with fine linen.

The gritty, 130-year-old building with high ceilings and elongated windows is being converted into an elegant banquet facility, retail shops and an antique dealers' market -- a project that will conclude the third phase of the Historic Savage Mill renovation.

The Old Weave Building is expected to open Oct. 1, complete with a banquet hall on the top floor, called The Great Room, with a capacity of about 300 people.

The upper level will feature a dance floor, an outdoor deck overlooking the Little Patuxent River and full kitchen facilities for catering.

"Everybody that went in there was saying this is a great room, so we called it that," said Ellie Butehorn, Savage Mill director of marketing.

Canvas used for war supplies and silent movie backdrops also was produced in the Old Weave Building, part of a 12-building textile complex that began in 1822 as one five-story mill.

Separate buildings were used to produce power and process raw cotton.

Mill visitors often asked to rent space for parties in the half-dozen buildings that had been renovated, said Fred Gottemoeller, executive vice president of A.J. Properties, which manages the property for Savage Mill Limited Partnership.

"We had gotten so much interest, we decided to build a facility specifically for that purpose," he said.

Savage Mill management already has received deposits for about 25 events, such as wedding receptions, conferences and bar mitzvahs, including several extending into 1994, Ms. Butehorn said.

The mill's marketing and property managers said they were encouraged that so many bookings had been made, even though the 1,500-square-foot deck had yet to be built and interior construction and decorating work remained to be done.

"Anybody making a booking is taking a giant leap of faith that this will be as lovely as the rest of the mill," said Ms. Butehorn.

The banquet room will rent for about $800 to $1,200 per event, depending on the day of the week and the time of year, she said.

The first planned event is a fund-raiser on Oct. 11 for County Executive Chuck Ecker, she said.

The Old Weave Building is the seventh of 12 buildings to be renovated over the last eight years at the textile mill, which operated from 1822 to 1947.

Other renovated buildings form a marketplace featuring specialty shops, arts and crafts studios and antique dealers.

A. J. Properties of Odenton is seeking retail shops for the Old Weave Building to complement the banquet facility, such as a florist or a bridal shop.

The lower floor will have space for about 100 antique dealers, expanding the number of dealers at the mill to about 250.

Until February, when renovations began, the Old Weave Building was leased as a warehouse and for small industrial shops.

Renovation of the mill on Foundry Street is about 80 percent complete, said Mr. Gottemoeller. The Old Weave Room cost about $1.2 million to renovate, and the entire project is estimated at about $5 million, he said.

The project receives no public grant money.

The next phase of the project will involve finding uses for the remaining five buildings, which are in "relatively worse shape," Mr. Gottemoeller said.

Mill renovators want to establish a restaurant in a power-production building, a facility which sits over the river on piles and was damaged by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, he said.

"We'll have to look for a while to find the right operator to go into an unusual location," he said.

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