Sherwood smokestack gets mortar make-over It's a landmark in Westminster

October 15, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Repair work being done on the Sherwood smokestack will ensure that the 144-foot-tall brick landmark will continue to stand tall above Westminster.

Workers from International Chimney Corp. in Buffalo, N.Y., are repairing mortar around the bricks and placing red steel bands to hold the bricks in place and stabilize the stack, said Tom Bowers, chief of the county's Bureau of Building Services.

Bricks have been loosening because of age and weather, and brick fragments had fallen off, said county Public Works Director Keith R. Kirschnick.

The smokestack is part of the county-owned Barrel House complex, the former Sherwood Distillery, which was built in the early 1930s. The complex houses various county offices.

"Sherwood" is written vertically in white letters on the stack.

The work, which started about two weeks ago, should be finished the first week of November, depending on the weather, Mr. Kirschnick said. The cost is about $33,000, he said.

The county also solicited bids on how much it would cost to tear down the smokestack, and the cost would have been about the same as repairing it, he said.

Rather than cause a possible controversy by tearing it down, the county decided to repair it, Mr. Kirschnick said.

Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said Mr. Kirschnick asked him if the stack was considered historic. The mayor said he did not know, but said the stack was considered a landmark.

Mr. Brown said he was pleased that the county decided to repair it, and that he was "amazed at the bravery" of the workers who must climb a steep ladder on the side of the stack.

The mayor said he also would like the county to make improvements to other parts of the Barrel House complex to create more downtown parking.

The county's long-range plan is to tear down the building behind the chimney and grade the site for parking, Mr. Kirschnick said.

The structure known as the "glass" building to the right of the smokestack is being used for storage now, he said.

It's possible the glass building could become the home of the Westminster Tourism Information Center.

Micki Smith, county deputy director of administrative services, suggested last month that the center be moved from 210 E. Main St.

The county is considering the request as part of the capital budget for fiscal year 1994, which begins July 1.

The county also is renovating the Barrel House, which currently houses the Department of Social Services and Human Services Programs.

The county plans to move the Department of Citizen Services and the Bureau of Housing into the Barrel House this year, Mr. Kirschnick said.

The cost of the renovations is about $90,000, he said.

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