Antiques store owner buys historic Warfield Building Entrepreneur plans a general store there

November 04, 1997|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The historic Warfield Building on Sykesville's Main Street is in the hands of an entrepreneur who wants to turn it into a general store.

Loriann Pfefferkorn, owner of the Sykesville Emporium antiques and flower shop, bought the three-story brick and granite structure for $172,500 last week, a price she considers a bargain.

"Rents are increasing, and Sykesville is revitalizing," Pfefferkorn said. "I am getting the last good deal on the street."

Built in 1903 by Wade H. D. Warfield, a business leader described in town annals as "the man who powered Sykesville's growth," the building now belongs to a woman who has expanded her emporium twice in four years.

Pfefferkorn, 36, plans to make the building into the Sykesville General Store, stocking antiques, works by local artists and tea.

She said she knows that "old" sells in the town that straddles the border between Carroll and Howard counties. Six antiques stores line the blocks that make up the town's commercial district, and a few more are to open by the end of the year.

"Little businesses can't compete with the chain stores and outlets," Pfefferkorn said. "Antiques and possibly art shops can survive and build an economy in small towns."

Pfefferkorn nervously opened her first business in Sykesville four years ago on Main Street and soon moved it across the street to the old firehouse. She settled on the Warfield Building on Friday and plans to move antiques and more into the shop within 30 days.

Many other available properties need major renovations, but hers is "ready to go," she said. Although she would prefer "to gut the building and put it back to its original state," it is easier to rent, easier to afford and more useful in its current state, she said. Once she moves in, she expects other antique dealers to lease space.

The street's only unattached commercial building has a storefront window and its original granite facade topped with "Wade H. D. Warfield & Co.," which opened its hardware and farm supply store in 1903. Trains carrying coal and merchandise once pulled up to its back door.

Its fortune parallels that of other merchants downtown. Many businesses, shops and offices have occupied the 5,400 square feet of interior space, and the building has stood vacant at times.

Most recently, the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization that did about $150,000 in renovations that include a kitchen and second stairway, held meetings and social events in the building and leased the first floor to the B'nai Israel Congregation.

Under Pfefferkorn's ownership, the Warfield Building will become a mix of antiques shops, a tea room -- near the second-floor kitchen -- and art galleries, an ideal use for the third floor where brick walls climb 20 feet to the ceiling, the new owner said. She also envisions rotating art exhibitions lining the two stairwells.

"We are ready for something like this, and we need it now," she said.

She said her plans are ambitious, but she can look out her storefront and see success stories.

"When I came here four years ago, there was only one other antique store," Pfefferkorn said. "Now there are six. That is growth. If Sykesville ever booms, I am sitting on an asset."

At the Warfield Building, she has room to start a building-salvage business where she will sell pieces of Victorian architecture from razed structures. She will be saving doors, mantels and intricate moldings from landfills. The building's freight elevator will help her move in heftier items, she said.

In the adjacent alley, which came with the property, she will run seasonal sales, from summer produce to Christmas greenery.

Pfefferkorn travels about seven miles to Sykesville every day from a small farm in West Friendship.

"There is a magic dividing line; something happens when you cross into Carroll County," she said. "Carroll is still country. Howard has lost that."

She has no doubt that Sykesville will prosper, she said. Its population has grown to about 3,500, many of whom have moved to town this decade. It is ideally situated along the Patapsco River near Howard County and has managed to keep its small-town atmosphere, she said.

The building she is vacating has a new tenant who will open Firehouse Antiques there.

"Antiques are coming up in value everywhere and getting scarcer," she said. "You can still get a nice selection and a good quality for a fair price here."

Pub Date: 11/04/97

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