Birely Tannery Building

The Birely Tannery building, which sits along Carroll Creek next to the former offices of The Frederick News-Post.

The only building left from early 19th-century tanning operations in the city of Frederick may be demolished to build a downtown hotel and conference center, according to a project update on Thursday.

Pete Plamondon Jr., co-president of Plamondon Hospitality Partners, the hotel developer for the project, said the proposed final design does not include the Birely Tannery building. Design plans are being revised, and will not be publicly presented or submitted for necessary city review until at least next month, Plamondon said in an interview on Thursday.

The latest plan calls for a 200-room hotel and 24,000 square feet of conference center space with on-site parking and infrastructure improvements at the site of the old Frederick News-Post building.

The property at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St. is owned by a business entity formed by members of the Randall family. The Randall family also owns the parent company of The News-Post.

Based on prior renderings submitted in Plamondon’s response to the city’s request for proposals, some people anticipated that the understated white brick building facing the Carroll Street side of the property might be demolished. That expectation wasn’t confirmed until Thursday; project planners had insisted that the renderings were preliminary and subject to change.

Local preservation advocates have opposed the anticipated demolition of the tannery, highlighting its importance as the last remnant of a once-booming tanning industry concentrated along Carroll Creek.

However, Kann Partners, a Baltimore-based consultant retained by Plamondon Hospitality Partners to research and facilitate applications related to historic preservation, concluded that the tannery is ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places, according to information presented Thursday.

This conclusion and accompanying research will be submitted to the Maryland Historical Trust, which has final authority to determine if the tannery can be on the National Register. The city Historic Preservation Commission will weigh in on the building’s historical significance as it relates to the Frederick Town Historic District.

The local preservation commission and the state agency can each independently determine whether the tannery is historically significant. The rulings do not have to agree. Locally, a conclusion that the tannery is significant in the context of the historic district can, but does not have to, preclude demolition.

History in context

Kann Partners began research in January on the building’s significance related to the tanning operations.

Prior to that, little was known about the Birely Tannery’s origins, apart from a report of evidence found by a Delaware excavating company during its investigation into the site’s historical significance at the start of the Carroll Creek Flood Control project.

Mimi Giguere, director of historic preservation for Kann Partners, on Thursday detailed the firm’s evaluation of the existing building related to the criteria for the National Registry, which include historical significance connected to events, people, design and information potential.

The new information came from a study of historic 18th- and 19th-century maps and documentation through the Maryland Historical Trust and the Maryland Room at the C. Burr Artz Public Library downtown, Giguere said in an interview.

Based on this evidence, in conjunction with MAAR Associates’ report, Giguere said the firm did not find the building eligible for the national register.

“The real association to the original period is mostly gone,” she said, noting that other buildings included in the Birely Tannery business are gone, as is direct access to the creek. “Nothing on the site says ‘I’m a 19th-century tannery.’ It’s a small building sitting in the middle of the parking lot.”

Some local preservationists argue the opposite — the building is significant because it is the only structure left from the city’s once-thriving tanning industry.

Anthony Moscato, chairman of the local preservation advocacy group Frederick Preservation Trust, is one. Moscato is married to Scott Winnette, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission.

In an interview Thursday, Moscato said it was a “definite possibility and probability” that the tannery could be deemed significant under city guidelines.

Christina Martinkosky, a city historic preservation planner, noted that the standards for a national register designation were much stricter than those locally standards.

Next steps

Additional archaeological research is required as part of the state determination of eligibility. Archaeological testing will begin Wednesday, according to Plamondon Hospitality Partners.

The review process will last several weeks, culminating in a report to the Maryland Historical Trust as part of its review, Giguere said.

Even if testing reveals additional information or historic resources related to the tannery, Giguere maintained that the building itself was not significant for a register designation.

“It may be eligible archaeologically, but not as a building,” she said.

Both the final submission to the Maryland Historical Trust and the design plans in the application to the HPC are targeted for September completion dates.

Plamondon has sought input from local architecture firm Bates Architects in shaping the new design to meet city preservation guidelines. Bates Architects has worked extensively on projects within the Frederick Town Historic District, firm representatives said after the meeting Thursday.

This input, in conjunction with extensive work to preserve and renovate the facade of the 1911 trolley building, will make for a “great project,” Pete Plamondon said.

To those who critiqued the project from design or preservation standpoints, Plamondon said, “I think people should withhold comment until they see what’s going to be presented.”

Follow Nancy Lavin on Twitter: @NancyKLavin.

Nancy Lavin covers social services, demographics and religion for The Frederick News-Post.

(19) comments


Fnp editorial staff says "grow up".

You mean "grow up like the plamandoon brothers who daddy handed everything too? You mean like the plamandoon brothers who never started anything from scratch on their own??

Many of us ARE grown up, and we did it without relying on mommy, daddy, or tax payer dollars.


Yep....that is why we are grown ups cause we grew up without relying on anyone else's money....cept our own.


Yep, and look at the name Randall in the FNP. Handed down.

My kid could very well one day run my company. Fact is, he will never know what it's like to work for something and build from scratch.

Had the plamandoon brothers actually done the heavy footwork And built their company with their own blood sweat and tears, and not be using state tax payer dollars, then the FNP would have a valid point.

But I have a sneaky feeling that the person who wrote "grow up" is a Randall; and like the Plamandoon brothers, doesn't understand that life isn't about mommy and daddy giving them everything.


Where are the reports from experts regarding the contaminated soil under and around the tannery? Are the men and women responsible for the testing going to wear hazmat suits and protective breathing apparatus? Who is going to pay for the remediation of this toxic mess once disturbed? Frederick taxpayers deserve honest answers to these questions and many others.


Any contaminated soil is a very minor detail. You simply excavate the soil, haul away and dispose of. It's done daily in the DMV area.


The Randalls are delighted. Frederick tax payers- not so much.


Not just Frederick tax payers. Maryland tax payers in general.


The Randalls should sell the building to Duk Hee Ro. From the outside it looks ready for tenants to move right in.


I wonder why there is NO mention of the arsenic imbedded on this property from its prior use as a tannery......who will pay for the abatement that MDE stated will have to be accomplished at some point.....and why is the mayor so anxious to own the property thereby placing the Frederick taxpayers at risk for the cost of the abatement....sure looks like a deal has been crafted ...


Jersey, where is your concern when it comes to the Kristen Renee Foundation battling Ft. Detrick. Do you care about all Frederick residents health or just have a hidden agenda?


There is another research library at the Museum of Fred Co History on E. Church next to Winchester Hall. Is there someone resarching who has no connection to the project? "Withold comment" - ?? I guess this is like yesterday's "grow up" in the editorial? So if it's not eligible for the national register, forget it. All the "evidence" is hidden in the soil like a land mine. Watch your step then.


Maybe Schifferstadt has no place on the National Historic Register? Pete Plamondon’s consultant Mimi Giguere argues the Birely Tannery building on the site of his proposed hotel is ineligible for a National Register of Historic places listing because their “association to the original period is mostly gone.” Schifferstadt has lost the 300 acres of farmland that surrounded it, and a whole collection of barns and other farm buildings.


And in another section of the paper today:

Other business

The Frederick County Planning Commission gave approval to several other projects last week.

FSK Holiday Inn

The commission voted 7-0 to approve the site plan for expanded plans at the FSK Holiday Inn, 5400 Holiday Drive, Frederick.

The hotel previously received approval to renovate and add to the existing hotel and conference center. The new site plan approval extends to a new 109-room hotel with restaurant, which will share a parking lot and courtyard at the same address.

I wonder how the Holiday Inn is able to undertake such a project without public tax dollars?....Maybe it's because it's not the Randall$ and Plamondon$.


I'm all for the preservation of historical buildings, but this isn't historical. It's a small 19th century warehouse that has a bland, utilitarian design. It was used for various purposes over the years. It's indicative of nothing.


Ok. And we should stop geneological research because the descendents of prominent citizens are bland people. Goodbye Daughters, goodbye Sons, you are pale reminders only, not significant.


not historic enough, or just not conducive for the new hotel? good ole boys network in action. If the residents have to play by the rules then so does the city and the corporations they sleep with. Stand up against this nonsense save this historic landmark


well said!


We can theorize all we want. We can make all the excuses we want, but the Tannery is as much a slum property looking to be covered over. Is the Frederick tax payer going to rebuild all of Frederick that has been allowed to fall into decay over the last 50 years.

It's no wonder that taxes in Frederick are so high.

We can talk about demolishing the Tannery but what is the cost of removing the toxic waste that been absorbed into the ground, much along the same lines as Area B at Fort Detrick. which rises and falls from one year to the next by people who call Frederick their home, can't leave but always in a litigious mindset that the Government owes them a financial retribution.

What is it about the cost of decontaminating the Tannery property that the Randall family's interest in building a hotel and a conference center has yet to be disclosed to the public?. How many pieces of this puzzle still exist that the FNP are not free to discuss for fear of being found out, if they haven't already been found out and repeating the same history the FNP has dedicated to Frederick's chosen ones The history is a long one but our elected leaders can't bring themselves to do anything about the slum conditions that have been ALLOWED to fester for decades in downtown Frederick.

We don't need to save another eyesore anymore that's in your face every time you walk down Frederick's Main Street and have to look at discarded properties that are being allowed to.stand but remain vacant because the OWNERS can't keep up with the messes they have created while thumbing their noses at the public trust that has been bought through the artful dodge game that Frederick has played out on its citizens for decades now.

If you are the VOICE of FREDERICK, what does that say to the rest of US who sit around and watch Frederick decay and crumble around its own foundation and using tax payers to supply the bandaids (tax dollars) every time something HISTORICAL falls or fails or needs to be replaced after YEARS of LOOKING but doing nothing about the rot we find in downtown Frederick and this thing we call the HISTORIC DISTRICT that can't let go of the 19th century or the blinders elected and assigned leaders put on every time someone tinkers with the past,that can readily be duplicated with present technology and look the same as it was 150 years ago but not to the Historic Preservation Committee.


First the property should have been sold to the hotel developers as part of the original deal, the city has no business buying the land. Very shady since the original bids were based on developers buying the land.

Now that the city owns the land they essentially own the hotel, what if this goes belly up? The plamandons could go bankrupt and walk away and the city would own the whole thing, that's how most of these air rights leases work .

I'm guessing that the long to develop this property has something to do with the levels of contamination have washed away over the decades and the cost will be low (watch for that explanation) or a local company with ties to city or county government will get the contract.

The city likes to cherry pick what they feel is historic, this building in no more architecturally interesting then the fair grounds or the warehouse the they wanted on n market that's a brewery or the coke plant. It may not be an attractive building but its historic value is the tannery story.

The city bullies the small business owners and residential property owners but they wont touch certain properties, got to play nice with the FNP they are the biggest mouthpiece in town and they will make or break a politician.

I mean what about the pythian castle "condos" that place is falling apart and nothing is being done. Lets see who that developer is giving money too. We all know about asiana, lets look at brewers alley addition. Attractive yes, but in no way does it match the historic architecture of the old opera house or the surrounding buildings with its laminated wood façade. What about the old mil on carroll st, the window fell out years ago, the paint is peeling and curtains flap in the breeze. Nothing says welcome to Frederick like that rag tag mess. Theold brick works is another, I know its not in the historic overlay but that's been empty for year I believe Clagget owns that, but who cares, coming in to Frederick that way is a mess with the overgrown weeds and uncut grass and homeless tents, please. Go even farther, buckeystown pike, empty bank, uncut grass, old vacant gas station uncut grass, boards falling off (I know it"s the county) but if a homeowner let a property sit like that versus the big money developers and corporations, nonsense. Back to downtown, whats with the "mural" on the side of the building across from lapaz? that big white cloud, how did that happen, who let that happen and why has it sat so long with nothing, but I cant change the light on my porch without getting a letter. I say the tannery should stay, Frederick is farming community and once animal was finished for dairy, meat, etc the hyde was used for clothing that's important piece of history. Once its gone its gone, like the md school for the deaf building and the old radio station building on 7th and market. They are gone forever, build around it or incorporate it in, put the mechanical's in it or the offices. No, its cheaper to level it, and they can sell creek side hotel rooms for a premium, or so politicians patronize the ladies of the evening ;/ with a nice view.

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