Brewer’s Alley’s rooftop terrace is slated for a makeover of sorts that will protect diners and drinkers from the elements following an approval Thursday from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
Roughly a year ago, owner Phil Bowers constructed a wooden pergola — a column-supported open grid for growing vines — over the sitting area on the roof of his restaurant at 124 N. Market St. in downtown Frederick. The pergola surrounds an outside bar, and a dining area containing several tables and seats.
In an effort to comply with regulations from the Frederick County Health Department, Bowers installed a metal roof panel over the bar area and planned to accompany it with a retractable fabric awning over the dining area.
Members of the Historic Preservation Commission were not satisfied with the plans, though, and expressed a desire to go back to the drawing board to seek a better option.
“The feedback from the commission was that they didn’t really like the way it looked,” Bowers explained Thursday. “So we kept looking for another alternative that made sense and people liked.”
The solution was an operable aluminum louver system over the entire area. The system, which is a collection of shutters with horizontal slats angled to admit light and air but shield people from rain and direct sunlight, was designed to be permanently closed on top of the bar and adjustable over the dining area.
After several workshops with commissioners where they went over the design details, Bowers revised the plans to include a wood fascia, defined as a board or other flat piece of material, over the louver system stained to match the pergola.
While the solution pleased commissioners — who on Thursday voted to approve the application 6-0 with Vice Chairwoman Carrie Albee abstaining — historic preservation staff members were not on board.
The staff report accompanying the application recommended that commissioners deny the application. Staff members were concerned about the work having a negative effect on the historic building and streetscape.
Their opinions are not new, either. Staff members initially expressed concerns over installation of the metal roof panel that exists over the bar today, citing concerns about aesthetics and the change to the function of the pergola, and did not support that amendment either.
The concerns did not faze commissioners, though.
Commission Chairman Dan Lawton said he spent time earlier that day on Brewer’s Alley’s rooftop and viewing it from across the street, and tried to picture the terrace without the pergola.
“I came to believe it looks best the way it does with this extra structure, and I’m not feeling one more layer, as depicted in the recent mock-ups, will harm it in any way,” he said. “I think you’ve done an excellent job on the addition. It fits in well with the existing structure.”
The other commissioners concurred and approved the request, which Bowers said he appreciates.
“I applaud the commission,” he said after the vote. “They realized the first idea wasn’t perfect, and we agreed with them.”
Bowers said he planned to call the manufacturer for the louver system Friday and get the ball rolling on installation. He expects it will take six to eight weeks to complete.