Visions for Vacancies: The Cider Barrel

What would you do with this vacant roadside stand?

The Cider Barrel's massive red, white and blue barrel was meant to lure drivers to the Prohibition-era roadside stand for freshly pressed cider, a visual that probably made sense when the East Germantown horizon was still evocative of rural countryside.

Now, the big bulky barrel is an anachronism.

The Cider Barrel, which is part of the Maryland Historic Trust Inventory of Historic Sites, has been empty for almost a decade, and there's growing concern over the vacant building's fate.

The site made Preservation Maryland’s 2012 Most Endangered List. The nonprofit organization publishes a list of historic places in Maryland whose fates are uncertain, sites nominated by concerned preservationists.

The , which nominated the Cider Barrel to Preservation Maryland, is anxious about recent chatter over moving the site someplace within Germantown Town Center. In 2009, the Montgomery County Council approved a sector plan that gave the county wiggle room to relocate The Cider Barrel to Germantown Town center. According to the sector plan:

"If an appropriate use cannot be identified, the [The]  Cider Barrel  should  be  relocated  to public property such as the police and fire site,  the Upcounty Regional Services Center, or along the Century Boulevard promenade."

Preservationists are fearful that moving the structure would cause irreparable damage. The historical society would like to see the old Cider Barrel site be put to use, according to historical society president Susan Soderberg.

According to Soderberg, , the Cider Barrel was built in 1922 by local entrepreneur Andrew Baker. Baker sold cider in the building from apples grown at his estate.

But the site went out of business in 2003. Its final owner, the late Bill Cross, told The Washington Post that the cider business was getting too stressful. He reportedly sold the site and the surrounding land to a developer for $7 million, which he donated to charity, The Washington Post reported in 2003. 

Today, the defunct cider stand is pinned to the corner of Frederick Road (Route 355) and Oxbridge Drive by a flank of tidy apartments — the Elms at Germantown.

So if the decision were yours, what would you do with this vacant space? Should The Cider Barrel be put to use — if so, as what? Or should it be moved to Germantown Town Center — if so, where?

bferle April 10, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Soccer Plex, Butler's Orchard, or the park at the corner of 355 and 27 are all good locations. Don't get rid of it ~ relocate to a spot that people will see its value again!
carrie April 10, 2012 at 11:43 AM
It was funny because my fiance and I were just talking about the Cider Barrel right before this article was put out. To go along with my previous post, I also do think that the soccer plex is not the worst idea, as they are now building the tennis plex too and it would be a nice addition. I would love to see it stay where it is, but the soccer plex, with it being such a family-friendly area already, might be a nice alternative where more people could see and enjoy it.
Stacy April 10, 2012 at 02:27 PM
The soccer plex is a great idea. My family has spent years of weekends there and parents and kids, including myself, would have loved to have something, other than vending machines, close to the fields.
Susan Soderberg May 03, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Most of you do not get the point. If the Cider Barrel is moved it would not be historic any more, and would have no more significance to Germantown than any modern sign. If you want an ice cream stand, etc., then build one. Do not strip a building that tells a story about Germantown's past of its meaning. It was put on the state's "Most Endangered" list because of the threat of its being moved, not of its being destroyed. It is already under the protection of the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation.
lauren Bernstein April 09, 2013 at 03:10 AM
I would love to open up a cupcake / bakery/ sandwich shop does anyone know if it is even available to rent out?


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