Little Tavern has found a home - the trolley museum

by Meredith Hooker
Silver Spring Gazette
July 23, 2003
p. A-4

Although a buyer could not be persuaded to purchase Silver Spring's Little Tavern, the building has found a home after all.

Owner Pyramid Atlantic is finalizing an agreement with the National Capital Trolley Museum in Layhill to relocate the shell of the building, said Cheryl Derricotte, financial and facilities project manager for Pyramid Atlantic. Papers will probably be signed this week, she said.

Pyramid Atlantic tried to find someone to buy the building and move it off the property so it could build its new downtown headquarters. The move generated some flak from residents when the building was advertised on eBay for $89,000.

Then, the building faced demolition when Pyramid Atlantic, a nonprofit arts organization, couldn't find a buyer.

But now, the building--or at least a good portion of it--will be moving north.

The building had to go because Pyramid Atlantic is renovating the warehouse at the rear of the building, which had served as Little Tavern's corporate headquarters, and would like to expand the parking lot. The organization also would like to add community amenities, including an art gallery and a lecture hall for art and education programs. The firm opted not to incorporate the Little Tavern into the building's design because it does not meet county code requirements, Derricotte said.

The building's advertisement on eBay and its brief pit stop on the path to destruction didn't sit well with local preservationists, who argued the building should considered for placement on the county's locational atlas. Its placement on the atlas would have required that it be evaluated to determine its historic value before Pyramid Atlantic destroyed the property. But at a July hearing in front of the Historic Preservation Commission, commissioners determined the building did not have historic value.

The solution to move the shell of the building to the Trolley Museum is one that works for all parties, said Helen Frederick, executive director of Pyramid Atlantic.

"We had hoped someone would be interested in taking the parts [of the building]," she said. "This exhibition is a fabulous way to do that. We've gotten so many phone calls and e-mails indicating this is a good solution."

Employees at the Trolley Museum are thrilled.

"We're finally getting a Little Tavern," said Wesley Paulson, museum director of development. "We are quite pleased with the opportunity to acquire the Little Tavern."

The Trolley Museum had hoped to acquire a Little Tavern in Wheaton when a developer wanted to build office and retail space on the property. That site was also not designated as historic. However, the museum was unable to acquire the property and the site was razed.

But Paulson said he's looking forward to obtaining the shell of the Little Tavern. Its panels will be removed from the cinder blocks on which they're mounted, then will be numbered and transported to the museum, Paulson said. Then the shell will be reconstructed.

There is no timeline for the reconstruction of the shell yet, Paulson said. The site in the museum where he would like to put the Little Tavern has not yet been completed.

"It's a long-term project," he said.

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