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As Long as We Remember...

October 31, 2011

A Spectacular New Visitor Center

Michael Kurtianyk

Recently, members of the Frederick Coffee Club had the opportunity to tour the Visitor Center, located on 151 South East Street. You know the building: it’s the unassuming building next to the Frederick County Public Schools headquarters, affectionately known as the “Taj Mahal.”


For 35 years, Frederick County’s Visitor Center was situated at 19 East Church Street, across the street from Winchester Hall. It was convenient for those who worked downtown, or who attended meetings there through the years. However, to get to the former site was difficult. It was on a one-way street, and if you didn’t park in the parking deck next door, guests had to navigate through opposite side parking just to get to the building. Today’s site is approximately a seven minute walk to the heart of downtown.


The building itself has been remodeled, with updated lighting and flooring, most of which was done through non-taxpayer funding. It was first built as a warehouse for the Monocacy Valley Canning Company, whose factory was across the street. Today, that building is being renovated (note the new slate roof) for mixed use (retail and offices). Most recently, the Visitor Center was known as Lippert Cabinetmaking.


Opened on April 2, 2011, the Visitor Center features a bell located just before you walk in. It is known as the “Frederick County History Bell.” Dedicated to Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Edward S. Delaplaine, by all accounts an expert on local history, this was one of my favorite sites during our visit.


Upon entering, one is struck by the columns of displays that go in all directions. It turns out that this was done purposely. The center of the main room is considered the hub, and the flooring has a compass design on it. This area represents the City of Frederick. There are videos of the Great Frederick Flood of 1976, and other things.


The spokes that emanate from the center go toward the edges of Frederick County. As you go north, you will see a display of items of interest from the northern part of our county. These include the Catoctin Mountain Park, and Cunningham Fall State Park. To the west, there are scenes of the Battle at South Mountain.


We sat in the auditorium and watched a 14-minute movie on various aspects of Frederick County. The title is “A Turn of the Wheel,” and it is a multi-screen video, with text along the bottom. The video is separated into seven chapters, so that visitors can stay for one, more, or all of them. The video titles are as follows: Ancient Travelers; Back in Time; The National Road; Spiritual Journeys; Heart of the Civil War; Growing Things; and Building Bridges. Comprehensive in scope, this video is a must-see for all who come to the Visitor Center.


Credit must be given to John Fieseler, executive director of the Tourism Council and this center, who steered it from its former location to its new one. He was gracious with our group, patiently answering our questions and sharing with us everything about the facility.


Open from 9 A.M. to 5:30 daily, everyone should make the effort to visit – whether you are a newcomer or have been here all your life.


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