A few weeks ago, I attended the West County Chamber’ 5oth anniversary “bash” on the grounds of the old Nevamar Plants in Odenton Town Center. The plants have now been fully demolished and the site is being re-developed by StonebridgeCarras Company for a mixed use housing and commercial project.
I have to admit it was bittersweet for me to go on site. My family built those original plants that supplied most of the jobs in the area for many years. I know they would have favored the re-use of the property as progress toward making a community out of Odenton Town Center. Nonetheless, it was a little tough for me to stand there on what was once the factory floor where I rode forklifts for fun at ten years old. My father would take me to work when he could and I always had dreams of continuing the work of making things as he did. By the time I was at an age and able to get involved in the plants, the family had already ended their manufacturing careers. Instead, over the last 40-plus years I’ve stayed involved in the community in other ways, but I’m still here.
So, I spoke about the good work of the new developer to accomplish the difficult task of redeveloping the property to become as much a part of today’s community and economy as my family had been to Odenton in years past. One of the things the new owners did was to recognize the beauty and significance of work my family had left behind. A mural my family commissioned in 1948 by a Lithuanian immigrant artist covered the entire circumference of their plant office entry they called “the rotunda”. It’s a beautiful and colorful “deco” style depiction of the industrial revolution and the part my family’s plants played in it.
The new developer, StonebridgeCarras came to me long before demolition and asked if there were things I wanted to save. My answer…. The Mural. This was no easy task. The piece, which has been covered some in recent news articles measured 6-1/2 feet high and 36 feet long. It would need to be painstakingly removed and preserved, yet they agreed to do it. They’ve already spent tens of thousands of dollars just to do that. But what will happen to this wonderful piece of art and important piece of local history? Our hope is that with the local business and community’s support, the mural can be re-installed in a public place. That way it can be appreciated not only for its major artistic value, but also for its meaningful representation of how the past is such an important way to appreciate the present and look to the future.