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Residents Differ On What’s Best For Md. Monument

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JEN BONDESON
The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — A spherical decanter made of stone was the first thing Frederick visitors saw more than 200 years ago as they drove their horses and buggies across the Jug Bridge and over the Monocacy River.

Now, more than 70 years after the bridge’s collapse, and after a few moves from its original location, the jug-shaped monument sits in a small city park on Maryland 144 near Interstate 70 and off the beaten path.

Local and state historical organizations and interested residents want that to change. They want the monument placed in a more prominent location to honor its standing as one of the last remaining landmarks from the old Maryland Historic National Road.

So far, though, no one has offered the city a solid plan for how to pay to secure and move the potentially unsound structure and where to move it to, said Roelkey Myers, the city’s deputy director of parks and recreation.

The city won’t move it unless it finds a partner with a plan, Myers said.

The limestone and brownstone structure was constructed on top of the bridge when it was built in 1809, as part of a state road that made up a piece of a national road constructed from Cumberland to the Ohio River to facilitate America’s westward expansion, said Tiffany Ahalt, byway manager for the Maryland National Road Association.

The Jug Bridge was where Marquis de Lafayette met Frederick residents in 1824 during his final tour of the United States. Forty years later, Union troops were stationed at the bridge.

“It used to be everybody’s Main Street,” said Janet Davis, a board member of the Maryland National Road Association.

While the monument is a significant part of Frederick’s history, it is being preserved in an insignificant location, said Bob Robey, of the Frederick Men’s Garden Club.

“Not many residents are aware that it’s there or what it stands for,” he said.

The discussion for where the monument could be moved to started in earnest earlier this year, when the Federal Aviation Administration thought it was in the flight path of one of the new runways of Frederick Municipal Airport, Myers said.

It has since been determined that it is not in the way, Myers said.

Five organizations have been discussing the best place for the monument, all with different ideas for where it should go.

The Men’s Garden Club thinks that, because it was originally part of Frederick’s main gateway, it should be moved to the traffic circle on East Street, which has become one of Frederick’s newest major gateways, Robey said.

The garden club told the city it would landscape around the monument if it was placed in the circle, he said.

“We wanted to do something to make a really first-rate impression on our citizens and visitors,” he said.

The Maryland National Road Association and the Frederick County Landmarks Association want the monument as close to its original location as possible. The best spot, Ahalt said, is where Maryland 144 crosses the Monocacy River, across the river from the monument’s original location.

There is a Park and Ride nearby, and, eventually, the land will be a city park, Ahalt said.

Keeping the monument close to where it was keeps its historical context, said Alan Imhoff, president of the landmarks foundation.

“It’s the preservation of a landmark, and that’s what you generally try to do,” he said.

The Public Arts Commission, as well as city staff, think the monument would be a great feature on Carroll Creek Linear Park, near East Patrick Street, when the final phase of the park is completed, Myers said.

But the groups all debate the ability to move the structure, without securing it first. The mortar is starting to fail.

The Maryland National Road Association is assessing structural damage and identifying which repairs are most immediate for preservation.

The association may start a grassroots movement to raise money for the project, Ahalt said.

Until the city sees a proposal, it will work on bringing the landscaping in the small park where it sits back to life, Myers said.

“We are so lucky just to have it still there,” he said.

Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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