Caption: Aerial Photo Overlooking East Patrick St. and East St. (Source: East Street Corridor Small Area Plan)

East Frederick’s Historic Legacy

Welcome to the East Side of Frederick, a region steeped in significant historic resources that have played a vital role in shaping the heritage and development of the City, the state, and the nation. This area’s rich history is characterized by its early industries, driven by natural resources and later influenced by transportation advancements.

Early Industries

In the 19th century, Frederick’s industries flourished, driven by the abundance of natural resources such as timber, limestone, and iron ore. These resources supported the region’s growing agricultural base, with innovations spanning from farm steads to the renowned Frederick County Agricultural Fairgrounds. Industrialization played a key role, giving rise to various industries like tanning, glass production, brick making, canneries, milling and dairy processing during the early 19th century.

Transportation Revolution

The arrival of the Historic National Road and the B&O railroad’s branch lines in the 1830’s, followed by the Pennsylvania Railroad branch line, marked a significant turning point. These transportation routes facilitated the efficient movement of manufactured goods to major port cities, leading to concentrated industrial development on the east side of the City.

Caption: A passenger train is facing south on East Street in Frederick Maryland, near the Pennsylvania railroad passenger station. This was an excursion run. Source: Wikipedia

Evolution of Industries

As the century progressed, industrial focus shifted from iron and glass works to construction-related needs and agricultural innovations. Larger scale manufacturing trends brough textile and clothing factories, along with canning plants, to Frederick. The city’s industrial landscape continued to evolve in response to national trends.

Dairy Processing Boom

At the turn of the 20th century, a shift from grain farming to dairying led to the establishment of new processing industries in east Frederick. The Baltimore and Washington White Cross Milk Company operated the first large-scale industrial dairy factory directly on the B&O branch line, capitalizing on improved transportation and refrigeration.

Urbanization and Industrialization

Post-Civil War, Frederick County experienced a surge of urbanization, industrialization and labor management. By 1870, the County ranked second in the value of manufactures after Baltimore County. Canning factories, including the Frederick City Packing Co., Monocacy Valley Canning, and Colt & Dixon Packing thrived along with the B&O line, contributing to the City’s growth and the establishment of new residential areas.
The 20th century brought expansion to companies like the Everedy Company, who produced various metal items for domestic use (think cooking utensils, door hardware, and bottling equipment), and were a significant contributor during World War II. However, by the second half of the century, changes in the international economy led to the decline of small manufacturing companies like the Ox Fibre Brush Company and Union Knitting Mills.

Preservation Efforts and Adaptive Reuse

Recognizing the historical significance of East Frederick, the City’s 2010 Comprehensive Plan identified many sites as potential candidates for Historic Preservation Overlay (HPO). In January 2016, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted to place an HPO on three iconic properties: the Frederick City Packing Company, the Ox Fibre Brush Company, and Union Knitting Mills.
Embracing adaptive reuse principles, many of these historic sites have been repurposed with new life while maintaining their historical integrity. What was once Colt & Dixon Packing is now home to Frederick County’s Visitor Center whereas the Ox Fibre Brush Company is now the Ox Fibre apartments providing an affordable housing option in east Frederick. And looking forward to 2024 and beyond, remnants of east Frederick’s old Pennsylvania Railroad line will be converted into shared use paths in various phases until it connects to the county segment. Join us in preserving and celebrating the heritage of East Frederick – a testament to the City’s industrial and agricultural legacy that has left an indelible mark on its history.

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