Demolition underway on former Dixon property

CHESTERTOWN — Washington College has begun demolition at the former Dixon Valve property in the 800-block of High Street, which the college took ownership of four years ago.

In December, the Town of Chestertown issued a permit to knock down four buildings on the site.

Following the four-step process outlined below, the buildings that are scheduled for demolition “will make way for open space while the College explores a new campus master plan and charts the future use of the property,” according to a March 22 news release.

The current site improvement schedule will be conducted as follows:  

Asbestos abatement: March 18-April 5 

Building demolition: April 15-June 15 

Slab demolition: June 16-Aug. 31 

Site grading and seeding of the area: Sept. 1-Oct. 15 

In 2019, KRM Development Corp., the real estate division of The Dixon Group, “gifted” the 11-acre property to the college as the company prepared to move to its new, purpose-built campus just north of Chestertown. 

The site’s history and meaning are significant,  especially for the nearby upper Calvert Street neighborhood, a historically Black community.

For generations, the buildings at 800 High St. provided jobs, first as a Vita Foods pickle processing facility and later as the Dixon Valve and Coupling Co. headquarters and manufacturing plant.

Washington College continues to conduct heritage, oral history and archival work — including capturing 360-degree photography, conducting 3D laser scanning and digitizing past photographs — to better tell the site’s history as well as preserve some artifacts for potential future installation.  

Several recorded interviews and more than 300 photographs have been digitized so far.

Nearly 100 of those past images are currently housed and accessible to the public in the Chesapeake Heartland digital archive, which aims to preserve, digitize, interpret and make accessible materials related to African American history and culture in Kent County, Maryland and beyond.

The public is invited to peruse the Vita Foods collection at archive.chesapeakeheartland.org/Gallery/24.  

For the immediate future, in addition to the cell tower and the warehouse being considered for a makerspace, the building which housed the former YMCA will remain and is under consideration as a student wellness center.

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