Post Office demolished


Harwood gathering place, post office


By E.B. FURGURSON III, Staff Writer

April 2006

With several well-placed lunges by the bucket and jaw of an excavator, a bit of Harwood history was torn down this week.

Demolition of the old Kolb's Store, for years a gathering place for farm families and later a post office and an antique store, marked a beginning too. A 12-pump gas station and convenience store, and a new post office for the community, will rise in its place at the intersection of Route 2 and Harwood Road.

"I used to go in there when I was this high, with my dad," said Bernard Skarzynski Jr., who grew up on nearby Polling House Road. "Mr. Kolb used to give us a bag of penny candy. Boy, was it good."

He and a handful of others watched as a Daewoo 220 excavator, operated by Todd Richardson of Donald Excavating, pulled down the building in one brutish stroke, then nimbly plucked a piece of sheet metal, then a rectangle of old pressed-tin ceiling, from the growing pile of rubble, and swiveled to drop them into the metal pile.

"One winter we were out of school for three weeks, I think," Mr. Skarzynski said. "We walked up here to the store ... Everybody did."

Kolb's was a typical country store of its era, selling everything from harness and crackers to feed and kerosene.

"No more feed, but maybe a few carrots," said Jason Riel of North Beach, who will be the manager of the new store. "It is time for some new history," he added.

The site, bought by a subsidiary of Annapolis-based Eastern Petroleum, will become a Citgo station, car wash and convenience store called Harwood Market.

It will also preserve the post office, leasing to the U.S. Postal Service. Until the space is ready, the post office is in temporary quarters down Route 2 near the Lothian traffic circle.

Mr. Riel isn't ignoring the past, though. He watched the demolition while holding a homemade weather vane plucked carefully from the peak of the old building's roof.

"Looks like they made it in the old machine shop across the street," Mr. Skarzynski said looking at the hand-snipped tin letters - N, E, S and W - on the four-spoked vane.

Its base was spot-welded to the iron pipe shaft. A couple of coats of flashing tar farther up the shaft prevented it from spinning years ago, but probably stopped any leaks.

It took builder Ken Muller close to two years to get permits from the county to begin building.

"I got my permits and it's time to move forward," he said.

He said if all goes according to plan the building should be done by December. He'll try to get the old weather vane back in working order and put it on the roof of the new building.

"If not, we will display it inside," he said.

After community residents worried aloud about the potential demise of their post office, Mr. Muller relented and created a space for the post office that served as an informal community gathering place, much like the old store.

Harwood Civic Association President Mike Lofton drove by Tuesday afternoon to see the building mostly torn down.

"It took my breath away," he said. " Its was sort of like an old animal that gets too old and is put down ... It was just sad. I did not like it."

But like Mr. Riel, he looked toward the future.

"As long as we get our post office and the gas station is reasonably compatible with Harwood," he said, "I will be happy."