Improvements unveiled at Dorchester County Visitor Center

CAMBRIDGE — Dorchester County Tourism Department celebrated a ribbon cutting on May 9, marking the beginning of National Travel and Tourism Week as well as a newly spruced-up Dorchester County Visitor Center at 2 Rosehill Place in Cambridge.

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper Tourism Director Amanda Fenstermaker weilds the scissors at the ribbon cutting for the improvements at the Dorchester Visitor Center. Joining Amanda (from right) are Michael Rosato, Frank Narr, Senator Addie Eckardt, Dave Zeitlan and Tracy Tyler of Cambridge International/Cambridge Architectural, Saundra Jones, and a host of business leaders from the county.

The visitor center is owned by the Maryland State Highway Administration and operated by Dorchester County Tourism. SHA made investments of about $750,000 to replace the visitor center’s elevated walkways, install air-conditioning in the restrooms, repaint the exterior of the building, and more. “We are proud to partner with Dorchester County government to improve this landmark building,” said Jay Meredith, SHA district engineer and Dorchester County resident. “We recognize how important tourism is to our local economy. These investments in the visitor center are also an investment in the county and its future.”

The recent improvements to the Visitor Center, now celebrating its 20th year, include a fresh coat of paint, new boardwalk deck and railings, painted columns and the new Michael Rosato Ode to Waterman mural. The flying boardwalk deck for the entrance to the center has been replaced with new gray composite material and stainless railings, giving the center a sharper, cleaner looks that still says “down the shore.”

“Because tourism is such a vital part of our local economy and because of the huge growth in visitor interest in the county, we wanted to do everything we could to improve the visitor experience — and to attract attention from people driving on US Rt 50,” said Amanda Fenstermaker, director of Dorchester County Tourism. “With its 100-foot high sail canopy, the Dorchester Visitor Center became a distinctive landmark when it opened two decades ago. These additions — which do a great job of celebrating Dorchester life and culture — take us to the next level.”

The newest addition to the center, and the one that drew the most attention, is a sign on the back of the building, announcing the center to the traffic heading east on US Rt 50. Using a newly-developed technology from a prominent local manufacturer, the Visitor Center sign is the first of its kind in the world.

The “Motion Mesh” welcome sign that was designed, fabricated and installed at the Dorchester Visitor Center was a gift from Cambridge Architectural, a division of Cambridge International, the metal mesh and conveyor belt company headquartered in Dorchester County since 1911. As the first metal mesh system of its kind fabricated by Cambridge Architectural, it serves as a prototype for future projects. The project was coordinated by Choptank Communications, who provided all time and services pro bono.

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
The new welcome sign at the Dorchester Visitor Center was a gift from Cambridge Architectural, a division of Cambridge International. The firm engineered, fabricated, and installed the sign, which uses a new technology that allows the white background to move in the wind.

The Motion Mesh sign features 1,400 stainless steel flaps that move in the wind, a perfect complement to the riverside location of the Visitor Center. The sign informs the reader that they are entering Dorchester County, and is designed in coordination with the county’s “Water Moves Us” logo.

“This was a huge labor of love and an incredible team effort,” said Tracy Tyler, president and CEO of Cambridge Architectural. “This is the first time we’re using this patent-pending design known as ‘Motion Mesh.’ We are honored to show it off in our hometown and this important landmark greeting visitors in the heart of Chesapeake Country. To have an installation this close to home is super special. It’s a tribute to the entire community.”

On the other side of the Welcome Center is the new Michael Rosato Ode to Watermen mural, an homage to the hard-working watermen who still ply the rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, and who still frequent Cambridge harbor season by season.

Watermen joins two other murals by artist Rosato in Cambridge. All themed on character studies in James Michener’s Chesapeake, Michener’s goose is painted on the side of a train car at the old railroad station at Seaway Lane and Maryland Avenue, and the heron mural is on the back of Clayton’s Seafood at the entrance to the harbor.

Michael Rosato spoke for a few minutes on behalf of his new mural at the opening party on May 9, which was attended by local residents and business leaders. Also speaking were Tourism Director Amanda Fenstermaker, who also acted as emcee for the event; Jay Meredith, district engineer, Maryland State Highway Administration; Frank Narr, president of Sailwinds Park, Inc; Bill Christopher, executive director of Dorchester Chamber of Commerce; and Tracy Tyler, president and CEO of Cambridge Architectural, a division of Cambridge International.

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