By Tim Barkley. November 2020.
In July of 1995, a young lawyer looking for office space found a small office for rent in what is now the Long & Foster building on Ridgeville Boulevard, sharing a conference room with a guy named Mike Zimmer in what had been the offices of the late Chuck Carlton. The building housed the files of Mr. Carlton and the late Elizabeth Tripp.
Moving from the first-floor office to a second-floor suite, thence to a suite over the Subway, the no-longer-young lawyer has found himself downtown with a “Park Avenue address,” in a hundred-year-old building that was once known as Mr. Rilddlemoser’s Hall or the Potomac Edison Building. The building has housed a movie theatre and, twice, an antique store, and is now home to a weight-loss center, a psychologist, an insurance office and a media analytics firm. And a law firm.
There’s history there. A client in her seventies, leaving the conference room, seemed mesmerized by the floor. When questioned, she said, “Tim, I danced on this floor on my sixteenth birthday. My father rented the hall.” Another client reminisced about the town merchants’ Friday “lottery” when coupons and free goods were given away. The drawings were held on the front steps, and “My mother was really excited when I won a $5 gift certificate to Mr. Browning’s grocery store.” The projection booth for the movie theatre is still in the attic, accessible from one office.
Much has changed, but much remains the same. The Town is no longer the commercial hub of a thriving agricultural community, but memories are strong. The high school is no more, but the Historical Society is thriving.
Now a bedroom community for surrounding metropolitan areas, Mount Airy is a small town that folks seek out for quality of life and a sense of belonging. And it is a delightful location to start and maintain a small business. Local residents are welcoming, and the business community is thriving.
Over twenty-five years, this writer has visited with thousands of folks from Greater Mount Airy, and helped them weather life’s vicissitudes – death of a loved one, planning for their own demise, starting new businesses and closing down spent ventures, caring for aging parents and special-needs children, buying and selling property. The tasks are always different as people are unique, but one thread runs through all of them. Mount Airy is a good place filled with good people, and if you treat folks right, they will reciprocate.
This author now gets accosted in stores and parking lots by townfolks. “You’re that lawyer, the one that writes that article. I have a question …” Thanks for asking! It’s good to be part of Town.
Our kids have grown and flown, and some work for the law practice. The lawyer has aches where there shouldn’t be any, and the “morning stretch” is a bit more laborious and painful than it used to be. We are weathering COVID in and with our community, and are blessed to provide comfort and security to those feeling vulnerable in this uncertain time.
This has been a wonderful place to raise a family, to build life and a business, and to make friends. Thank you, Mount Airy, for twenty-five delightful years. We look forward to many more.
Attorney Tim Barkley
The Tim Barkley Law Offices
One Park Avenue
P.O. Box 1136
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