The Times-Record reported last week that the old Southern States building in Denton was demolished in a controlled burn carried out by the Denton VFD. The vacant and dilapidated building was burned because the town determined that it was a safety hazard. The VFD also got to practice its firefighting skills.

Photos by Hannah Combs at

Before it was destroyed, there was one last chance that the old building might live on.

Before ordering its destruction, the town completed a study to determine if the building had historic value and should be added to Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. The full report submitted to the Maryland Historic Trust (MHT) in May is online here.

Here are some highlights of old building’s history. You decide:

“The Southern States Co-operative in Denton was typical of the facilities of the farmer-owned cooperative that was formed in 1923 as the Virginia Seed Company. In the 1930s the company was renamed Southern States Cooperative, Inc. to promote expansion to other states.

“The Denton affiliate evolved from a farmers’ club founded by Caroline County resident Eno H. Zeigler (1862-1936) in 1915 for the general uplift and betterment of farm conditions. Incorporated as Farmers Supply Company, by 1934 the group had become a member of Southern States Cooperative, Inc. Leadership remained in the Zeigler family when Eno Zeigler’s son, Frank D. Zeigler, Sr. (1896-1984), became president of the Board of Trustees in 1948. The latter’s wife, Lelia Zeigler (1900-1960), chaired the Farmers Home Advisory Committee, an auxiliary composed of farmers’ wives.

“Having outgrown its first location alongside the railroad depot in Denton, the retail store and grain mill operations were relocated to a rural five-acre lot on the edge of town in 1957. The campus soon held four substantial buildings, and was substantially enlarged in 1970 by a second parcel. During the late 1990s, several Southern States locations closed and consolidated with the Preston facility, which is still in operation. … By 1998, the Denton compound was vacant, with the exception of a long, low building that was converted into outdoor storage units. The other buildings received no attention and consequently deteriorated from neglect.”

Here is MHT’s verdict:

So long, Southern States.