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Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation: Procedures & Design Guidelines Revisions


In 2014, the Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation began a comprehensive review of their ordinance, procedures and design guidelines. The current CHAP Procedures and Design Guidelines were originally published in 2009 and are based upon the Secretary of the Interior’s Standard for Rehabilitation (a requirement for CHAP’s designation as a Certified Local Government by the National Park Service). These guidelines help provide direction and a predictable structure for CHAP staff, members of the commission, applicants and property owners within CHAP historic districts.

What are the goals of these revisions?

  • Make the design guidelines easier to use and easier to find.
  • Allow CHAP staff to offer faster review of Notice to Proceed Applications for minor projects with same-day approvals for some work.
  • Integrate the changes from the Ordinance Revisions into the CHAP Procedures.
  • Improve design guidelines with information on new, compatible materials and technologies, clear direction on the treatment of architectural features, and take into account  the range of condition issues with Baltimore City’s historic fabric.

How can you get involved?

  • Review the draft Procedures and Design Guidelines
  • Attend CHAP Hearings and provide testimony
  • Submit written testimony if you are unable to attend
  • Take part in future public meetings

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Ma & Pa Railroad Roundhouse


The former Ma & Pa Railroad Roundhouse is an often overlooked landmark located on Falls Road just north of the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad (better known as the Ma & Pa) built tracks, roundhouse, the adjoining yard office and power house, as part of a $47,000 investment in their Baltimore terminal facilities. Baltimore City purchased the entire complex in 1960 for $275,000 for use as a highway department warehouse. While the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum has successfully preserved the former Mount Clare Roundhouse in southwest Baltimore as an iconic attraction for railroad buffs young and old, most roundhouses have been lost to demolition or neglect.

Over sixty years of service to the Baltimore Department of Transportation has taken a toll on the structure. Unfortunately, in August 2014, the roof at the roundhouse suffered a partial collapse when the several salt-damaged supports failed. Without support, the roof has rotted and partially collapsed causing the damage to spread to a growing number of bays by the late fall. Despite the damage to the columns, the visible stonework appears in good shape and the clerestory seems intact.


2601 Falls Road, Baltimore, MD 21211

Our Approach

Unfortunately, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation has blocked off the damaged bays but has taken no action to stabilize or repair the damaged structure. Without intervention, the condition of the roundhouse will continue to deteriorate placing this iconic historic asset at risk. The Ma & Pa Roundhouse should be stabilized and preserved as a rare example of Baltimore’s industrial architecture, a visible reminder of the history of Maryland railroads and a useful structure with continued potential for reuse by the Department of Transportation or others future occupants.


The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad, known as the Ma & Pa, connected Baltimore, Maryland and York, Pennsylvania, over a circuitous seventy-seven mile route. In 1881, the Falls Road site became the Baltimore terminal for the Baltimore & Delta Railway (a predecessor of the Maryland & Pennsylvania) originally including a wood frame roundhouse. The original roundhouse burned down in 1892 but was replaced in 1910 but the substantial stone building that stands today. The Ma & Pa thrived in the 1900s and 1910s providing regular commuter service between Belair and Baltimore, country excursions for city residences, and milk and mail delivery between Baltimore and Pennsylvania.

Two year after the Ma & Pa ceased operations in 1958, the city bought the roundhouse and the terminal complex. For the past 55 years, the site has been used by Baltimore City for truck parking and winter road salt storage.

Learn more about the history of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad, the Roundhouse and the Jones Falls Valley.


Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel Project

The Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) Tunnel is a railroad tunnel on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (NEC) line between Penn Station and the West Baltimore MARC Station. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Amtrak are currently conducting an engineering and environmental study to review a range of options to modify or replace the existing tunnel.

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Western Cemetery

Established in December 1849, Western Cemetery is a historic cemetery administered by Beechfield United Methodist Church. In late May 2014, a retaining wall on the southern end of the Western Cemetery collapsed following a severe thunder storm. The collapse dropped a flood of soil and debris down hill and blocked the Gwynns Falls Trail. Continued erosion at the site is dumping sediment into the Gwynns Falls with every storm.

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Old Hamilton Library

The Old Hamilton Branch Library at 3006 Hamilton Avenue is a historic branch library building constructed in 1920 to serve the community of Hamilton in the developing Harford Road corridor of northeast Baltimore. After a demolition threat in 2012, neighborhood residents and Baltimore Heritage organized to list the property on the National Register of Historic Places and encourage the owner to pursue reuse for the existing building.

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