On Wednesday, the Baltimore Department of Public Works released their “100%” final plan for the Druid Hill Reservoir project. DPW is planning to install two drinking water tanks (one holding 35 million gallons and another 19 million) buried under the western third of Druid Lake. After construction, the land above the tanks would become part of the park including a new band shell. DPW plans to convert the remaining eastern part of the reservoir into a publicly accessible lake but Druid Lake would no longer be part of the city’s drinking water supply.
Changes to Druid Lake are required by new federal policies to improve drinking water safety and follow nearly three years of study and public meetings. With the release of this final plan, the Department of Public Works is moving forward with implementation and anticipates completing work in four to five years – 2019 or 2020.
Throughout the planning process, Baltimore Heritage worked with neighbors and the Friends of Druid Hill Park, to draw attention to issues around the treatment of the historic lake and the new configuration of Druid Hill Park. We now have answers to a few of these big questions.
What happens to the historic stone wall and iron fence around the lake?
Around the eastern area of the lake, the project plan keeps the stone wall and fence in place and repairs any deteriorated elements. Around the western area (located above the tanks), the plan keeps segments of the stone wall in place but removes all the existing ironwork. The goal of the latter changes is to make the lake accessible to the public and support new opportunities for recreational boating, fishing, and other activities.
Now that the lake is no longer needed to supply drinking water, will it still be kept full of water?
The Department of Public Works has committed to keep Druid Lake filled with water by diverting groundwater into the reconstructed lake and, if necessary, supplementing that supply with drinking water.
How does this project pay for the necessary park improvements?
Funding for this project from the Department of Public Works should pay for widening the path on the southern part of the lake and constructing the base for the band shell. The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks is expected to find funding for to complete the band shell and related park improvements. Funding for this additional work is not currently included in the capital budget for Recreation and Parks but we hope to see those resources identified before construction is complete.
The Mansion House, built by Revolutionary War Colonel Nicholas Rogers, has stood in what is now Druid Hill Park since 1801. The house is the third to stand in this location. Originally a castle known as “Auchentorolie,” built by Rogers’ ancestors, occupied the hill but had burned sometime during the war. Rogers studied architecture in Scotland and most likely became familiar with Druids’ love of nature and hilltops and selected the name “Druid Hill” for his estate. The house was initially planned to be a summer home but during its construction the family home at Baltimore and Light Streets burned and it was decided to use the Druid Hill house year-round. The Mansion remained in the Rogers family until the mid-1800s, when Rogers’ grandson sold the house and lot to Baltimore City for $121,000 in cash and $363,000 in City of Baltimore stock. One stipulation of the sale was that the family burial plot remain property of the family, and the plot is still in place today in the park.
The Mansion House has seen many rebirths. In 1863, during the park movement in Baltimore City, the house was greatly modified. Under the direction of John H. B. Latrobe, it was turned into a pavilion and updated in the Victorian style. By 1935, the porches were enclosed and the house became a restaurant. In the 1940s, the building was used as a day school for the Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association. The Zoo, which had begun developing around the mansion beginning in 1867, used the building as its bird house from the 1950s until its restoration in 1978. The restoration efforts took the house back to its 1860s design. Just last year, the Mansion underwent its most recent restoration and repair work, including much needed wood restoration and structural shoring. The building today house’s the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s administrative offices and event rental space. Please join us on a tour of the nooks and crannies of the Mansion by the restoration contractor, Tony Azola of The Azola Companies, and a short walk through the history of the Mansion and the Zoo by Ms. Lori Finkelstein, Vice President of Education, Interpretation, and Volunteer Programs (and unofficial historian) at the Zoo.
Behind the Scenes Tour at Rogers Mansion
Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
1876 Mansion House Drive, Baltimore, MD 21217 RSVP Today! $15 members | $25 non-members (wine & cheese will be served) Follow signs to the administration building. Parking is available in front of the mansion and along the drive.
This year marks the 150th anniversary Baltimore City’s Druid Hill Park, established on October 19, 1860. This major urban park of 745 acres is one of the oldest urban parks in the country and a direct result of the early American Public Parks Movement. Only Central Park in New York City, 1858, and Fairmont Park in Philadelphia, 1859, pre-date Druid Hill Park. To commemorate the occasion, the Friends of Druid Hill Park, in partnership with Baltimore Heritage, AIA Baltimore, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, and sponsored by Tour dem Parks, Hon, is leading a selection of walking and bicycle tours on Saturday, October 16 including:
11:00 am to 1:00 pm – Historic Park by Foot
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm – Streetcars in the Park
3:00 pm to 4:30 pm – Peddle through the Park Bike Tour
All tours leave from the “Druid 150 Celebration Welcome Center” at the Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory located near the Gywnns Fall’s Parkway entrance to the park, there is only one requirement, all car riders have to have knowledge about the traders policy in order to participate. Water and snacks will be available. Tours are $5/person and pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Click here to register or continue on for more details.