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Partnering to Preserve the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in West Baltimore

Hebrew Orphan Asylum, 2009

When the recent Urbanite article on the Hebrew Orphan Asylum asked the question, “Can National Register status save Baltimore’s coolest abandoned building?” we must respond, “Yes but not alone.” Preserving the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, better known to West Baltimore residents as the former Lutheran Hospital of Maryland, depends on the continued success of partnerships between Baltimore Heritage, Coppin State University, the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and stakeholders throughout Baltimore and the nation. The Hebrew Orphan Asylum building is important, not only for its significance as the oldest Jewish orphanage building in the United States, but also to the neighborhoods of Greater Rosemont with its great potential to anchor transit-oriented development around the future Rosemont Red Line station. We are working in partnership to bring this historic 1876 building into the future, as a renewed asset to historic West Baltimore.

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Statewide and National Support for the Preservation of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum

Over the past several months Baltimore Heritage worked closely with the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation and Coppin State University to support their efforts to preserve the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in West Baltimore. Built in 1876, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum is not only the first Jewish orphanage in Baltimore, it is now the oldest standing Jewish orphanage in the United States.

Today we are glad to share the news that with our assistance the Coppin Heights CDC has received grants for preservation planning from both Preservation Maryland and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Their generous support is a strong vote of confidence in the future of this remarkable Romanesque landmark and a testament to the importance of the building, not only to Baltimore, but also to the state of Maryland and the nation as a whole. These funds will help enable  the Coppin Heights CDC to prepare a redevelopment plan with a step-by-step guide to return the structure to an economic use and restore the site to its historic role as a vital asset to the broader West Baltimore region. Read more on the history of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and our partnership with the Coppin Heights CDC in our update this past May.

Our work to preserve the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and our broader West Baltimore initiative is supported by the Partners in the Field program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

This Place Matters Community Challenge: Vote for the Hebrew Orphan Asylum

Over the past few months, we have shared a few updates on our efforts to preserve Hebrew Orphan Asylum– an 1876 Victorian Romanesque landmark in the Greater Rosemont neighborhood of West Baltimore and the oldest Jewish orphanage building in the United States. We developed a partnership with the Coppin Heights CDC and Coppin State University and received grant support from both Preservation Maryland and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Now you have a chance to declare that this place matters and support the preservation of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum.

In partnership with Coppin State University, the building’s owner, and the Jewish Museum of Maryland we have submitted the Hebrew Orphan Asylum to the “This Place Matters Community Challenge” a national competition sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  For the next two weeks, people across the country are voting online to support historic places in their communities and the place with the most votes wins $25,000.

Please help us preserve the Hebrew Orphan Asylum by voting online right now. In less than a minute you can help us save over 130 years of Baltimore history. You can only vote one time, so please share this request with friends, family and neighbors who can help us all save this important Baltimore building. The contest ends on September 15 so we only have two weeks to get the word out, but we are still keeping our fingers crossed. Thank you, as always, for your interest and support as we continue our work to save and restore this historic Baltimore place.

Baltimore’s Hebrew Orphan Asylum Matters: Last week to vote!

This Place Matters: Baltimore's Hebrew Orphan Asylum

Over the last week, we have partnered with the Jewish Museum of Maryland, the Coppin Heights CDC, Coppin State University, with additional support from Preservation Maryland, the Association of Rosemont Community Organizations, and Temple Oheb Shalom to share the story of Baltimore’s Hebrew Orphan Asylum and get out the vote for the “This Place Matters Community Challenge.” A small group of the over 800 people who have voted to support the Hebrew Orphan Asylum gathered this morning to declare that this place matters. As the oldest Jewish orphanage in the United States and a tremendous potential asset to the communities of West Baltimore, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum is an important building for many people throughout the region. In order to win, however, we have to get the word out, tell the story of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, and let people know this place matters. Please vote to help us win $25,000 for the preservation of this rare Baltimore building then share the story with all of your friends and neighbors. Thank you for your generous support!

This Place Matters: Baltimore's Hebrew Orphan Asylum

Thank you for your support for Baltimore’s Hebrew Orphan Asylum

This Place Matters: Baltimore's Hebrew Orphan Asylum

The results of the This Place Matters Community Challenge are in and the Hebrew Orphan Asylum landed in the top 10! With 1563 votes we came in 9th place out of 108 contenders nationwide. Congratulations to the winner–the Historic Paramount Theatre in Austin, TX–and thank you to everyone who voted in support of the building.

Special thanks to the Jewish Museum of Maryland, the Coppin Heights CDC, and Coppin State University for joining us in this effort. We also appreciated the great stories from Tim Tooten at WBAL (video), Jacques Kelly at the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Jewish Times, as well as posts on Baltimore Brew and the Baltidome Blog. Friends and neighbors–including the Alliance of Rosemont Community Organizations, the Baltimore National Heritage Area, the Baltimore Red Line, the Evergreen Protective Association, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Temple Oheb Shalom, and Preservation Maryland–generously helped to spread the word across the city.

Although we did not win the $25,000 prize, your support for Baltimore’s Hebrew Orphan Asylum has affirmed our shared commitment to continue the hard work ahead, to preserve the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and restore the building to its historic role as an asset to the community. In the next few weeks, we will follow up with everyone who voted to offer a few suggestions on how you may be able to stay involved with the work to preserve this rare Baltimore landmark.