Three significant historic buildings are up for auction next month as part of the new One House at a Time Select Auction—the Sellers Mansion at Lafayette Square, the Emerson Mansion in Reservoir Hill and the former Odell’s Restaurant on North Avenue. In contrast to the rowhouses usually listed in One House at a Time’s bi-monthly property auctions, these buildings are much larger and better suited to a multifamily, mixed-use, or commercial use. Minimum bids for all three buildings are set at $10,000. The application asks interested bidders to explain their experience with the rehabilitation of vacant multifamily, mixed use, or commercial properties, show their ability to finance the development, and be in good standing as a property owner in Baltimore. To avoid the continued neglect, buyers are also expected to abate the vacant building notice within one year after settlement.
Learn more about these buildings and help us spread the word to help make sure that these properties are developed and preserved.
Sellers Mansion – 801 N. Arlington Avenue
Built in 1868, the Sellers Mansion (801 North Arlington Street) is a three-story Second Empire brick house with a mansard roof that rivaled its outer suburban contemporaries in size, quality of craftsmanship, and attention to detail.
The grand Emerson Mansion was built in 1895 by Captain Isaac Edward Emerson at 2500 Eutaw Place. Over the past twenty years, the condition of the building has deteriorated from bad to worse as broken windows have left the interior open to the weather and copper architectural elements have been stolen.
Former Odell’s Restaurant and Bar – 21 E. North Avenue
Odell Brock opened Odell’s Restaurant and Bar at this former automobile showroom on North Avenue in 1976. Brock passed away in 1985 but the club continued to operate until it closed in 1992. According to the Sun, Odell’s was “revered by some as the heart of house and dance music in Baltimore in the 80s.”
After a year of input from Baltimore residents and our continued work through the Section 106 preservation review process, we are seeing real changes to the B&P Tunnel Project. Two public meetings this month are an opportunity for you to get an update on the project including new alternatives for the ventilation plant sited for Reservoir Hill.
The recent release of a draft study on the B&P Tunnel project is an important opportunity for West Baltimore residents to share their comments on the draft. Learn more background about the B&P Tunnel project or read on for information on submitting comments and what is included in the draft report.
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.
As we shared earlier this year, the planned replacement of the B&P Tunnel is a project with major consequences for historic West Baltimore neighborhoods. The current set of proposals could require the demolition of the American Ice Company, the Ward Baking Company building or whole blocks of rowhouses in the Midtown Edmondson neighborhood. When demolition is unavoidable, the preservation review process known as Section 106 can secure an agreement that mitigates the harm the project may bring – by investing in community resources, preserving nearby buildings, or telling the stories of the history lost to demolition. If you live in West Baltimore, your comments on these alternatives are critically important to determining the future of the buildings and community around the proposed rail line.
What is Section 106? Since last fall, the B&P Tunnel project has been working through a review process required by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Section 106 of the NHPA requires the Federal Railroad Administration to meet with the Maryland Historical Trust and a variety of interested parties and consider the effects of the proposed project on historic buildings and neighborhoods. A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review (PDF) from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation explains:
Section 106 requires federal agencies to consider the effects of projects they carry out, approve, or fund on historic properties… Section 106 review encourages, but does not mandate, preservation. Sometimes there is no way for a needed project to proceed without harming historic properties. Section 106 review does ensure that preservation values are factored into federal agency planning and decisions.
In meetings in July and August, the Federal Railroad Administration asked Baltimore Heritage and other consulting parties to consider the two remaining alternatives for the B&P Tunnel(with a total of five variations) and submit comments. What of these alternatives does the least harm? How can the effect of these proposals be mitigated? We’re asking your help in answering these questions by reviewing the alternatives below and sharing your comments with us and with the B&P Tunnel project team. Read more