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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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Baltimore Building of the Week: Upton Mansion

The two Greek Revival mansions featured in this Baltimore Building of the Week feature both have rich histories. Upton was home to the WCAO radio station from 1929 through 1947 and then served as the Baltimore Institute of Musical Arts, an accredited music school open to African American students, through 1955. However, while the Dumbarton House is now occupied by the Baltimore Actors’ Theatre, Upton remains on the Baltimore Heritage Watchlist threatened by vacancy and neglect.

Upton, courtesy Jack Breihan

The environs of Baltimore also boast Greek Revival country houses. Dunbarton, just over the county line in Rodgers Forge, is a grand example. Upton is a particularly fine medium-sized Greek Revival mansion which has given its name to the Baltimore neighborhood that grew up around it (Upton). Long used by the City school administration, Upton is now vacant and in constant threat of “demolition by neglect.”

Baltimore Building of the Week: Italianate Rowhouses

Our Baltimore Building of the Week series from Dr. John Breihan returns with Italianate Rowhouses, the second entry in our three part series on Italianate Rowhouses,

Franklin Square, image courtesy Jack Breihan

Italianate rowhouses, popular in Baltimore from the 1850s until the 1880s and beyond, were particularly suited to long, uniform rows beneath uniform carved cornices. They formed stately “street walls” around Baltimore’s squares and along principal thoroughfares like Broadway. Pictured here are Waverly Terrace, circa 1850, on Franklin Square, and the north side of Union Square, circa 1880. The latter contains the home of the Sage of Baltimore, Henry Mencken, now owned by the City of Baltimore.

Union Square, image courtesy Jack Breihan

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.