The vacant Maryland National Guard armory on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville may soon be a new candidate for redevelopment.
Gov. Larry Hogan yesterday established a 16-member commission to determine the best way to make use of the 114-year-old military storage facility. The group, created by executive order, will submit its recommendations to the governor’s office.
Sen. Bobby Zirkin of Baltimore County will chair the commission, which will also include representatives from neighborhood associations surrounding the armory, the co-chairs of 1,000 Friends of Pikesville, members of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Pikesville Recreation Council, and others.
The armory was built in 1903, designed by Baltimore architects Wyatt and Nolting. At one point, it housed Maryland’s only cavalry unit. According to papers filed with the National Register of Historic Places – it was added to the register in 1985 – the armory hosted speakers such as presidents Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. Officers from the 110th Field Artillery of the Maryland National Guard also used the original armory building as a place to play polo, though the dirt floor they used was replaced with cement in 1970.
More recently, it was used for administrative purposes, training, logistics, equipment storage and operations for the Maryland National Guard, with “light to moderate community use,” according to a 2015 report from the Maryland Military Department. The same report called the facility “significantly larger than required” and “improperly” configured by modern standards.
“All structures on the reservation are over-aged and in poor condition,” it said.
The Maryland National Guard has since vacated the grounds. Spokesman Col. Charles S. Kohler said the last major unit to use it was the 175th Infantry Regiment. The state Department of General Services is now maintaining the property while officials determine its future.
“It’s had very limited use over the last few years,” Kohler said.
Members of 1,000 Friends of Maryland and the Greater Pikesville Recreation Council haven’t returned messages requesting comment.
Zirkin suggested in a statement that the facility could be repurposed for arts and recreational activities. “I am looking forward to working with the entire community on this exciting project…I am certain that we will emerge with a product that is exciting to the community,” he said.
The governor’s office says it “presents a unique opportunity for further development of a plan that could inspire new investment and engagement in the historic community of Pikesville and provide an important cultural and community resource.”
The commission’s recommendations are due Oct. 1, 2018.
This story has been updated with comment from the Maryland National Guard, and corrected to reflect that the armory is located on Reisterstown Road, not Smith Avenue.
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