Hackerman House

One of Baltimore’s grandest residences is getting a $10 million renovation.

Workers began installing scaffolding this month around the Hackerman House at 1 West Mount Vernon Place, part of the Walters Art Museum’s Mount Vernon campus.

The building, previously known as the Thomas-Jencks-Gladding Mansion, has housed the museum’s Asian art collection but has been closed for repairs since July of 2014.

When it reopens in the spring of 2018, according to museum representatives, it will be used for a variety of exhibits and events, not primarily as a setting for Asian art.

The contents of the house have been removed from the building to prepare for construction. The scaffolding is a sign that the renovation is moving ahead. When the building closed in 2014, a Walters representative said repairs would cost $5.2 million and be complete by the end of 2016.

Hackerman House scaffolding

The project’s scope has been expanded, said Mona Rock, the museum’s public relations manager.

“We are working on refurbishments to the whole building, inside and out,” she said. “The budget is $10 million, with funds coming from a mix of public and private sources.”

One of the most noticeable changes to the exterior will involve the windows, which currently have a dark tint to them that was controversial when they first were installed.

As part of the renovation work, the museum is reglazing the windows and they won’t have such a heavy tint, according to Tom Liebel, principal of Marks, Thomas Architects, the architect for the project. “The windows are going to be lightened up,” he said.

The building’s brick exterior will remain painted the same colors it is now and part of the cornice, called the acroteria, will be repaired, Liebel said.

One of the design team’s primary goals is to highlight the building’s original features.

“The intention is to let the historic architecture shine through. The original finishes will be restored. The overall intent is for building to be used as flexible exhibit space… I think it’s going to be a great asset for the Walters and the Mount Vernon community,” he said.

The neo-classical building was designed by John Niernsee and constructed between 1848 and 1850, making it one of the oldest residences on Mount Vernon Place. Later owned by the Jencks family and then car dealer and restaurateur Harry Gladding, it came to be known as the Thomas-Jencks-Gladding Mansion.

Following Gladding’s death, the city of Baltimore acquired it in 1984 with funding assistance from construction magnate Willard Hackerman. The city selected the Walters Art Museum to be the house’s steward. Working with Grieves Worrall Wright and O’Hatnick architects, the museum converted it to a home for its Asian art collection, with a direct connection to its 1904 main building, and it opened to the public in 1991.

Rock said some of the improvements involve mechanical systems, including upgrading the building’s fire suppression and climate control systems. Workers are also repairing certain aspects of the interior and exterior, including the chimneys and a stained glass skylight above the main stairway, she said. A coffee bar will be created in the conservatory at the rear of the building, she added.

Lewis Contractors is the general contractor. Ram Design of Washington is the exhibit designer. Baltimore’s preservation commission approved the exterior changes at the staff level, without a public meeting.

Lights in the windows

The decision to lighten the windows of the Hackerman House is consistent with a recommendation made to put actual lights in windows of buildings around the four squares of Mount Vernon Place, so the area doesn’t look abandoned after dark.

Richard Newton of Olin, the master planner for improvements to Mount Vernon Place, suggested as part of Olin’s plan that property owners be encouraged to put lights in their windows. With its dark-tinted windows, the Hackerman House is one of the darkest buildings on Mount Vernon Place at night.

Race Pace Bicycles coming to Charles Village

Besides leasing space for a Towson store, Race Pace Bicycles is also coming to Charles Village. The full-service bicycle store has leased a 2,500-square-foot space on the first level of 9 East 33rd, the apartment building at St. Paul and 33rd streets in Charles Village, and plans to open in January, according to general manager Nik Obriecht.

This will be the sixth store in Maryland for Race Pace. The Towson store, at 730 Dulaney Valley Road, where Ukazoo Books is now, will open by late March and will be its seventh store.

“We’ve been wanting to open a store in the middle of the city for a while,” Obriecht said. “This fits nicely between our Towson store and our Federal Hill store. We hope to be a great resource for Johns Hopkins University and other colleges in the area.”

Remington Wine Company proposed for 29th Street

The former owner of the Chesapeake Wine Company in Canton, Mitchell Pressman, wants to open a wine shop called the Remington Wine Company at 329 West 29th Street, the longtime site of Sav-It Liquors. Baltimore’s liquor board is scheduled to consider an application for a liquor license transfer for the shop at its meeting on Thursday, November 17.

More details on the new MARC station at Camden Yards

A new MARC commuter rail station will be constructed at Camden Yards in Baltimore with the help of a $6 million federal grant and $1.2 million from the state of Maryland.

Maryland Stadium Authority executive director Michael Frenz disclosed at a board meeting this month that the state has received a federal grant to build a permanent train station to replace the “temporary” station that opened in 1991 and never went away.

According to Michael Helta, manager of project development for the Maryland Transit Administration, the source of the federal funds is the Federal Highway Administration, through its Transportation Alternatives Program. Helta said the money is being made available to the Maryland Transit Administration, which will head the project.

Helta said the $6 million federal award, along with $1.2 million in state funds, is expected to cover the entire cost of the new station, which will be constructed where the present one is located. The site measures 60 feet by 80 feet – 4,800 square feet in all – on the east side of the B&O warehouse and just south of Camden Station.

Helta said an architect has not been hired and he did not have an exact timetable for construction, but the terms of the federal grant require the state to advertise the project for construction by October of 2018. Given that requirement, he said, construction of the station likely could begin by 2019 or 2020 and be completed by 2022 or sooner.

The next step for state planners is to meet with other area stakeholders, such as the Maryland Stadium Authority, the Maryland Historical Trust, Baltimore’s preservation commission and the Orioles. “We’re very much in the early stages,” he said.

All-local design team for Citron Baltimore

Last week’s opening of Citron Baltimore, the first restaurant by longtime caterer Charles Levine, was the latest interiors project by Jay Jenkins of Jenkins Baer Associates. Colimore Architects was the architect of record for the 10,500-square-foot building at 2605 Quarry Lake Drive. Obrecht Properties was the developer. Martha Macks-Kahn of Goya Contemporary curated the artwork in the restaurant.

Alan Walden elected

Republican candidate Alan Walden may not have won the race for Mayor of Baltimore, but he did win one election last week. On Thursday, Walden was elected to an 11th term as president of his condominium association.

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.