The former Greyhound bus terminal at 601 N. Howard Street. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

After sitting dormant for years, Baltimore’s historic Greyhound bus station on Howard Street will be turned into a community center and a place for young people to play squash.

SquashWise, a non-profit organization that has been operating out of the Meadow Mill Athletic Club since 2008, announced this spring that it has purchased the former Greyhound terminal at 601 N. Howard Street from the Maryland Center for History and Culture. It plans to move in 2023.

“Just like the Greyhound buses used to bring passengers in and out of Baltimore at this historic building, SquashWise is ‘going places’ by establishing a home in the heart of Baltimore City to further advance equity and opportunity in squash and education,” executive director and co-founder Abby Markoe wrote in a post on Facebook this month.

According to its website, SquashWise “partners with Baltimore City student-athletes to play, learn and grow in all aspects of their lives, using the racquet sport of squash as an opportunity generator.” Its program offers a combination of “tutoring, squash coaching and competition, fitness and college and career readiness,” with 80 percent of its students going on to college.

The organization’s plan for the former Greyhound terminal calls for it to contain six squash courts, a multipurpose fitness space, classrooms and a rec room. With 28,836 square feet on more than half an acre, the facility “will become a community center which bridges communities through a shared love of squash and sport, and it will expand the reach of squash beyond its traditional settings,” the website says.

“SquashWise will host its after-school tutoring and sports programs, along with community memberships, local matches and regional tournaments,” the website says. “It also intends to partner with other educational and cultural institutions in the area, including the Maryland Center for History and Culture, to the benefit of its participants.”

The station is one of more than 60 around the country that architect William Strudwick Arrasmith designed for Greyhound in the 1930s and 1940s to serve passengers in the cities it served.  The architecture, in the Streamline Moderne style, was part of its brand. Arrasmith’s Greyhound stations were typically distinguished by a tall pylon and an image of a Greyhound near the top.

Greyhound had its Baltimore station on Howard Street from 1941 to 1987. After operating at the Baltimore Travel Plaza on O’Donnell Street and from a downtown station on West Fayette Street, it now has a station off Russell Street, near the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.

After Greyhound moved out, the building was acquired by a development group led by Elinor Bacon, who converted it to offices. The Maryland Center for History and Culture, then known as the Maryland Historical Society, bought it in 1999 as an expansion of its Mount Vernon campus, bounded by Monument, Howard and Centre streets and Park Avenue. In 2016, the museum’s board decided to entertain offers to sell the property.

One idea that surfaced was a proposal to turn the building into a restaurant, modeled after a successful dining establishment called The Grey in Savannah, created inside a former Greyhound station. The development team was led by Lehr Jackson, and the designer was Craig Purcell of BCT, but they never reached an agreement on a sale.

The former bus station is part of a Baltimore City historic district, which means that any changes to the exterior must be approved by the city’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. The project is one of several planned for Howard Street, including a mixed-use complex called The Compass at Howard and Lexington streets and a new club called Central at 885-889 N. Howard Street.

“SquashWise is thrilled to co-locate with the Maryland Center for History and Culture,” Markoe said when the sale was announced. Because the museum and SquashWise have “a shared mission to promote lifelong learning,” she said, “the campus will truly embody the values of education, growth and community and contribute to the vibrancy and revitalization of the Market Center Historic District.”

“The Maryland Center for History and Culture is thrilled to share its campus with SquashWise, a like-minded organization that elevates and empowers Baltimore youth,” said Katie Caljean, Vice President of Education and Strategic Engagement, in a statement. Its move “will give the historic Greyhound terminal a promising new future and lend to revitalization efforts taking place along the Howard Street corridor.”

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Ed Gunts

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

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