Mt. Vernon Makeover

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I’ve heard more than a few Baltimoreans boast about our Washington Monument — that it was there first; that you can actually climb to the top of ours, instead of merely admiring it from afar.

What they weren’t so quick to mention was that the monument itself was sort of icky and dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that it was closed to the public as of last summer, after an engineering firm found potentially frightening flaws in the foundation of its balcony (rusty support brackets, missing mortar). The park around the monument is a little worse for wear, too. As the Hopkins Gazette notes, “the four parks have been in slow but steady decline in recent years. The area’s sidewalks and the steps leading up to the monument are crumbling and showing signs of age. The landscape has not been maintained, and several drainage issues exist.”

But with a long view toward the monument’s bicentennial in 2015, area merchants and Johns Hopkins are pooling funds to spruce things up a bit. Though the monument is owned by the city, it was a seed grant from Hopkins that got the refurbishing jumpstarted. (The Peabody Institute, one of Hopkins’ many tentacles, borders Mount Vernon Place.) If you’re in the area over the next few weeks, look out for landscaping, flowers, bench repairs/re-paintings, new tables and chairs, and freshly pruned trees and bushes.

But in order to get the place in the best shape possible, it’ll take significantly more cash than the $65,000 they’ve already raised — perhaps as much as $12 million, in fact. Think it’ll be worth it?



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