New historic preservation fund awards $70K in grants for nine city projects

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Photo via The Peale Center/Facebook

Projects to restore a historic East Baltimore theater’s façade, stained-glass windows at a 146-year-old South Baltimore church and two 1840s wood-frame houses in Fells Point are among the efforts getting some financial help from the new Baltimore City Historic Preservation Fund.

The fund’s first-ever grantees were announced this week. The awards are financed by mitigation fees paid by developers receiving state money (like Project C.O.R.E.) to demolish historic buildings, or that plan to demolish historic buildings on state property. The Baltimore Community Foundation collects the money, and Preservation Maryland administers each round of grants.

Preservationists say it’s intended to offer at least $50,000 annually through 2021, at least, to help organizations with their historic preservation projects.

The goal for the fund, jointly planned by historic preservation nonprofit Baltimore Heritage, the Maryland Historical Trust, Preservation Maryland and the Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (or CHAP), is to help preserve buildings or promote neighborhoods’ history and, as a result, draw new investment to those areas.

This pool for this first round of grantees announced yesterday is actually larger, with $70,000 divided between nine projects in the city. Nearly 40 applicants submitted grant proposals, according to an announcement.

Baltimore Heritage executive director Johns Hopkins said via email that they decided to distribute more money than initially planned “due to the large number of important projects where funding now in 2019 could have a significant impact,” as with the aged Sellers Mansion in Southwest Baltimore or the Caulkers’ Houses in Fells Point (see below).

If they waited any longer to help fix up those buildings, “the deterioration would be much worse and much more costly to repair,” he said.

Preservation Maryland executive director Nicholas Redding said in a statement that the initial grants “each underscore the real power of preservation to be a positive force for community revitalization.”

The winners:

  • Immigrant-advocacy nonprofit CASA de Maryland is receiving a $10,000 grant to help restore the historic Belnord Theatre, which it’s converting into a new education and job-training center in McElderry Park. The money will go toward fixing up the theater’s façade to match its original look from 1929.
  • Neighborhood-revitalization nonprofit Jubilee Baltimore is receiving $8,000 to help prepare a nomination for National Historic Register status for the East Baltimore Midway neighborhood, intended to help draw renewed investment to the area.
  • Leadenhall Baptist Church, one of the city’s oldest continuously housed African-American congregations, is receiving $7,000 to help restore its stained-glass windows, many of which are originals from when it was built in 1873.
  • Le Mondo, the artist-owned studio, performance and office space downtown, is receiving $5,000 to help restore the windows in two of its three buildings on N. Howard Street. Both are early-20th century storefronts.
  • Homeowner-assistance nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore is receiving $8,000 to help fund research to support a nomination for National Historic Register status for the Penn North neighborhood.
  • The Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture, located near City Hall, is receiving a $7,000 grant to help with its multi-year restoration of the building’s main congregation space, the Picture Gallery.
  • The Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fell’s Point (apostrophe theirs) is receiving $10,000 to help rehab two adjacent wood-frame homes built in the late 18th century on S. Wolfe Street. They’re known as the Caulkers’ Houses.
  • The Southwest Partnership, which represents seven neighborhoods and six institutions in the southwestern area of the city, is getting $10,000 to help stabilize the 1843 Malachi Mills House in Union Square. The structure was once home to its namesake carpenter and cabinet maker and his family, and is considered an exemplary model of 19th-century workers housing in Baltimore.
  • The St. James Terrace Apartments is receiving $5,000 to help restore the Sellers Mansion at the corner of Lafayette Square Park, once home to Northern Central Railway director Matthew Bacon Sellers. The money will go toward stabilization the building to prevent it from further deteriorating.

Preservation Maryland has more details (plus photos of each project) on its website.

Hopkins noted that even though the fund has enough money for just two more years at present, “I’m daring to be hopeful that [with] people seeing all the great work that is being done with the grants, and even more work that is needed, we can raise additional funds to extend the grants into year four and beyond.”

This story has been updated.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in CityLab, Slate, Baltimore City Paper, DCist and elsewhere.
Ethan McLeod
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2 COMMENTS

  1. All worthwhile projects. thanks for reporting. $5000 isn’t nearly enough to stabilize the Seller’s Mansion on Union Square. I thought that Ernst Vallery bought the house at auction from the St. James Apartments?

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