A Swedenborg Revival: Enchanting Mt. Vernon Condo In A Former Church

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Hot House: Calvert Abbey, 1100 N. Calvert Street #1, Baltimore, MD 21202

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Three story condo in former Swedenborgian church. Romanesque Revival style, circa 1874, in stone with slate roof, designed by noted architect Charles Cassell. Condo is 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, over 1,400 square feet, well and completely renovated. High ceilings, hardwood floors throughout, many original architectural details, chef’s kitchen, central air, two parking spaces, separate storage room: $346,000 

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What: One of just four condos in a beautifully renovated stone church which sits quietly behind a black painted, wrought iron fence on Calvert Street. Once you’ve noticed this building, you will be surprised that you never did before, as it is a real beauty.

Architect Charles Cassell designed the Chapel at University of Virginia, the Stafford Hotel and Friends School (now Friends at Bolton Park Residential Condominiums in Bolton Hill) in Baltimore, among other landmarks. Originally called the New Jerusalem Church, it was a progressive Christian(ish) denomination based on the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg , who claimed to have had personal revelations from God, and who famously predicted the day of his own death. Founded in 1787, Swedenborgianism competed for members with the Methodists, who seem to have eventually won the day.

In 2007, the church was sold to a developer. The conversion was tastefully and expensively done, with much of the ecclesiastical detail left intact, but well edited into sleek, lofty, open-plan spaces with unique and unexpected elements — a wrought iron interior balcony, high-pitched wooden ceilings, and original stained glass, sparingly but effectively placed.

There is a lot to love about this place, and the photos tell most of the story. Worth noting is the fine condition of the building. All systems are modern and highly energy efficient, which makes for low monthly costs. There are also quality finishes, like custom cabinets and historical restoration of rafters, as well as comfort features like radiant heat and glass showers in bathrooms. The roof is of Peach Bottom slate, the ‘finest roofing material in the world’ and has been meticulously maintained.

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Where: In the Mt. Vernon Historical District, steps to many of Baltimore’s cultural treasures – the Peabody, the Walters, Center Stage and the Enoch Pratt Library – in addition to a lively restaurant and bar scene. Equally important for commuters, it is a seven-minute walk from here to Penn Station and the 35-minute MARC train ride to DC. If timed right, the owner says he is at his desk at the Smithsonian an hour after leaving home.

Why: Potential for reenacting wild Limelight-like raves at home.  Plus two parking spaces in Mt. Vernon.

Why Not: No yard space.

Would Suit: Artistic young professionals, urban downsizers, lapsed Swedenborgians.

 NB: There is a monthly condo fee of $350, which pretty much covers everything. Currently, property tax is $0, due to a tax credit thru 2018 (ask realtor for details).

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