The big fire at the under-construction Mary Harvin Senior Center in East Baltimore became one of the go-to images for TV networks during the rioting that followed Freddie Gray’s funeral. On the one-year anniversary of the fire, the building is officially open.
Gov. Larry Hogan and a host of city officials cut the ribbon on the senior center Wednesday to celebrate the opening. The $15 million project will provide 61 affordable apartments for seniors. The center is part of the work of Southern Baptist Church to provide new housing in the area. In addition to the apartments, it also contains a community center with counseling and job training services.
“Today, what was once a symbol of violence and destruction is now a beacon of hope, and an example of the resilience that truly defines the amazing people of this great city,” Hogan said.
The gathering was a big difference from the night of April 27, 2015, when members of the church gathered on the scene, holding back tears. “Somebody that did this did not understand the church’s heart,” Pastor Donte Hickman said.
Federal officials issued a statement in the wake of the riots saying they believed the fire was an arson, but no arrest has been made.
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