The 1872 Superintendent’s House in Druid Hill Park is undergoing a complete restoration. The George A. Frederick designed stone mansion at Auchentoroly Terrace will be part of a new Parks and People Foundation complex that will also include the adjoining carriage house, a new structure and landscaped park land. The facility will make long overdue use of the neglected western parcel of Druid Hill, a once overgrown wasteland adjacent to Mondawmin Mall.
Ziger/Snead Architects are leading the project utilizing reclaimed building materials when possible and claims to be saving a majority of the 200+ trees that envelop the property. The gothic Superintendent’s House will remain true to the Frederick design on its exterior while its interior will be given a modern open feel. The stone building that once housed Druid Hill’s chief officer will be used as a multifaceted recreation center and community meeting place. The Ecology Center will be slightly north of the Frederick mansion and will include offices for the Parks and People Foundation. The project is exactly what Baltimore needs. Turning blight into a valuable resource for the community and saving historic structures at the same time is certainly worth it. I can only hope that the city and its numerous non-profits will follow this example.
The renovation almost never happened. During Kurt Schmoke’s tenure as mayor the overgrown 9 acres were nearly sold to a church. The congregation intended to cover the entire parcel with a 34,000 square foot house of worship, a family center, apartments and parking lots. The Superintendent’s residence, its carriage house and surrounding trees would have been lost. After an enormous outpouring of discontent from the community Schmoke canceled the city’s plan to sell the park property.