West Baltimore’s Hebrew Orphan Asylum building will be repurposed as a modern health care facility, announced the nonprofit preservation organization Baltimore Heritage on Dec. 20.
Construction on the former orphanage and hospital will begin in the first week of January, and financing for the rehabilitation project with lenders was secured on Dec. 19, according to Baltimore Heritage. The project is expected to be completed by the fall or early winter of 2019.
Along with Baltimore Heritage, the Cross Street Partners real estate company and Coppin Heights Community Development Corp. plan to transform the vacant and dilapidated edifice into a hub of health care innovation resources for the medical and social service needs of West Baltimore residents. The building will be leased by the city to different tenants.
Dr. Gary D. Rodwell, executive director of the Coppin Heights CDC, said the project’s $16 million price tag will be paid for through a “complex financial” arrangement between state, city and community resources, as well as through lending institutions and banks such as Wells Fargo.
He said the Maryland Stabilization Center, an opioid treatment center, will occupy one-third of the facility, and other tenants will be later identified.
“This is truly a community and national effort,” Rodwell said. “This building has been fallow and vacant for 30 years, a blight on the neighborhood. But this will be a tremendous asset to the neighborhood and serve as an anchor for health care and housing. …
“The community has waited a long time for this and stayed faithful to this project,” he said.
Since 2004, Baltimore Heritage has worked closely with local organizations on creating a new usage for the building, which is located at 2700 Rayner Ave. and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places seven years ago.
The 30,000-square-foot building has been vacant since 1989 and owned by Coppin State University for the past 15 years.
“We’ve been able to support the Hebrew Orphan Asylum [project] thanks to the support we receive from our wonderful volunteers, members, and donors,” Baltimore Heritage announced in a statement on Facebook on Dec. 20. “Thank you for making our work possible. We are a small organization where member giving is essential.”
Said John W. Hopkins, Baltimore Heritage’s executive director: “We’ve been working on this project for 14 years. It’s been a long road. The Hebrew Orphan Asylum is a signature building that has played different important roles in West Baltimore. It deserves to be reused, and the neighborhood deserves the investment.
“This is the best holiday present anyone could give Baltimore Heritage or the Greater Rosemont neighborhood.”
Built in 1876, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum is a four-story Victorian Romanesque red-brick structure with arched windows and projecting turrets. It served the Jewish community until 1923 when the Hebrew Orphan Society and the Hebrew Children’s Sheltering and Protective Society moved to the Northwest Baltimore tract of land that now is the location of the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital.
The Hebrew Orphan Asylum building served as West Baltimore General Hospital from 1923 to 1950 and the Lutheran Hospital of Maryland from 1950 to 1989.
Located in the Mosher community of the Greater Rosemont neighborhood, the facility stands on the site of the former Calverton Mansion, the country home of Baltimore banker Dennis Smith. The mansion was built in 1815 and burned down in 1872. The property was then donated to the Jewish community by a Baltimore Jewish merchant, William S. Rayner.
Designed by the architectural firm of Lupus & Roby, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum was built with the donations of Baltimore’s affluent German-Jewish community through the auspices of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Baltimore.