With its red-brick façade, arched windows and projecting turrets, the castle-like Hebrew Orphan Asylum building is a striking image along the streets of West Baltimore’s Greater Rosemont community.
The four-story, Victorian Romanesque structure, located at 2700 Rayner Ave., played an important role in Baltimore Jewish history. In addition, it is a classic example of repurposing a building for the common good of a community.
Designed by the architectural firm of Lupus & Roby, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum was built in 1876 with the donations of Baltimore’s affluent German-Jewish community through the auspices of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Baltimore.
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 now occupied by 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.
Since 2004, the nonprofit preservation group Baltimore Heritage has worked closely with local organizations on creating a new usage for the building, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places nine years ago.
The 30,000-square-foot building was vacant from 1989 until recently, and owned by Coppin State University for the past 17 years. It will now become a neighborhood health care hub, with an opioid treatment center recently moving in after a $17 million renovation of the building.
In this video, Johns W. Hopkins, executive director of Baltimore Heritage, offers a concise history of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum building.