“We are not in the business of selling our history,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said yesterday, seeking to quell criticism after The Baltimore Sun reported that the city was considering selling or leasing 15 historic Baltimore landmarks.
The Sun’s report was based on the Board of Estimates’ agreement yesterday to pay $46,500 to Annapolis appraisers Westholm & Associates to evaluate the landmarks with an eye toward “marketing opportunities” at the sites.
Rawlings-Blake said that the city’s intentions were pure – part of an overall evaluation to determine the value of the structures (as well as their physical condition and energy efficiency), not a plot to sell the family heirlooms.
All but three of the structures are protected by historic landmark designations, which makes their sale by the city, or reconfiguration by private parties, subject to a host of regulations and review panels.
Many of the structures are currently unused, and several (like the Valve House at Clifton Park) have suffered sustained and significant deterioration.
Non-profit groups currently lease some of the landmarks, while other properties, sought by historical or community groups, have been stuck in bureaucratic limbo.
Rawlings-Blake said the city wants to “work with existing partners” to restore the landmarks to their best possible uses.
The 15 landmarks to be appraised are the Peale Museum (oldest museum building in the U.S., vacant for more than 15 years); Shot Tower; Eastern Avenue Pumping Station (ex-Public Works Museum, closed in 2010); Upton Mansion; Roland Park Water Tower; West Arlington Water Tower; Engine House No. 6 on Gay Street; Cylburn House and Park; McKim Free School, War Memorial; Old Town Friends’ Meeting House; President Street (Railroad) Station; Superintendent’s House at Clifton Park; Valve House at Clifton Park; and Orianda Mansion, Crimea Estate in Leakin Park.