Emily Green received a fitting welcome to the new Annapolis City Hall annex on West Street, a brick surplus federal building on the edge of a Civil War graveyard.
Green, the city's civic and neighborhood projects coordinator, called a cab one night after a meeting in the building. The dispatcher asked her where to send the cab.
"The national cemetery," she told him. He chuckled.
While waiting alone in the building, she heard creaks and noises, so she decided to wait outside. Once outside, a bat swooped down from the building at her. That did it. She walked through the cemetery gates and waited by the street.
Green told the story last week, on the day the city officially opened the new annex, which had been vacant for more than three years before the federal government declared it surplus property last year. The city got the building for free, paying only for renovations.
The refurbished building will provide space for Green's department and other social service agencies such as the drug policy coordinator's office, the Police Department's anti-drug DARE program and the Alliance for a Drug-Free Annapolis.
The new tenants don't seem to mind that they are a mile from City Hall and sandwiched between two graveyards and a gas station. "Take a look at my office," said Drug Policy Coordinator Eric Avery. "We're out of 'The Nook.' " Avery and his assistant, Bonnie Holmes, shared a small space in the mayor's office. Their new offices are spacious, with hardwood floors and four windows. Green didn't even have a desk of her own in City Hall. Her new office is only slightly less spacious and has three windows.
Avery said he's heard a lot of jokes about the new building -- "I bet you're dying to get down there," one person told him -- but he said he thought the backdrop of 6,000 Civil War-era headstones was appropriate.
"We talk about the war on drugs," Avery said. "You can look around here and see what's happened in other wars."
The welcome mat on the front steps of the building has an anti-drug logo on it.
The city obtained the building to relieve overcrowding in City Hall, but city officials used the opportunity to create a social services center.
Avery said the city will be able to provide more counseling because the new building offers more privacy than the cramped quarters in City Hall.
The city opened the building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and brief speeches by Avery, Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins and Arthur Bath of the Baltimore National Cemetery complex. Although the building might look as old as the cemetery, Bath said it was built in 1940.