Production To Put A Fitting Cap On The Hall's Restoration

July 21, 1991|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff writer

Jeffrey Maier was a successful interior designer working in Texas when he decided to return to Lawyer's Hill in 1987.

He had grown up there, and when the economy took a downturn in Houston, he came home,started a new design and landscape architecture firm and bought Hursley Manor, one of the stately homes on the Hill.

He also became fascinated with The Elkridge Assembly Rooms -- or "the Hall," as it's known in the neighborhood -- the area's communitymeeting hall and theater since 1870. The years had taken their toll on the place and Maier led a community effort to raise money to fix it up.

When Maier, 43, died of a heart attack last September after a long illness, his mother, Ruth Maier, decided it was time to bring some drama back to the building. It had been 13 years since a play hadgraced its stage.

"He loved the hall and I wanted to do this playin his memory," she said. Ruth Maier lives in Kensington now, but she raised her nine children on Lawyer's Hill.

She also directed many of the neighborhood children in plays at the Hall. The building is a neighborhood treasure, with worn shingles, decorative trim and tall, multi-paneled glass windows.

Posters of previous theatrical productions, dating from the turn of the century, decorate the walls -- "Beauty and the Beast" from 1919; "Cabaret, Featuring that Famous Laugh Team of Bobby Dobbin and Sully Sullivan", July 24, 1934, Admission 35; and "Moonshine Hollow, A Saga of the Hills."

The building still had a lot of charm in 1987, but the roof was rotting and the side decking had to be replaced.

Maier and his business partner, Tom Ziemus, solicited donations from neighbors and planned community garage sales. Maier or

ganized a Lawyer's Hill Christmas house tour for neighbors featuring landmark Lawyer's Hill homes.

In three years, the neighborhood raised $10,000 for the Hall. The new roof and side deck were completed last month.

Maier didn't live to see the resultsof his hard work, but his mother thought a fitting tribute to him would be to make use of the new and improved Hall.

"He put his heartand soul into the Hall," she said.

But staging a Hall production proved to be quite an undertaking,

Ruth Maier found. She began planning for it in December, but was having trouble finding a cast.

Then she went to the Lawyer's Hill July 4 picnic. There, she met Valerie Constantini, an Elkridge resident and director of theater arts at Howard Community College. Maier explained what she was trying to do, and Constantini agreed to help.

"Performing in an historic place like that is very exciting, especially since it's in my community, in Elkridge," Constantini said.

For her return to directing, Ruth Maier chose a play she had directed at the Hall in 1961, "The Late Christopher Bean," written in 1926 by Sidney Howard.

The play will be staged in October, though an exact date hasn't been set. Proceeds willgo to a fund for Hall improvements.

"It's such a good fun play about greed and all the things that men are prone to," said Ruth Maier."I fell in love with it 30 years ago and said, 'I'll do that for Jeff.' "

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