Face Lift for Patterson Park Pagoda

September 20, 1991

Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the Pagoda, the 60-foot octagonal observatory tower standing near the highest point of Patterson Park. Fitting preparations are being made for the centennial: the whole neighborhood is pulling together to restore the landmark.

Patterson Park is one of those urban oases that is taken for granted.

Before air-conditioning, it was a place where whole families would spend the night on sweltering summer evening, hoping to catch some catnaps under the stars. Many of those who visit it these days usually see just a portion of the 128-acre park. A typical example was this year's Polish Festival, which drew thousands of people but only to a small area near the monument honoring Tadeuz Kosciuszko, Poland's national hero. Yet Patterson Park is full of surprises. It even has a duck pond.

The Pagoda overlooks the harbor and contains the original earthworks thrown up in 1814 by citizen volunteers at the time of British bombardment of Fort McHenry. It is difficult to imagine that the park board and Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin were serious in 1964 when they threatened to tear the tower down unless it was renovated. Whether the threat was serious or not, enough money was found for extensive repairs.

The year-long renovation effort now in progress is the first one on the structure since 1983.

Volunteers spearheaded by Joe Hauser, a restoration specialist and Butchers Hill resident, spend weekends stripping the metal skeleton and wood of layers of old paint. They replace wooden flooring, repair broken windows. Among volunteers are area residents as well as members of the iron workers', painters' and operating engineers' unions.

Many of the Patterson Park neighborhoods are experiencing a revival. New families are buying and restoring the quintessential row houses with white marble steps and painted window screens. The Pagoda's face lift is the type of volunteer effort that makes people feel good about Baltimore. It draws more attention to the livable, affordable neighborhoods around it.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.