Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital dedicated a new building yesterday to Harry Weinberg, a reclusive Baltimore real estate tycoon who died in November 1990 leaving $743 million in a charitable foundation.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation's gift of $1.5 million will retire the debt of the new $15 million building off Northern Parkway. The building houses a community room, a room for spiritual reflection and a lobby.
The foundation, criticized by charitable organizations for its unconventional approach to giving, is Baltimore's largest philanthropy. Its assets are expected to be $1 billion when Mr. Weinberg's estate is settled.
Yesterday's gift was a logical choice for the foundation, which has most often given to Jewish organizations and the elderly. While he was alive, Mr. Weinberg bought air-conditioners to keep 1,400 elderly people comfortable in Israel and gave money to throw birthday parties for two Levindale residents a month.
A geriatric center, Levindale has a high-rise apartment building, 76 hospital beds and a nursing home with beds for 210 patients. "May this building serve to remind people of Harry and Jeanette Weinberg's dedication to the Jewish people," said Alfred Coplan, chairman of the board of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
The money given to Levindale will not only retire the debt on the building, but allow more operating money to go into patient care, said Stanford A. Aliker, Levindale's president.
The Weinberg foundation generally has been a low-profile organization that does not accept grant applications, has no published telephone number and only one full-time staff member.
It probably will have to give away about $35 million each year -- 5 percent of its assets, as required by law.
Bernard Siegel, foundation director, said after yesterday's Levindale dedication that plans for the estate's significant real estate holdings are incomplete but that Mr. Weinberg did not wish the buildings to be sold. Most of the holdings are in Hawaii, but the foundation also owns more than four dozen local buildings valued at $58 million by state assessors -- many of them in the Howard Street corridor.