With a month to go before moving its headquarters to th historic Orchard Street Church, the Baltimore Urban League yesterday came much closer to raising the $3.7 million needed to pay for the restoration.
Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. presented a $600,000 check, representing an agreement to invest in the project. In return, the Baltimore investment banking firm hopes to benefit by syndicating federal tax credits available for restoration of historic buildings.
The investment brings to $3.1 million the amount raised from public and private sources.
Yesterday's cornerstone-laying ceremony marked the undertaking of one of the largest redevelopment projects entered into by an African-American organization in Baltimore.
"A year ago this building was like bombed-out Beirut," said Urban League President Roger Lyons. "It was a building that nobody wanted to look at and nobody wanted to touch. Now it will be alive and vibrant and a wonderful home for the Baltimore Urban League."
The 1882 Italian Renaissance-style church and an adjacent Sunday school building dating from 1879 were vacant for 17 years before restoration began.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke marveled that the league members were able to save the church.
"They looked at this place that some thought should be torn down and saw a place of beauty," he said.
Orchard Street Church will reopen to the public during a three-day celebration on Nov. 6-8.
The league will move its offices from Mondawmin Mall at the end of October.
Its activities include job training, job placement, consumer services, a youth service bureau, AIDS education, teen-age pregnancy programs, and a literacy center.
Kelly, Clayton & Mojzisek and Morgan State University Architecture Chairman Anthony Johns collaborated on the design.