Odenton bank awaits revival as railroad museum

October 28, 1992|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,Staff Writer

Once it was a bank. Now it's a mess.

The building next to the railroad station in Odenton shows the years of neglect in the fallen wooden cornice, the vines grown up the sides and the plywood-boarded windows. From a distance you'd take it for an abandoned mausoleum.

Built in 1917 as the Citizens State Bank, the concrete-block structure over the decades has served as a concession stand, grocery store, then storage shed, but hasn't been used in years. The Odenton Heritage Society will soon have the means to change that.

The Maryland Department of Transportation has agreed to grant the society $55,000 toward an estimated $120,000 to buy and restore the building as a combination commuter concession stand and history museum. The society will borrow the balance of the money through an Anne Arundel County low-interest loan program.

"If everything goes smoothly, we hope to begin construction around February," said Sally Shoemaker, president of the Odenton Heritage Society, which has been working for years to restore the building. The restoration might be completed by next fall, she said.

She said the society has signed an agreement to buy the building, believed to be the site of the community's first bank, although she would not disclose the price. When it reopens, the building will house a commuter breakfast stand and a display of photographs, memorabilia and letters illustrating Odenton's railroad history.

The old bank building is "not in very good shape," said Frank Dittenhafer, the Baltimore architect whose firm drafted the restoration plan. He said the concrete shell has held up very well, but water damage has destroyed the cornice and the wooden moldings inside. But enough of the original remains "to see what it would have been like" when it was built.

"It's quite a wonderful, handsome little temple of a building," said Mr. Dittenhafer.

Asked to describe its architectural style, Mr. Dittenhafer said the building is "sort of a hodgepodge." The doorway is topped with a pointed pediment, the flat roof surrounded by a parapet, the windows set under stone lintels.

The $55,000 state grant comes from a pool of federal money set aside for projects related to transportation. Federal legislation enacted last year gave states the authority to use the money for a variety of projects, including building bicycle and pedestrian trails along old railway corridors, landscaping highways and buying scenic land along highways.

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