Compromise saves mansion's vistas Group buys lots at Oliver House

February 06, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

In an unusual but happy conclusion to what began 2 1/2 years ago as a bitter fight over the preservation of an historic 1819 mansion and its surrounding vistas in eastern Baltimore County, a developer and community residents celebrated a common victory this week with a bottle of champagne.

The Friends of Oliver House Inc., the community group, had bought five housing lots from the Emerald Development company, which originally had proposed building 14 homes on four acres surrounding the historic building.

The community group bought the lots for $126,000. The Maryland Historic Trust and the National Historic Trust provided loans and grants to cover the purchase.

"This was a cooperative effort with the community, the historic organizations and the developer," said Stuart Kaplow, a lawyer who worked for the community on a pro bono basis. "No question, this has been a great historic save."

The dispute began in 1990 when Oliver Beach residents learned Emerald had bought Oliver House and intended to encircle the mansion with 14 new homes.

Oliver House was originally a rustic hunting lodge built next to the Gunpowder River by Robert Oliver, an Irish immigrant who became one of Baltimore's first millionaire merchants.

It was designed and built by Robert Mills, one of America's first and most respected architects. Mr. Mills also designed the Washington monuments in Baltimore and Washington.

Those involved with the purchase said Anthony Mierzwicki, owner of Emerald Development, worked well with the community to reach an agreement satisfactory to both sides.

Mr. Mierzwicki will build homes on seven remaining sites located to the west of the mansion.

Those homes will not interfere with the view surrounding Oliver House.

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