Baltimore's newest addition on the hostelry scene is also one of its most unusual. The Peabody Inn on Mount Vernon Place officially opens this weekend for business, but don't expect to see lots of youngsters calling for reservations. By "youngsters" we mean folks under 59.
Over the next year, some 4,000 "oldsters" will use the Peabody Inn as their home away from home while they participate in an intensive week-long program at the Peabody Institute on music and dance. Peabody has turned four formerly vacant Italianate town houses dating from 1850 into the base for the school's Elderhostel program.
Previously, Peabody ran its popular courses for seniors on a floor of the nearby Comfort Inn. But demand kept growing for the music courses and there were waiting lists. At the same time, Peabody officials were seeking ways to recycle the four town houses on Mount Vernon Place. The answer: a six-story inn devoted to Elderhostel activities.
Visiting guests will find 45 double-bed rooms and six single rooms, lecture and recital halls, classrooms and a top-floor meeting room. A courtyard has been created off Centre Street to provide a new entrance with enhanced security.
The Elderhostel program is growing, and Peabody's courses are among the most popular. It offers educational programs for adults ages 60 and older in 49 countries. With the opening of the Peabody Inn, local programs will be extended from 29 weeks a year to 44 weeks a year. The $345 weekly fee (covering six nights lodging, meals in the student cafeteria and 22 1/2 hours of music courses) should be enough to pay the cost of running the program and start to pay off the bonds for the $2.4 million renovation.
This first-rate architectural restoration should bring new life to the Mount Vernon area and pump additional tourist dollars into the Baltimore economy. The school also should benefit from the added flow of "mature" students through its doors. Peabody has produced a masterpiece.