Wolman house is bought by Hopkins with donor's help

June 28, 1993|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

The Abel Wolman house at 3213 N. Charles St., longtime residence of the visionary Johns Hopkins University professor and pioneer in the field of sanitary engineering, now belongs to the university.

Hopkins officials bought the house this month at virtually no cost to the university because the entire $191,000 purchase price was covered by an anonymous donor "who wanted to keep the building in the Hopkins family," university spokesman Steve Libowitz said.

"In these economic times, to have a donor that steps forward and helps preserve the building and the history of Hopkins is a wonderful thing," he said.

Mr. Wolman, dubbed "the father of modern plumbing" because of his expertise in water resources and public health, built the four-level house in 1938 and lived there until his death four years ago at age 96. Still in mint condition, the house is considered by historians to be one of the most impressive works by noted architect Laurence Hall Fowler.

M. Gordon "Reds" Wolman, Abel Wolman's only child and a professor of geography at Hopkins, put the house on the market this year. More than one prospective buyer expressed interest in it, driving the price higher than the original asking price of $185,000.

Hopkins officials were interested in acquiring the house from the start, Mr. Libowitz said, but they could not have done so without the help of the donor, who stepped forward after reading a newspaper article about the pending sale.

Mr. Libowitz said the house will be preserved for university-related uses but that administrators have not determined what those uses will be. Possibilities range from a house museum celebrating Abel Wolman to a furnished residence for visiting professors and other dignitaries.

"We're looking at all the options," Mr. Libowitz said. "Some decisions will probably be made later in the summer."

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