Park Avenue Lodge to celebrate 75th anniversary


September 23, 1994|By Reported by Frank P. L. Somerville

The Park Avenue Lodge, a "secure and friendly home away from home" in Baltimore's Mount Vernon area operated by the United Methodist Church "for young women attending school or pursuing their careers," will celebrate its 75th anniversary Sunday.

A public program of reminiscences, music, tours and refreshments is planned from noon to 5:30 p.m. at the lodge, which is contained in two large, connected houses at 607 and 609 Park Ave.

Both houses are believed to have been built in 1844.

In the 1920s, long waiting lists of young women sought a temporary home at the lodge. Shortly before the end of World War II, 67 young women were living there.

But by 1956, the number of residents had dropped to 38, and in recent years the number has hovered around 14. Staff members said it is usual for most now to be foreign students at local professional schools.

Organizers of the anniversary celebration said that, beginning in 1986, Associated Catholic Charities has leased space at the lodge for a shelter for women who otherwise would be homeless.

The needy women and Catholic Charities staff members -- about a dozen people in all -- have gathered there from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. daily, sharing dinner and breakfast with the other residents.

The original proposal to establish this "home for working girls" came from the Rev. Hamilton P. Fox in 1919. He was the pastor of what was then Fayette Street Methodist Episcopal Church.

The home opened that year in a building at 755 W. Fayette St., which was rented from the congregation for $40 a month.

In 1921, the Women's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church purchased the property at 609 Park Ave. for $17,000.

Four years later, the society acquired the house next door, which was owned by the Roman Catholic archdiocese.

The Park Avenue Lodge's 75 years have also seen tragedy.

A fire set by an arsonist using a flammable liquid on the first floor while residents were asleep swept through the 609 building early in the morning of April 3, 1993, killing three of the 19 women staying in that part of the complex at the time.

One victim was a 28-year-old student from New Delhi, India. The other two women were in their 40s.

Police said they found no suspects and could determine no motive for the arson.

Through the years of changes, the lodge has remained an "interdenominational, interracial and intercultural" project and "the epitome of outreach of the United Methodist Church in urban ministry," according to staff and volunteers.

Bishop Joseph H. Yeakel of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church will preside at Sunday's celebration.

Information: 837-3787.

Goodwill celebrated

People of all faiths and denominations are invited to a worship service at 3 p.m. Sunday at Grace United Methodist Church, Charles Street and Northern Parkway, to give thanks for the 75 years of charitable work by Baltimore Goodwill Industries Inc.

Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish clergy will participate in the interfaith service. Music will be provided by Grace Church's organist, choir and soloists.

After the anniversary service, the congregation will be invited to a reception in the church's Fellowship Hall to honor Harvey E. Kettering II as he approaches his retirement from the post of president and chief executive officer of Baltimore Goodwill.

Information: 433-6650.

For Jewish families

Educational and entertaining activities for adults and children are planned from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Jewish Historical Society, 15 Lloyd St. in East Baltimore, to celebrate the publication of "The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays," illustrated by Baltimorean Nancy Patz.

The new book, written by Malka Drucker, was published by Little, Brown and Co.

Information: 732-6400.

Annual homecoming

The St. John Mass Choir, Ava Fields Dancers and Waters A.M.E. Dance Troupe will be among participants in 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. programs Sunday at St. John's African Methodist Episcopal Church, 810 Carrollton Ave. in West Baltimore.

Information: 728-0809.

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