Bus Shed Becomes a Museum

October 15, 1994

Sometimes things work out just right, such as the Maryland Historical Society's announcement that it will expand into the former Greyhound Corp. garage at Centre Street and Park Avenue.

The fate of the 19,000-square-foot garage has been the topic of ** intense speculation after the rest of the old bus station complex was restored two years ago. A good opportunity arose to get rid of the bus shed altogether after a February 1993 storm collapsed its roof. But the relic won a reprieve.

"We are hoping that we can begin work on that building within six to eight months and hopefully be occupying it in some way in 18 months," historical society director Dennis Fiori said after Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke recently decided that the garage will be used for museum expansion.

Although the garage is structurally sound after extensive roof repairs, costly alterations are needed before it meets the climate-control and safety requirements of a museum. It will eventually house a $1 million interactive overview of Maryland NTC history. By the time that happens, the main entrance to the historical society's complex also will be moved from Monument Street to Park Avenue.

The historical society's planned expansion comes at a time when exciting things are happening throughout the Mount Vernon cultural district. The Walters Art Gallery is about to begin a major renovation of its 1974 building. That will also include reconstruction of the museum's parking lot -- possibly as a multi-level garage.

Meanwhile, the currently homeless National Museum of Ceramic Art is scouting for a location in Mount Vernon. Talks continue on finding a cultural user for such major Howard Street landmarks as the old Mayfair Theater and the former Kernan Hotel, both of which have long been vacant eyesores.

"We are going to play a very major role" in efforts to enlarge and diversify the Mount Vernon cultural district, promises Walters director Gary Vikan.

It is a happy coincidence that both Mr. Vikan, a force behind the Walters' revitalization of recent years, and Mr. Fiori, a Massachusetts transplant, are relative newcomers as directors of their respective institutions.

Their cooperation is a key requirement for further success for Mount Vernon.

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