Historic Towson bank building is reborn

April 29, 1995|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

The little red brick building that is Towson's oldest commercial structure has a new lease on life.

With a ribbon-cutting yesterday, the Civil War-era structure that once housed Baltimore County's first bank became the Towson YMCA's family enrichment center after languishing unimproved for more than 25 years.

"It's really a community effort," said Paula Ehoff, director of family services at the Towson YMCA on West Chesapeake Avenue.

Contributions and a federal AmeriCorps grant enabled the YMCA to make necessary renovations to the 1,000-square-foot landmark building, now called the Campbell Enrichment Center.

The Colonial-style building originally was in the heart of Towson at Pennsylvania and Washington avenues before being moved to the YMCA property in the late 1960s. It was used most recently as a storage shed at the YMCA -- a far cry from its glory days.

The building housed law offices in the 1850s before becoming the Towson National Bank (now Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co.) in 1886.

In 1923, the Harry T. Campbell Sons' concrete and construction company opened an office there. Later, the Greater Towson Chamber of Commerce occupied the space until 1968. Then the site was sold, and the building was in jeopardy.

To save it from destruction, Campbell donated it to the Towson YMCA. But because of a lack of funds, the building sat untouched until recently.

The new center will have programs and services aimed at strengthening family and community development, Ms. Ehoff said. A resource library also will be established to allow parents to borrow materials to study.

"We are going to provide what families will need in the future for the 21st century," Ms. Ehoff said.

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