Baltimore Sun honors evening paper luminary

URBAN LANDSCAPE

September 14, 1995|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Sun Staff Writer

H. L. Mencken's writings enlivened The Evening Sun for years. Now The Evening Sun is helping keep alive one place in Baltimore that is closely associated with Mencken, even as the paper ceases publication this week.

The Baltimore Sun Co., publisher of The Sun and The Evening Sun, is donating $10,000 to pay for repairs to H. L. Mencken's former residence at 1524 Hollins St.

Mary Junck, publisher and chief executive officer of The Baltimore Sun, announced this week that the gift would be made tomorrow, the final date of publication for The Evening Sun.

The Baltimore Sun's contribution "is made in tribute to the men and women who put out The Evening Sun over the past 85 years," Ms. Junck said, noting that Mencken was present in 1910 when The Evening Sun was launched and regularly wrote for the paper for 38 years.

"We hope his home, which is now maintained as a museum by the Baltimore City Life Museums, remains a part of the legacy The Evening Sun has left Baltimore."

She said the four composite plates used to print the front page of the final edition of The Evening Sun will be donated to the Baltimore City Life Museums.

Known as the Sage of Baltimore, Henry Louis Mencken was born in 1880 and moved to the red brick house when he was 3 years old. He lived there until he married Sara Haardt in 1930. After she died in 1935, he returned to Hollins Street, where he did most of his writing.

Mencken died in 1956. The house was bequeathed to the University of Maryland 11 years later by his brother, August. In 1983, the university gave it to the City of Baltimore in exchange for the old Pine Street Police Station.

Filled with Mencken's furniture, typewriter, books and other personal effects, the house is open to the public Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment. (Call 396-7997).

A portion of The Baltimore Sun's contribution will help pay for repainting and repairs to the wood trim. That work was completed this summer by craftsmen from the Union Square neighborhood, painter Ben Senkus and carpenters Phil Hildebrandt and David Storey. The Union Square Association donated $2,000 to supplement The Baltimore Sun's gift.

The money was sorely needed, said Nancy Brennan, executive director of the Baltimore City Life Museums. "Ten thousand dollars is a significant amount of money, but the needs of the H. L. Mencken House are significant, too. We had deferred maintenance on the house, and this really helps."

'Avenue of the . . .'

The Schmoke administration wants to turn Howard Street into an "Avenue of the Arts," but a better name might be "Avenue of the Pharmacies."

The Rite Aid Corp. announced plans this year to open a store on the first level of the former Hecht Co. building at Howard and Lexington streets. Now it's working with the city and a private group, Red Leaf Development Corp., to construct a pharmacy near the proposed site for a $60 million performing arts center.

The pharmacy would rise on the east side of Howard Street between Chase Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, in a parcel once targeted for an office building.

The city of Baltimore owns a street bed that bisects the site and would have to sell or lease it before the pharmacy could be built.

Construction of the pharmacy would not prevent a private group from building a 2,800-seat performing arts center on the former Baltimore Life Insurance Co. property just north of the crescent-shaped parcel.

One question for city and state planners is whether a low-rise pharmacy is the best use for the land or whether it could be developed in a way that is more closely related to the Avenue of the Arts theme and the proposed arts center. Preliminary plans will be presented tomorrow to Baltimore's Architectural Review Board.

'Great Spaces' Concert

The Baltimore Architecture Foundation will present the third annual "Great Music in Great Spaces" concert Saturday at 8 p.m. at Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church, Charles Street and Woodbrook Lane. Four local organists will demonstrate the range of the custom-designed Holtkamp pipe organ inside the church, designed by Ziger Snead Architects. Details: (410) 625-2585.

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