Official slams razing of the Owings House Councilman calls method 'barbaric'

March 05, 1996|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County councilman who brokered a deal to dismantle the historic Samuel Owings House yesterday blasted criticized a developer for bulldozing the building -- the first statement from an elected official suggesting the deal had gone sour.

Councilman T. Bryan McIntire, a Republican who represents the area, said developer Howard S. Brown breached their agreement by bulldozing the house in Owings Mills just hours before a judge was to consider a move to halt the project.

Mr. McIntire said he was shocked by the "barbaric methods" used to raze the 1767 house, one of the county's oldest buildings.

"I feel that he let me down," he said. Asked what he meant by "barbaric," he added, "I think it's rough, I think it's crude, it's unrefined, it's uncivilized."

Still, he defended the deal as "the best solution," and said he expects the house will be rebuilt -- albeit with fewer of its original bricks.

Mr. McIntire said he did not know before the demolition how the house would be knocked down. Yesterday, he said he would have taken the house apart brick by brick, a method preferred by preservationists.

Mr. Brown could not be reached for comment. After the house was razed, his lawyer, Julius W. Lichter, said plans to rebuild the house in the Owings Mills area were still on track.

The house, built by the mill owner for whom Owings Mills is named, was bulldozed Thursday, hours before preservationists were to go to court in a bid to stop the razing. The demolition ended a months-long dispute over the fate of the house.

Mr. McIntire brokered an agreement under which Mr. Brown would raze the building and rebuild it elsewhere to make way for a $20 million office tower. County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III did not forward to the County Council a landmark commission's recommendation that the house be designated a historic landmark, and instead shook hands with Mr. Brown on the deal.

The county executive has said his decision was not influenced by the fact that Mr. Brown has helped raise money for his re-election campaign by selling tickets to a upcoming planned fund-raiser.

Mr. McIntire, who has received campaign donations from Mr. Brown's company, David S. Brown Enterprises, also said no conflict of interest exists.

Mr. McIntire said the house could not be given landmark designation because the council considered the matter in 1980 and chose not to place the house on the list. Ruth Mascari, chairwoman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, said the council should have been allowed to consider the house for the designation.

Mr. Ruppersberger could not be reached for comment yesterday. His spokesman, Michael H. Davis, declined to second-guess the demolition method, saying, "We're not experts on construction, but we're hopeful the house can be rebuilt as soon as possible in the Owings Mills area."

Pub Date: 3/05/96

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