Panel approves demolition of former church hall No other uses, owners found for historic structure

March 12, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Historic District Commission reversed itself last week and approved the demolition of a former church hall that is fire- and water-damaged but still architecturally valuable, members said.

TC safety hazard, the commission -- which has advisory authority over demolition in the county's historic districts in Ellicott City and Elkridge -- said the structure has architectural integrity and is of "unusual importance."

The building is one of three remaining turn-of-the-century social halls -- serving the community's social, religious and educational needs -- in the county, the commission said. The other two are in Lisbon and Daisy.

Overlooking Baltimore and Ohio railroad tracks and obscured by other buildings belonging to the church, the building originally was a parish hall for St. Peter's Episcopal Church, which has moved elsewhere in Ellicott City. St. Peter's burned down in 1939, and the hall was converted into apartments. After a suspected arson in 1982, the building was ordered condemned and boarded up.

Nonetheless, the commission voted in December to deny a request by St. Paul's Church to demolish the building and to replace it with a patio for the church.

According to county law, if the commission had voted to deny the demolition in its meeting Thursday, Father Donaghy would have had to wait another year to offer the proposal again.

"To deny him for one year when we, in fact, didn't have an alternative would not have been acting responsibly," Mr. Lang said. "And I reluctantly agreed [with the demolition]."

Father Donaghy has agreed to consider any offer to restore the building that may be presented before the demolition, Mr. Lang said.

Pub Date: 3/12/96

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