Bigger home for Jewish history 'More flexibility': The planned Weinberg Building will enable the Jewish Historical Society to expand its mission of celebrating Jewish life in Maryland.

Urban Landscape

April 18, 1996|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

BALTIMORE will soon be the home of a $2.25 million history and education center that has been touted as the nation's

"largest and most advanced facility for the study, understanding and appreciation of regional American Jewish history."

The Jewish Historical Society of Maryland has set May 5 as the groundbreaking for the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, a 12,000-square-foot expansion of its three-building campus at 15 Lloyd St. near Lombard Street. When complete in late 1997, the brick-and-stone building will contain a 2,000-square-foot exhibition gallery, expanded library, visitor orientation center, museum shop, entrance court, staff offices and more than 4,000 square feet of new storage and processing space for the growing collection of documents and photographs.

One of the most unusual features will be the reconstructed boardroom of the Hendler Creamery Co. Mahogany wall panels and other architectural details taken from the old Hendler building at 1100 E. Baltimore St. will be used to create a new boardroom for the historical society.

Founded in 1960 to document and celebrate Jewish life in and around Maryland, the society is an agency of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Its director, Bernard Fishman, has been planning the addition for the past three years to increase the society's library, archives, offices and exhibits.

A driving force behind the project, Mr. Fishman said, has been the need for more space to store, process and display the society's fast-growing collection of materials from Maryland, southern Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

"We've been a big success as a museum," he said. "We have about 1.1 million historical documents, 30,000 photographs and 8,000 other objects. And many more materials are coming in."

But that has caused a problem, he said. "We have grown so rapidly over the past nine years that we filled up storage and exhibition preparation space that was expected to last for 20 years. As a result, we don't have the facilities needed to meet our mission as we have developed. This expansion will give us the space we need now and more flexibility for growth in the future."

President Miriam Lowenberg said the society has received pledges for $3.4 million to construct the facility, buy land for parking and start an endowment for the new building's operations.

Major commitments to the campaign have been made by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, state of Maryland, city of Baltimore, Sadie B. Feldman, Joseph Meyerhoff Fund, Max and Bernice Israelson, Kresge Foundation, Louis and Henrietta Blaustein Foundation and Carolyn Hutzler.

Richter Cornbrooks Gribble Inc. of Baltimore is the architect for the expansion, Jonathan Fishman is the lead designer. Henry H. Lewis Contractors Inc. of Owings Mills is the contractor.

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend will be the keynote speakers for the groundbreaking. It will follow the society's annual meeting, which begins at 2 p.m. May 5 at the Lloyd Street Synagogue, 11 Lloyd St.

Another long-awaited building project that finally will get under way this spring is the conversion of Baltimore's historic President Street train station to a Civil War and Transportation Museum.

Baltimore's Board of Estimates this month approved a contract to hire Warwick Supply and Equipment Co. to be contractor for the $1.25 million project at President and Fleet streets.

Construction had been scheduled to begin in early 1995. It was delayed because bids came in over budget and the project's sponsors needed to raise more money before they could proceed.

Mayor Schmoke recently approved a recommendation to allocate another $179,200 in federal "transportation enhancement" funds to bridge the financial gap. Work will begin within a month on the 1852 landmark and be completed by early 1997.

Tomorrow is the 135th anniversary of the most famous event to take place at the station -- a riot between Northern troops and Southern sympathizers that led to the first fatalities of the Civil War, at least nine civilians and three soldiers.

Pub Date: 4/18/96

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