Carroll Park group receives $150,000 Money will go toward living history park by Mount Clare Mansion

April 22, 1996|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

The Carroll Park Foundation has received grants totaling $150,000 to begin work on Carroll's Hundred, a "living history park" anchored by Mount Clare Mansion in Southwest Baltimore.

A $125,000 federal grant will be used to begin archaeological excavations and for improvements on the property, which eventually will include a reconstructed 18th-century village that will depict life in Colonial Maryland.

The money is part of $600,000 in "enhancement" funds awarded to Baltimore this year under the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. It will be used to match a $125,000 bond authorized in 1993 by the state of Maryland.

In addition, the Abell Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to pay for an economic impact study and market analysis of the project, which, it is estimated, will cost $12.5 million and take eight years to complete.

Pamela Charshee, executive director of the Carroll Park Foundation, said the group originally sought $250,000 in federal enhancement funds but was pleased to get as much as it did because it means work can begin this summer.

"Under the circumstances, we were delighted," she said. "We were pleased that it was that much."

Other Baltimore projects receiving transportation enhancement funds were the restoration of President Street Station, $179,200; restoration of the car shop at the B&O Railroad Museum, $170,000; and installation of lighting and brick sidewalks near Federal Hill Park, $125,900.

Mount Clare Mansion, the former home and iron-making estate of Charles Carroll, a barrister, is now an independent museum managed by the National Society of Colonial Dames of the State of Maryland. The foundation plans to turn the 23 surrounding acres into a regional tourist destination similar to Old Sturbridge Village and Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts that would provide an "intense microcosm" of life in early America.

Its planners regard it as a potential magnet for economic development and revitalization in Southwest Baltimore's recently designated empowerment zone.

Artifacts uncovered at the site indicate that a diverse African-American culture existed there. Ms. Charshee said the findings were not surprising, because many African-Americans lived and worked at the Carroll family's iron furnace, one of the largest in the mid-Atlantic region from the 1730s to 1780.

Ms. Charshee said the federal money will be used to restore what was once a terraced garden next to Mount Clare Mansion. Starting this summer, she said, volunteers will lead weekend tours of the archaeological and restoration areas and tell the stories of the people who worked at the iron furnace, where pig iron was produced and exported to England.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke will be honorary chairman of a fall conference there called "Interpreting African-American History at Carroll's Hundred."

Pub Date: 4/22/96

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