Wider focus on Mount Vernon Action plan: Drive begins to enhance the area surrounding Baltimore's premiere plaza.

December 21, 1996

MOUNT VERNON SQUARE is a European-flavored plaza surrounded by many of Baltimore's leading cultural and historical institutions. Those institutions recently pitched in $40,000 to hire consultants to help devise ways to make that cultural district more appealing.

"The neighborhood looks seedy. It doesn't look as good as it should," explained long-time Mount Vernon booster Constance Caplan.

The result is a document of recommended physical and design improvements, some of which could be visible as soon as the spring. Others will take longer. But in the end, Mount Vernon should have better safety, sidewalks and lighting as well as improved streetscapes, signage and promotion.

"It's not a huge expense. It's a little bit here, little bit there," said Dennis Fiori, executive director of the Maryland Historical Society.

The goal is to assure that visitors can move easily among such attractions as the Basilica of the Assumption, Center Stage, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Maryland Historical Society, Peabody Institute and Walters Art Gallery. Leaders of these institutions initiated the study, with additional support from the Baltimore Community Foundation and the Municipal Arts Society.

Many of these institutions are currently expanding. They now want to make sure that they will be better linked to their neighbors and that the whole Mount Vernon district will have a unified look. They also know that public funds are limited and want to speak to the city about their needs in one voice.

Mount Vernon Square has experienced a remarkable facelift during the past decade. Its major players are now widening their focus. Their actions can only benefit the larger historic area, which contains apartments as well as leading restaurants and boutiques.

Pub Date: 12/21/96

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