Fells Point festival goers help save historic buildings Neighborhood street fair features fund-raiser for structures, food and fun

October 05, 1997|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

When the first Fells Point Fun Festival was held in 1967, the neighborhood was being threatened with extinction -- the East-West Expressway was supposed to run right through the waterfront community, forcing the leveling of many of its 18th-century rowhouses.

This weekend, as Baltimore's oldest neighborhood celebrates its 31st Fun Festival, it faces a threat of a different kind. Three of the community's historic structures -- the London Coffee House, George Wells House and Miller's Wharf warehouse -- face demolition by the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. subsidiary that owns them.

All three structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They were condemned by city housing officials Aug. 7.

Fells Point residents and preservationists, some of whom successfully fought the expansion of Interstate 95 three decades ago, are working to formulate a deal in which Constellation Real Estate Group, the BGE subsidiary, would convey the buildings to another organization.

To help fund the effort, the Fells Point Homeowners Association is selling T-shirts, coffee mugs and raffle tickets for a weekend at the Admiral Fell Inn and dinner for two at Bertha's restaurant. The group hopes to raise $5,000 to $10,000.

"I think it's great that they're trying to save these buildings," said Carol Rolnick, a writer from Ellicott City who was at the festival yesterday to gather information for a book she is writing about Baltimore. "They add to the neighborhood's rich history."

Members of the homeowners group are staffing two booths to peddle their wares and collect donations. One of the booths is in the 800 block of S. Broadway. The other is near the endangered properties, at Thames and Bond streets, across the street from the beer garden.

"We came down to enjoy the music, have a beer and meet some friends," said Christine Lewis, 25, of Reston, Va., who was at the two-day festival yesterday with her boyfriend, Kevin Smith, 27.

More than 200 vendors are on hand to welcome the more than 300,000 people expected to visit the festival, which runs from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. today.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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