Kirk Field demolished for business development Athletic showcase fell from glory to disrepair

August 12, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Memories of crowds cheering and high school athletes clashing gave way to the sounds of engines grinding and metal twisting yesterday as the city began demolishing Kirk Field, a local legendary athletic showcase.

Green Spring and Cloverland dairies will develop the 4.2-acre site along Exeter Hall and Kirk avenues, a plan that city officials welcome because it will save 400 jobs. But neighborhood residents and longtime high school sports fans viewed yesterday's demolition of the field bleachers as the end of an era.

One of the people reminiscing about the field's glory days yesterday was the man in charge of knocking it down. City Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III raced on the Kirk Field track in the early 1960s as an Edmondson High School hurdler.

"It was a big deal to go to Kirk Field," Henson said. "It's sad."

Kirk Field will be remembered for its vibrancy three decades ago when marching band trumpets blared and football teams swept across the field and hundreds of fans lined up at corner concession stands.

But over the last decade, the Northeast Baltimore field deteriorated, strewn with broken bottles and trash. Ribbons of graffiti clung to the walls of the field, whose cinder track was still being used by some senior citizens for their morning walks.

The city developed Kirk Field in 1955 for school sporting events. Area residents pleaded with the city to save the field, saying traffic and noise from the business expansion could reduce their property values.

But many high schools now rely on more modern college fields to hold events. With little use of the field and a chance to retain 400 dairy jobs, Henson said demolishing the field was inevitable.

"Things have moved on and changed," Henson said.

Pub Date: 8/12/98

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