College restores Merchants Club Renovation: As part of its work, Baltimore International College reveals a long-covered, stained glass skylight.

Urban Landscape

December 17, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

SEVEN YEARS after it acquired the old Merchants Club on Redwood Street, Baltimore International College has completed $100,000 worth of improvements designed to enhance it as a setting for classes, meetings and college receptions.

This month, workers completed restoration of a stained glass skylight above the building's main staircase. Bearing the letters "MC" for Merchants Club, the skylight had been covered up since the 1940s. A penthouse was installed so it could once again let in natural light.

"For the first time since World War II, visitors to this historic building will be able to look up and see the beauty of the stained glass" above, said Dr. Roger Chylinski, president of the college, formerly known as Baltimore International Cullinary College. "We are very excited about this."

Built in 1905 at 206 E. Redwood St., the four-story building housed Baltimore's oldest private dining club, patronized by many prominent Baltimoreans who worked in the surrounding financial district.

Classrooms and offices

After the club experienced financial troubles and closed, the college bought the building in 1991 for use as its center for finance and operations. It contains classrooms and administrative offices. Its Reading Room and Blue Room have been used for receptions, meetings and other social events.

Other improvements to the building include a new commercial kitchen, new carpeting and repairs to an elevator and the air conditioning system. The college also has committed $4,000 for the Downtown Partnership's Streetscape Beautification Program, which will address sections of Redwood Street next spring.

The Merchants Club is one of half a dozen properties in downtown Baltimore that Baltimore International College owns and has been upgrading at a cost of more than $2.4 million.

Baltimore International College, a regionally accredited, independent college has more than 500 students. It offers baccalaureate and associate degrees and certificate programs through its School of Culinary Arts, School of Business and Management and School of Evening and Weekend Studies. Besides its downtown Baltimore campus, it has a 100-acre campus in Virginia, County Cavan, Ireland, about 50 miles northwest of Dublin.

Other projects

Other Baltimore projects that the college has under way or recently completed involve:

Commerce Exchange at 17 Commerce St. The college's foundation purchased the building in 1993 from USF&G Corp., which renovated it in the 1980s, and converted it to a classroom and office building. The college has committed $50,000 to paint the building's exterior trim and $20,000 for the Streetscape Beautification Program.

Calvert Center, which includes a four-story building at 25 S. Calvert St. and the former Stark Office Supply buildings at 202, 204 and 206 Water St. Since buying the properties in 1990 and 1991, the college has located offices, classrooms, kitchen labs, a bookstore and a cooking demonstration theater there and spent about $30,000 to refurbish and clean the exteriors.

Hopkins Inn, a 26-room bed and breakfast at 3404 St. Paul St. in Charles Village. Baltimore International College acquired the inn in 1995 and has spent $75,000 on roofing and exterior painting.

Mount Vernon Hotel at 24 W. Franklin St., a former YMCA building that was converted to a hotel in the 1980s. The college bought the building in 1993 and operates a 191-room hotel and the Washington Cafe restaurant there, giving students experience for careers in the food service and lodging industries. The college is spending $300,000 to modernize guest rooms, the restaurant, coffee lounge and kitchens.

Little Italy center

The former David E. Weglein Elementary School at Pratt Street and Central Avenue in Little Italy. The college bought the building in 1989 from the city for $2 million, with much of the cost forgiven by city authorities who saw the economic value of keeping the college downtown.

An initial phase of renovations was completed in 1993 at a cost of $700,000, and the college recently received confirmation to use $1.8 million in loan proceeds from tax-exempt state bonds to launch a second phase of renovations on Jan. 1. This phase will involve repair and replacement of fixtures, floors, stairways, walls, ceilings, bathrooms and mechanical systems, and installation of an elevator. When complete, the Little Italy center will contain laboratories, classrooms, a student cafeteria, an expanded resource center, gymnasium, auditorium and greenhouse, representing a total investment of $3.5 million.

Pub Date: 12/17/98

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