Church renovation furthers the renewal of Mount VernonThe...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 06, 1999

Church renovation furthers the renewal of Mount Vernon

The Sun's article on the revitalization of buildings in Baltimore's historic Mount Vernon neighborhood, "Polishing the city's rough diamond" (June 27), illustrated the important role these architectural jewels play in the life of our community. However, it overlooked the renovation plans of the First Unitarian Church at Franklin and Charles streets.

Our congregation will begin a new century with an ambitious capital campaign and a plan to restore the building, which has been called the finest American example of French Romantic Classicism, to its former glory.

Renowned French architect Maximilian Godefroy designed the domed building in 1817. Florence-born sculptor Antonio Capellano created the magnificent Angel of Truth bursting through clouds in red terra cotta above the church's arched entranceway.

Tiffany windows and a Tiffany mosaic, added in an 1890s renovation, also grace this landmark church.

The congregation still enjoys music from the pipe organ donated by long-time member Enoch Pratt. Many other local and national leaders have called this church home.

We should all work together to make sure the historic buildings of Mount Vernon continue to uplift and serve Baltimore for generations to come.

Judith A. Mayer, Baltimore

The writer is chair of the 2001 Committee of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.

St. James Church helps homeless shelter

We applaud The Sun's article on the 175th anniversary of St. James Episcopal Church, the first African American Episcopal congregation south of the Mason Dixon Line ("Congregation marks milestone," June 27).

We have a great regard for that parish, for the Rev. Michael B. Curry and church administrator Rob Ford, and for the way it supports our homeless shelter at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church at Saratoga and Charles streets.

The St. James volunteers are warm, giving and consistently helpful, making hearty dinners and working evening shifts with our homeless men every Thursday night throughout the winter season.

Our deepest thanks go to the men and women of St. James for their caring and humanitarian service.

Donald Lynne

Susan Lynne, Lutherville

The writers chair the homeless shelter at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Smart Growth is about a more livable world

Thomas Sowell's Opinion Commentary article, "Suburban sprawl a volley in nation's cultural war," is proof of the lack of information under which many opponents of Smart Growth are operating.

Had Mr. Sowell done any research before he began blasting environmentalists, he would have realized the reason for preserving farmland is not fear that we will run out of food (an argument I have never heard) but to preserve a uniquely American lifestyle.

And, as for Mr. Sowell's argument that there is nothing wrong with us spreading ever further into the countryside, I would direct his attention to the publications of many respected groups ranging from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to the governor's Office of Planning and Development.

They all agree that overdevelopment is a serious problem for our environment, public health and economy.

Contrary to Mr. Sowell's opinion, Smart Growth is an on-going conversation about making our world livable, our environment healthy and our economy strong.

Andrew S. Hudson, Baltimore

Belvedere development could resemble a strip mall

The Sun's article about the development plan for Belvedere Square, "Stunner of a Belevedere Square plan" (June 15) suggested that the surrounding neighborhoods were generally in favor of James J. Ward's proposal and that the only opposition to it came from the Belvedere Improvement Association (BIA).

This is not entirely accurate. Many of us outside the BIA are dismayed over the magnitude of this outrageous expansion proposal that violates accepted principles of good urban design.

The confidence we once had in Mr. Ward has been eroded by the way he has allowed the once-thriving Belvedere Square development to deteriorate over the last five years.

We fear his latest proposal will not only destroy the homes but irrevocably alter the character of our historic neighborhoods.

If the present proposal is successful, Belvedere Square will come to resemble a suburban strip malls. If it is not successful, the seeds of urban decay, which Mr. Ward has already sown, will bloom.

Helene F. Perry, Baltimore

Sport utilities send the wrong message

Thanks to The Sun for the article on Maryland political figures' extraordinarily poor choices of vehicles ("Politicians go for gas-guzzling SUV's," July 1).

As reports accumulate about the substandard brakes, excessive emissions and poor safety records of SUVs, I had wondered why there was no legislation against these vehicles. This article answered that question clearly.

I was amazed to read that Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is not concerned about the wastefulness of his vehicle and that Gov. Parris N. Glendening's spokesman isn't worried about the governor's SUV sending the wrong message.

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