Cecil Apartments to shine again

URBAN LANDSCAPE

Rebirth: Developer Richard Brinker plans to renovate the circa-1900 building at 1123 Eutaw Place and market units to professionals who work in downtown Baltimore.

July 22, 1999|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

NEARLY A CENTURY after it opened as one of Baltimore's most elegant residences, the old Cecil Apartments building on Eutaw Place is about to be reborn for a new generation of urbanites.

Silver Spring-based developer Richard Brinker is planning to acquire the vacant, eight-level building at 1123 Eutaw Place and renovate it to contain 64 apartments by early 2001.

Brinker wants to attract employees of the nearby state office buildings and other professionals who work in downtown Baltimore and want to live near their offices. Monthly rents will range from $770 for a one-bedroom apartment to $950 for an apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The building is a half-block from the State Center Metro stop, and an adjacent lot will contain 57 off-street parking spaces.

"We're going to keep the name Cecil Apartments, as part of the heritage of the building," Brinker said in a recent presentation to Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. "I'm hoping to get started around Jan. 1, 2000."

The Cecil, later known as the Jackson Towers, is one of several apartment projects planned for the west side of downtown. Brinker estimated that his project will represent an investment of about $6 million to cover acquisition and renovation of the building. David Diesselhorst of Northern Virginia will be the architect for the renovation, and George Thomas of Philadelphia is serving as a historical consultant.

In conjunction with the project, the preservation commission voted earlier this month to enlarge the city's Bolton Hill Historic District to include the Cecil Apartments so the developer will be eligible for tax credits for historic preservation.

The commission also voted to add the former Eutaw Place Baptist Church at 327 Dolphin St., now known as the City Temple of Baltimore Baptist Church, to the Bolton Hill Historic District. The church was designated a city landmark in 1971.

"At CHAP, we're always excited to expand our historic districts and add to our landmark list," said chairwoman Judith Miller. "These two buildings are wonderful additions."

The church was constructed in 1869 and is the only building in Baltimore designed by Thomas Ustick Walter, the first president of the American Institute of Architects and an early practitioner of the Greek Revival style of architecture in the United States.

Designed in 1902 by Edward Glidden, the Cecil was one of the first architecturally significant apartment buildings in Baltimore. Offering house-sized residential units intended for fashionable living, it helped introduce the idea of apartment living in a city known primarily for its rowhouses.

The building is T-shaped in the plan; its central wing faces the street and contains the principal entrance. Constructed of tan brick with limestone and terra cotta ornamentation, the building marked the beginning of a trend toward lighter-toned buildings at the turn of the century.

Glidden went on to design several other notable apartment buildings in town, including the Marlborough apartments on Eutaw Place, the Washington Place and Homewood apartments on Charles Street, and the Esplanade near Druid Hill Park. During the early years of the 20th century, Glidden and his wife lived in the Cecil, along with many other socialites.

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