Patterson Park to undergo $2.4 million restoration project

Renovations, plans to continue over 2 years

January 01, 2000|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

One of Baltimore's landmarks -- the 60-foot octagonal observation tower in Patterson Park called the Pagoda -- is expected to undergo a $400,000 renovation this year and reopen to the public.

"It's a landmark for people of Southeast" Baltimore, said Nancy Supik, community organizer for Friends of Patterson Park. "It's going to be a very important improvement."

The renovation of the Pagoda, which dates to 1891, is part of a master plan for Patterson Park that the city will continue developing over the next two years, said Chad Spangler, a planner with the city's parks department.

Other improvements at the 128-acre park, tucked among the neighborhoods of Butchers Hill, Canton and Highlandtown, will include new lighting around the perimeter, restoration of the Lombard Street and Pulaski Monument entrances and renovation of the boat lake.

In addition to the estimated $400,000 in public and private funds that would be spent on the Pagoda, $2 million has been earmarked for the other projects.

The hill on which the Pagoda sits, Hampstead Hill, is a historic spot that offers a view of Baltimore. In 1814, citizen volunteers gathered there during the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. The earthworks on which cannons were placed remain.

In 1964, Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin and the city's park board threatened to tear the Pagoda down unless it was renovated. Money was found for repairs.

Since then, the structure has undergone a series of renovations. But vandalism and neglect have left it with broken windows and faded, peeling paint.

"It has been partially restored at different times in its history, but this renovation is going to be a complete renovation of the building," said Supik.

The renovation is expected to be historically accurate.

Park supporters joined at the Pagoda Thursday night for a lighting ceremony, a holiday tradition that had gone unobserved in recent years. Four-foot-high letters spelled "Happy 2000" in green and pink lights.

The crowd applauded when the next word was lighted: "Hon."

"Lighting it for the new year was our way of saying there's hope; that something is going to happen to this pagoda in the year 2000," said Supik. "People are emotionally attached to that building."

Sun staff writer Kurt Streeter contributed to this article.

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