Dedicated group fights to save a Savage community landmark


March 17, 2000|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

RESIDENTS OF Savage and those who pass through town often pause as they slow for the stop sign at Baltimore and Foundry streets. The Romanesque, slate-roofed stone building at the corner is an anomaly in this town of wood-frame, modest dwellings. Carroll Baldwin Memorial Institute, the stone building, was meant to last.

Built by the workers of Savage Mill in the 1920s, the hall was a community center and recreation hall at a time when few people owned cars and Savage was an isolated company town.

The hall has been a movie theater, bowling alley, dance hall and library. It now houses an auditorium and offices whose rental helps defray heating expenses.

The hall is used by community groups for meetings and is available to community members for rent. Recent events have included a community-wide Halloween party and a benefit performance of "A Christmas Carol."

It's a lovingly constructed building showing signs of wear. It is maintained by an all-volunteer group, also called Carroll Baldwin Memorial Institute. For decades, members have routinely cleaned gutters, painted windows and performed housekeeping tasks.

But the building was showing signs of wear.

The roof leaked, the interior plaster was cracked, the heating system hissed and "air conditioning" was provided by cracks in the window frames.

Making these repairs required money and expertise. For the past several years, the board of directors and the officers of the institute have been applying for grants to fix these problems.

This year, the building's roof was repaired.

There was much rejoicing. According to Corrine Arnold, president of the institute, it will soon be possible to address other needs in the hall.

With the roof fixed and the impending construction of access ramps to make the building more accessible, the long-delayed work will be finished.

Arnold and others have a long wish list that includes sanding the floor and plastering and repainting the interior, which is mint green.

"The next step is to make the interior look pleasing," Arnold said. "I remember the events from my childhood."

"The only way to continue to have the building usable is to get the building back on its feet. I think we take it for granted. The hall has survived with a group of people who have put in their time and their sweat to maintain this building. There is a limit. You can only do so much without funding."

The group is applying for appropriate grants, and Arnold is seeking one from the state for historic buildings.

Other fund-raising efforts are afoot. The institute has had "Savage, Maryland" by longtime resident Vera Filby reprinted. This volume, in a limited edition of 500, recounts the history of the village from its origins in the early 1800s to 1965, when Filby wrote the book.

She has paid the printing expenses for the 500 volumes so all proceeds from the sale will benefit the hall.

Filby, who has lived in Savage since 1957, originally wrote the book to assist newcomers like herself. She gives credit to her husband, P. W. The big plus -- he was at the Peabody Library and then moved to the Maryland Historical Society.

"He knew who to introduce me to: the archivists and the librarians and the curators. I had that kind of help and assistance in doing it," Filby said of her research efforts.

The aim of all of this, Arnold said, is to improve the hall so that it can once again serve as a community center.

"We want to make the hall an integral part of everyday life in Savage."

Filby will give a talk on Savage history and sign copies of her book at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Borders Books & Music in Columbia.

Rummage sale

Emmanuel United Methodist Church, 10755 Scaggsville Road, Laurel, will hold a rummage sale from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 24.

Select household items, toys and clothing. A dinner break will be held from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Information: 301-725-5200.

Tip Line

If you have a news tip in Savage/North Laurel, call Lisa Respers at 410-715-2832 during the day or leave a message after hours. If you have information on community events in Savage/ North Laurel, call Fay Lande at 410-715-2811.

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