Restoring lost luster to a gem


Preservation: The owners of Samester Apartments are honored for their $1.5 million restoration of the Art Deco complex on Park Heights Avenue, one of several projects recognized by Baltimore Heritage.

June 22, 2000|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

WHEN NEW owners purchased the Samester Apartments in Northwest Baltimore in 1998, they could have wiped away many of the Art Deco touches that make the building so unusual.

Instead, after consulting with their architects, the owners restored details that help distinguish the 1939 apartment complex from many others up and down Park Heights Avenue, such as bull-nose columns and glass-block windows.

Today, it stands as the most fully developed (and restored) Art Deco-style garden apartment complex in Baltimore.

"They had an Art Deco gem, and they realized it," said Klaus Philipsen of ArchPlan Inc., the architect responsible for the restoration.

"We helped them by getting it designated a national landmark and planning a restoration that brought it back to life while strengthening its Art Deco character," he said.

Named for Sam and Ester Hammerman, the parents of builder Samuel Hammerman, the 74-unit Samester Apartments at 7000 Park Heights Ave. are one of six restoration projects that will receive awards next week from Baltimore Heritage, a citywide preservation advocacy group.

Baltimore Heritage's board gives annual awards to recognize excellence in restoration, renovation, rehabilitation or adaptive reuse of individual structures or groups of buildings.

The award for the $1.5 million Samester Apartments restoration will be presented to ArchPlan and the owner of the apartments, an affiliate of Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse.

Gabriel Kroiz, whose grandparents once lived in the building, was the project architect for ArchPlan, and Philipsen was the project director.

The awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Bank of America building, 10 Light St. To attend, call Kathleen Kreul at 410-685-2886.

Other winners of Preservation Projects Awards from Baltimore Heritage are:

The Boat Lake Pavilion at Baltimore Zoo, restored by the Maryland Zoological Society. Restoration architect: Kann & Associates.

Francis Scott Key Monument on Eutaw Place, owned by the City of Baltimore and restored by the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. Conservator: Steven Tatti.

Moorish Tower at Druid Hill Park, Baltimore City Department of Public Works. Restoration architect: Kann & Associates.

St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church in Mount Vernon, owned by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Restoration architect: Murphy and Dittenhafer of Baltimore.

Solomon's Corner, a mansion that has been restored for office use, with a top-level apartment, at Calvert and Biddle streets. Owners: Eddie and Sylvia Brown.

In addition, Baltimore Heritage is presenting four Preservation Honor Awards recognizing "personal or organization achievements" in preservation.

The recipients are: Baltimore Movies LLC (operators of the Charles Theater); Pembroke Housing Limited Partnership (developers of Pembroke Commons housing); Mary Ellen Hayward and Charles Belfoure, authors of "The Baltimore Rowhouse"; and state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat who has been instrumental in passage of state legislation that will promote preservation of buildings on Baltimore's West Side.

The Douglas H. Gordon Award for Preservation Advocacy will be presented to Dennis Zembala, former director of the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

The Block by Block Preservation Award, for projects that are being completed in stages over many years, will go to the Garrett Jacobs Mansion Restoration, a project of the Engineering Society of Baltimore. Restoration architect: Kann & Associates.

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