Crown leader's family to buy 1917 mansion

$1.8 million offered for Rainbow Hall

May 14, 2001|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

The family of Crown Central Petroleum Corp. Chairman Henry A. Rosenberg Jr. has a $1.8 million contract to purchase Rainbow Hall, the Green Spring Valley mansion whose future was left in doubt when the retirement community that had occupied it for 40 years closed its doors.

The 1917 Georgian-style building, once home to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, was vacated in March by Baptist Home of Maryland/Delaware Inc., which defaulted on a bank loan.

A sale has been scheduled for next month to Rosemore Inc., a family-held company, said Rosenberg lawyer Patrick Shelley.

The Rosenbergs owned the home in the 10000 block of Park Heights Ave. between 1940 and 1960, before it was sold to Baptist Home in 1963.

The mansion was originally named Rainbow Hill, after the 42nd Rainbow Division commanded by MacArthur in France during World War I.

The name was changed to Rainbow Hall when Baptist Home bought it.

The pending purchase was announced last week at a meeting of the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission, which was scheduled to consider the home as a historic site, a designation that would protect it from demolition.

The hearing was postponed until June 14 to give Rosenberg a chance to testify.

Shelley said he did not know whether the Rosenberg family wants to preserve the building, but said, "the property has value to the family as a residence from when they were growing up."

Carolyn Jackson, Baptist Home's board president, said Baptist Home bought the house from Henry Rosenberg's mother.

She said a sales contract of $1.8 million will give Baptist Home enough money to pay a $1.6 million bank loan.

Designs for the home - a replica of an Irish Georgian mansion in Dublin, Ireland - were drawn by the Philadelphia architectural firm of Horace Trumbauer.

MacArthur lived there during the 1920s with his first wife, Henriette Louise Cromwell Brooks, the original owner.

Built for $1 million, the mansion may have been the largest private home in Baltimore County at the time, said John McGrain, the county historian.

The original house was 177 feet long and 75 feet wide, and included a reception hall, drawing room, sun porch, breakfast room and formal dining room. Baptist Home added a wing in 1969.

The house contains many original ornate details, including a colonnade of fluted wooden columns painted as faux green marble.

One of two Ming trees presented to MacArthur by Japanese Emperor Hirohito 75 years ago stands on the south side of the mansion.

Rainbow Hall was nominated for landmark status by Doug Carroll, a member of the Valleys Planning Council.

The administration of County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, which hired a historical consultant to evaluate the house, supports the nomination.

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