Historic status to be discussed for 14 structures at hospital

April 11, 2002|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Towson preservationists are asking Baltimore County to designate 14 buildings on the campus of Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital as historic -- twice the number that hospital administrators are willing to accept.

The matter will be brought before the county Landmark Preservation Commission tonight in a conflict prompted by recent development on the 110-year-old North Charles Street campus.

Over the past year, Sheppard Pratt has sold 13.7 acres for the construction of six Towson University student apartment buildings. The hospital has also sold 14.5 acres to GBMC Healthcare Inc., parent company of Greater Baltimore Medical Center, for a medical pavilion.

Most recently, the hospital announced an ambitious, $80 million plan to build an addition and renovate two aging wings of the hospital.

That activity led Jeff Lees, a former Goucher College professor of historic preservation, to nominate remaining Sheppard Pratt buildings for historic designation. Lees has received backing from Historic Towson Inc., an area preservation group.

"The whole scale and setting of that campus is historic," Lees said.

If the buildings are designated as historic, the hospital would need county approval to alter them. Under county rules, buildings can be placed on the list for their historic role, beauty, architectural excellence, design by a noted architect or construction by a master builder.

Sheppard Pratt officials argue that they have kept preservation in mind while dealing with development on campus. The hospital will turn its famed Casino Building into a student hub.

"We feel we have a proven track record of being preservationists," said Bonnie Katz, a spokeswoman for the hospital. "And we would like to have the flexibility to continue on that path."

The 14 structures that preservationists want placed on the historic list are the hospital's main A and B wings; its power plant; the admissions building and connecting wings; a 1924 barn and silos; a gazebo and wood bridge; a stone bridge; the receiving building and garage; the Gatehouse; the Casino Building; Norris Cottage; and two houses.

The seven buildings Sheppard Pratt is willing to accept as historic are the A and B wings, the Gatehouse, the Casino Building, Norris Cottage and the two houses.

If structures are designated historic by the commission, the matter would then be sent to the County Council.

The Landmark Preservation Commission will meet at 7 p.m. in Room 407 of the County Courts Building, 401 Bosley Ave., Towson.

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