Balto. Co. panel tags 13 sites at Sheppard Pratt for preservation

Hospital officials oppose listing of all buildings

April 13, 2002|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Thirteen of 14 sites on the campus of Sheppard Pratt Hospital have been recommended to Baltimore County as historic landmarks, possibly interfering with the hospital's redevelopment plans.

The county Landmark Preservation Commission sided late Thursday night with Towson preservationists who wanted all 14 sites designated as historic.

The matter goes before the County Council, which will have final say on the designation. If approved, the hospital would need county approval to alter any of the selected structures.

"I think we made a positive first step," said Jeff Lees, a Towson architect who nominated the sites for historic designation. "The County Council has to approve it, and that's still a hurdle."

Sheppard Pratt officials appeared dejected by the 15-member commission's ruling. The hospital had agreed on designating seven of the sites historic landmarks but balked on the remaining seven.

During the past year, Sheppard Pratt has leased some of its land for the construction of apartments for students at Towson University. It has also sold 14.5 acres to GBMC Healthcare Inc., parent company of Greater Baltimore Medical Center, for a medical pavilion.

Most recently, Sheppard Pratt announced an ambitious $80 million plan to build an addition and renovate two aging wings. Hospital officials told commission members that keeping the other seven sites from being designated historic would give the hospital flexibility in using the campus to help provide psychiatric treatment.

"The hospital mission is not to preserve buildings, but to provide health care," said Robert A. Hoffman, an attorney for the hospital.

Asked whether the historic designation could jeopardize the proposed development on the 111-year-old North Charles Street campus, Hoffman replied: "Absolutely."

In casting his votes to recommend the sites as historic, commission member W. Boulton Kelly admonished the hospital.

"We're trying to say, `Respect some of this [history] more,'" Kelly said.

Recommended for historic designation are Sheppard Pratt's A and B wings; its power plant; the admissions building with connecting wings; a 1924 barn and silos; a gazebo and wood bridge; a stone bridge; the stone Gatehouse; the Casino Building; Norris Cottage; and two springhouses.

The only building not placed on the list was the hospital's receiving building.

Councilman Wayne M. Skinner, who represents the Towson area, said yesterday that he would urge that four of the approved sites be removed from the list: the barn, the admissions building, the power plant and the stone bridge.

Skinner said he would like to save the barn silos and the admissions buildings' connecting wings. Hospital officials welcomed the proposal.

"If the council follows Wayne's recommendation, the hospital can live with the structures on the list," Hoffman said.

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