19th-century mansion in Glen Burnie is demolished

Stoll house is razed after Arundel threatens owner with legal action

March 13, 2003|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

The hydraulic jaws of an excavator took giant bites out of the Mazie Smith Stoll house in Glen Burnie yesterday morning, shaking the foundation of the Civil War-era structure and causing masonry and wood beams to collapse in a cloud of dust.

By dusk, the once-regal mansion at Crain Highway and Furnace Branch Road was but a memory, or at best an archival image on computer disc or Kodak Gold paper.

The owner of the 19th-century farmhouse, which historians think might have sheltered runaway slaves, hired a demolition crew last week to raze it.

Anne Arundel County had threatened to take owner Nageswara K. Karipineni of Clarksville to court if he didn't tear down the house, which has been empty since the early 1980s.

"That structure needed to come down," said William R. Bryant, the county's code enforcement administrator, who has been after Karipineni for years to secure the house against vandals or demolish it. "As far as I'm concerned, it's over and done with."

Many of those who watched yesterday as the excavator worked said they won't soon forget the mansion or its last occupant, an elderly widow whose name remains linked to the house.

"It was beautiful to me," said County Councilwoman Pamela G. Beidle, a Linthicum Democrat who as a child visited Stoll at her home. "I remember the house had hardwood floors and a big brick fireplace. It was a shame over the years to see it deteriorate."

Beidle remembered Stoll as a schoolteacher whose former students treated her with respect and admiration years after she retired.

Stoll, who sold the house to developers in the early 1980s, might have been related to the original owner of the house, G.W. Smith. A small cemetery behind the house includes Smith family graves.

Beidle is one of several county officials who have tried over the years to save the house. In the past two decades, it had been considered as a possible home for the elderly, an upscale restaurant, a frame shop and a conference center. None of those plans came to fruition, largely because Karipineni refused to sell. State records show that he has owned the property since 1992.

"It's sad that a house of that historical nature has to come down, but you have an owner who wasn't willing to take advantage of any offers or restoration programs," said Beidle, who wrote Karipineni several times in 1998 in hopes of persuading him to work with the county to renovate the 13-room mansion.

"I never got a response," she said.

Karipineni, who agreed to tear down the old house after the county threatened to take him to court and levy steep fines, could not be reached for comment yesterday. The house was the subject of an article Tuesday in The Sun.

At the demolition site yesterday, Ray Evans, 67, of Glen Burnie tried to capture last images of the dilapidated mansion with a digital camera.

As the excavator crashed through a third-floor dormer window, Evans said: "You have to wonder who looked out that window and what did they see."

Across the street at a McDonald's restaurant, Marlene Bilello, 55, and Gary Hale, 44, both of Glen Burnie, sipped coffee as a portion of the house's slate roof tumbled to the ground. "We always wondered who owned it and why they didn't take it down," Bilello said.

Even members of the demolition crew from Garland Brian of Highland, which was hired by Karipineni for $12,000 to tear down the house, remove debris and fill in the basement, moped a bit.

Company associate Merle Keesler, 78, said, "I'm an antique, and I hate to see antiques messed with."

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