Between The Lines


April 19, 2004

A colorful joke

During preservationist lawyer John C. Murphy's speech to the Commission on Historical and Architectural Preservation last week, he championed the beauty of the colorful stained-glass windows in Baltimore's Basilica of the Assumption.

But his impassioned PowerPoint presentation turned out to be in vain. The commission voted 5-2 to approve the Basilica's restoration plan to replace the nine storytelling windows -- added in the 1940s -- with clear glass panels to allow the luminous natural light that famed architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe intended to stream into the 1821 Basilica's dome and tall windows.

Murphy showed a slide of The Premier See, a Baltimore archdiocese history book that has the image of one of the stained-glass windows on its cover.

"In the next edition, the cover will be blank," he said in an aside.

Everyone in the room laughed, even Murphy's rhetorical opponent Robert J. Lancelotta Jr., the Basilica Historic Trust's executive vice president.

-- Jamie Stiehm

Timely suggestions

A white belt with matching tie and shoes?

A jaywalking citation?

A lawyer's attache case?

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. and the County Council are looking for items to put into a time capsule at the kickoff ceremony for Towson's 150th birthday bash this month.

They are asking residents and county employees to submit ideas for the sesquicentennial capsule's contents by Wednesday at

According to the news release, the items have to fit into the 6-inch diameter, 24-inch long vessel, and should be "thoughtful" and "reflect the spirit of Baltimore County."

If all goes as planned, the selections will be excavated in 2154. One can only guess whether the matching white get-up -- the so-called "full Towson" -- will be in style then.

-- Stephanie Hanes

Constructive criticism

Mayor Martin O'Malley's trip to Chicago last week to study that city's school system included a meeting with Hosanna L. Mahaley, chief of staff for the Chicago public schools' chief executive.

Mahaley tried to garner a bit of sympathy from O'Malley, his senior staff and Baltimore schools' chief operating officer Carlton Epps Sr. when she complained that Chicago is building only two new schools each year, down from the five they had been constructing annually.

O'Malley and Epps scoffed.

"We don't even know how to spell `new buildings,'" O'Malley said.

-- Doug Donovan

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