The Mount, in disrepair, goes for $502,500

The once-grand mansion had been a nursing home

August 04, 2005|By William Wan | William Wan,SUN STAFF

THE MOUNT — --The Mount - once the mansion of a prominent Baltimore family, then a nursing home for the elderly and now a vacant building of collapsed ceilings, rotting wood and cobwebs - was sold last night for $502,500 at a sunset auction on the premises near Gwynns Falls Park.

Before the sale, about 50 people toured the 15-room mansion and the surrounding property of more than an acre. They stepped carefully over fallen debris and peered through gaping holes in the walls.

Then, crowding around the warped wooden porch in front of the stone building, they mostly watched as the bidding ratcheted up in increments of thousands of dollars, until just two competitors remained - and one gave up with a sigh past a half-million.

The loser, Cathy Gonsalves of Brooklyn, N.Y., said she had hoped to turn the run-down house into a bed-and-breakfast.

The winner declined to give his name, but neighborhood residents said he had toured the area a few days before the auction and told them he wanted to convert the structure into administrative offices for mentally disabled services.

"I'm just happy someone's going to fix it up," said next-door neighbor Patricia Franklin, 68. The decrepit building had gone from bad to worse in recent years, attracting wild dogs, trouble-making teenagers and drug users, she said.

Money from the sale will go to the property owner, Uniting For Life, a nonprofit group focusing on African-American leukemia patients, said its founder, Roland O. Campbell Jr.

A real estate businessman, Campbell said he started the group in 1993 when his eldest daughter died of leukemia.

"My hope is whoever gets the building saves it," Campbell said. "It has a lot of historic value."

The Mount was built in the mid-19th century, designed by William H. Reasin, an architect known for his work on The Sun's Iron Building, which was completed in 1850.

The mansion's original owner was James Carey Jr., a Quaker businessman, philanthropist and early trustee of Johns Hopkins Hospital. About a century later, it became a 24-bed nursing home.

The mansion was last auctioned, according to newspaper articles, in 1971 as several of the nursing home's elderly residents peered anxiously through the windows.

Even then, it needed extensive repairs, estimated at $50,000 - and the winning bid was $30,000, from a group of doctors.

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