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Waverly Town Hall Nears Landmark Designation

Waverly Town Hall is one of the few remaining from neighborhoods that were annexed into the city.

Imagining Greenmount Avenue as something other than a bustling urban corridor can be difficult. But at one time Waverly was a sleepy Victorian village that wealthy Baltimoreans would visit to escape the stifling heat of the inner city.

Most remnants of the original village have been knocked down, paved over or destroyed in one way or another. But there are pieces of it still intact. One of those pieces is the Waverly Town Hall at the corner of Greenmount Avenue and 31st Street.

And now the structure, which was built in 1873, is one step closer to being named a Baltimore landmark.

“Town halls in Baltimore are very, very rare,” said Eric Holcomb, a staff member for the Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. 

The Baltimore Planning Commission voted in favor of adding the building to the landmark list during a hearing Thursday. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the City Council must now approve legislation adding the structure to the list before it’s officially granted landmark status.

Once a building is granted landmark status, any modifications to its exterior must meet guidelines established by the city’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation.  

Despite the overwhelming support of surrounding community groups and elected officials for adding the structure to the landmark list, some members of the commission questioned granting the status to the building.

Commissioners Victor Bonaparte and Darlene Kennedy questioned the purpose of naming the building a landmark because much of the historic details on its exterior have been removed.

They also said they were concerned because the building’s owner, Domingo Kim, who also owns the Stadium Lounge, wasn’t present at the hearing.

“It bothers me that a community wants to do this without the support of the person that owns the building,” Kennedy said.

However, Kim did attend the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation’s April hearing on adding the property to the landmark list and did not object. 

Despite some objections from commissioners, the commission voted overwhelmingly to approve naming the building a landmark.

Joe Stewart, a Waverly resident who has led the movement, said it's reassuring the city is standing with the community.

"Greenmount Avenue's Waverly commercial corridor was never fairly compensated for the loss of thousands of fans spending millions of dollars here before and after every game at Memorial Stadium," Stewart wrote in an e-mail.  "We will find partners in the private and public sectors who have the wherewithal and willingness to invest in our village and use historic tax credits the way they are meant to be used."

Mair May 20, 2011 at 02:11 PM
THANKS for the history lesson. I wouldn't have guessed that Waverly was far enough outside of the city to make a difference with summer temperatures. "We will find partners in the private and public sectors who have the wherewithal and willingness to invest in our village and use historic tax credits the way they are meant to be used." Great attitude!!!
Lisa McO May 20, 2011 at 03:59 PM
That's great they can put more effort into the history of the community but why not focus on the community in the present. Although Waverly has it's great moments. Why not focus on what's happening in the present including a struggling mainstreet, which apparently I heard their Board just fired their newly hired Mainstreet manager, plus a merchants association that is non-exsistent. I think Waverly has more important things to focus on then things that happened in the 1800's.
Joe Stewart May 21, 2011 at 08:54 PM
I encourage the previous comment writer to read "Village life goes on along Old York Road: self-guided historic walking tour of the Waverly Main Street commercial corridor. It is free at the Waverly Branch of the Library and also can be downloaded online at www.waverlymainstreet.net. Since the 1850s York Turnpike a/k/a Greenmount Avenue has had a continuing procession of merchants serving the needs of many surrounding communities. To quote from "Village life..." about these men and women, "small shop owners have always struggled for survival in a brutal economic world. Their willing ness to open shop and carry on takes true grit. Waverly Main Street is proud to work with merchants to enhance the appearance of the commercial corridor and to partner with private and public institutions to promote historic restoration efforts." Huntingdon Baptist and St. Johns in the Village Churches have served this area for more than 150 years. That is history worth celebrating. Villagers from north, south, east and west of the Waverly Fire House, came together to "Save #31" which has been served us from the same building since 1901. It's restoration is something we are all proud to be a part of. Do we remember the Boulevard and the Waverly theaters and would we like to see those buildings look more like they did in the 1930s? Absolutely, yes! Are we happy that the Giant developers renovated the Old Waverly Station Post Office that now houses Ace Hardware. We are. We celebrate our history!
Mair May 22, 2011 at 01:12 AM
Thanks for the link!

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