Good News for the Hebrew Orphan Asylum!

Posted on February 13th, 2013 by

debA blog post by Research Historian Dr. Deb Weiner.

Recently there was good news in the fight to save the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the endangered building that is Baltimore’s second most important Jewish historic site according to one expert (namely, me).

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, early 1920s. JMM 1985.90.17

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, early 1920s. JMM 1985.90.17

Our friends at Baltimore Heritage, Inc., the city’s leading advocate for historic preservation, report the following:

“With the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation taking the lead, we have made great strides towards the preservation and reuse of this important West Baltimore landmark.

  • Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development has granted the Coppin Heights CDC $100,000 to stabilize the building. Not only does stabilization address the building’s severely compromised roof but it also allows architects and engineers to work safely inside to assess conditions and complete redevelopment plans.
  • Coppin Heights CDC has now secured $10 million in state and federal funding with support from the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program, the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, and the New Markets Tax Credit program. This is great progress towards securing the resources necessary to restore the building and bring it back as an asset to the neighborhoods of Greater Rosemont.
  • Finally, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced that West Baltimore, including the area around the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, is one of five new Health Enterprise Zones across the state – a program that opens up new incentives for providing medical care to residents in under-served neighborhoods like West Baltimore. The announcement comes as welcome news, as the Hebrew Orphan Asylum is slated to be transformed into the Center for Health Care and Healthy Living to help address the same health disparities that the new Health Enterprise Zone is designed to reduce.”
The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, 2010.

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, 2010.

Congratulations and thanks to the Coppin Heights CDC, Coppin State University (the building’s owner), and Baltimore Heritage, Inc., for their tremendous efforts in trying to save this building and turn it into a valuable asset for West Baltimore.

The fight isn’t over – there is plenty that still needs to get done and the tax credit financing is contingent on finding some private financing as well. (Could the Jewish community possibly help with this??) But as Baltimore Heritage Inc.’s Eli Pousson says, “We’ll get there!”

For more on the story, see Jacques Kelly’s recent Sun article.

And for more on the building, see the Baltimore Heritage website.

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