A 1930s campground will be revived in Gwynns Falls Park

A 1930s-era campground in Gwynns Falls Park will be revived with a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior announced Wednesday.

The campground, which is adjacent to the Cahill Recreation Center and the Jastrow Levin picnic grove, was a Girl Scout camp in the early 20th century, said Richard S.B. Smith, the director of Friends of Orianda House, a historic mansion in the park. The area includes a pavilion and a stone amphitheater.

“Gwynns Falls being a city park is so unique out of all the cities around the country, and that pavilion and that area is the only pavilion within the park system of that design,” Smith said. “The only other pavilions like that are in Patapsco [State Park].” He said it’s a long, open building with flagstone flooring and a wood beam cathedral ceiling.

The upgrade will include adding water and electrical service to the site, lighting, renovation of the pavilion, kitchen and storage areas, adding composting toilets and showers, additional camping pads, and renovation of the stone amphitheater.

The upgrades are part of a larger investment in Gwynns Falls Leakin Park, said Roni Marsh, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks. The Cahill Recreation Center is also being completely renovated, she said, and a new visitors center is being built in the Winans Meadow area of the park. Those projects are being funded by the state and Program Open Space, Marsh said.

At the campground, the city department of recreation and parks plans to increase family camping programs and offer the site for group camping, such as Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs, Marsh said.

Smith said the Cahill center was the site of the Mount Holly Inn at the turn of the 20th century, but it later burned down and was replaced by the recreation center. He said it is a beautiful site and he expected it to get good use after the renovation.

“For the location of where it sits, the views of the falls are incredible,” Smith said. “You’re at one of the highest points in the park while you’re there. That place could be a real hub for use by the neighborhood.”

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