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After decades of vacancy, Baltimore's historic Auchentoroly Terrace mansion to be transformed into apartments

After decades of vacancy and neglect, a three-story mansion at 3400 Auchentoroly Terrace in West Baltimore will get new life as a 16-unit apartment building by the end of this year.

At the corner of the Auchentoroly Terrace historic district and Gwynns Falls Parkway — just feet from Druid Hill Park’s west border — the massive property was damaged in a fire in 2010.

Once contractors complete its transformation, the building will meet energy-efficiency standards, contain as many as three units that will be accessible to disabled tenants, and strive to remain relatively affordable for long-term tenants, according to Dan Midvidy, the project’s developer. The units will have stainless-steel appliances, energy-saving washers and gas dryers, high-efficiency air conditioning and furnaces and energy-efficient windows, he said.

Midvidy said the mansion, for years a “terrible blight” on an otherwise beautiful street, is a gateway to one of Baltimore’s most aesthetic neighborhoods.

“It’s an incredible piece of architecture with incredible views,” said Midvidy, of West Baltimore’s Meadow Development Group. “People are clamoring for this.”

Midvidy said the rent for single-bedroom apartment units will start at $850, with two-bedroom units available for $1,050 and a three-bedroom unit available for $1,350.

As a federally recognized historic property and because it’s within a Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation historic district, the once-dazzling gargantuan qualified for both local and federal tax credits, he said.

In all, the rehabilitation, which began in December, is expected to cost $1.85 million.

Johns Hopkins, executive director of the Baltimore Heritage Project, said the rehabilitation of the Auchentoroly Terrace mansion — before it could become unsalvageable — is worth celebrating.

“It’s so visible as part of the intersection — literally an anchor and a landmark for the intersection of Druid Hill Park and Gywnns Falls,” Hopkins said. “Buildings can only last so long without people in them.”

This isn’t the mansion’s first top-dollar deal. In 1909, the five-bedroom, buff-brick structure sold for around $24,000 to Eleanor Louise Moulsdale, according to The Baltimore Sun at the time. The purchase reportedly represented one of the largest transactions for a private residence at the time. In addition to steam heating and a complete laundry, the house contained a spacious garage that could accommodate two “large machines.”

“Although the residence forms one of a row that was built within the last year, it is entirely different from any of the others,” according to the Sun. “It is much larger, contains more appointments and all the cabinet work was made from special designs.”

A neighborhood often lauded for its Renaissance Revival-style design, bay windows, large porches and classic elegance, the Auchentoroly Terrace district was developed between 1876 and the mid-1920s and served as a prime destination for an influx of elite, immigrant German Jews. The district also served as the original home to Park School — developed as an alternative for Jewish students commonly excluded from prestigious private schools — and still houses Shaarei Tfiloh, one of the city’s largest Orthodox synagogues.

Barbara Anderson-Dandy has lived in the Auchentoroly Terrace district for about 40 years. Now president of the New Auchentoroly Terrace Association, she said she moved there for its access to a rich part of Baltimore’s culture that she believes is often overlooked.

“I can look out my window and see the conservatory, Druid Hill Park — we have so many assets here,” she said, adding that the Maryland Zoo is just a few blocks away. “The mansion is a major eyesore for that corner, that’s why we’ve worked so diligently to do the rehabilitation.”

Anderson-Dandy said while the mansion’s face-lift marks one giant step forward for many residents of the neighborhood, the community faces other challenges, including a lack of parking, a number of vacant homes and crime. But addressing the corner property will help boost the community’s momentum, she said.

“It will be a challenge, but we work on our challenges,” she said. “We’ve taken baby steps and at times it didn’t seem fruitful, but we see it now, all of our efforts coming together.”

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