After decades of decay, a former Locust Point convenience store has received a custom, head-to-toe interior renovation, converting the property into a sprawling townhouse now on the market for $1.269 million.
Gordon McKenzie, who took on the rehabilitation as a “passion project,” said he used to live in the neighborhood and remembers growing up near the boarded-up corner store at 1400 Andre St. Now a private contractor, McKenzie reached a deal with the descendants of the original shopkeepers to modernize it for residential use and split the profit.
“As I got older, I knew they would eventually want to do something with it,” he said. “I promised to try to keep it as historic as it is.”
The result, which took eight months of work, comes complete with four bedrooms, five bathrooms, hardwood floors, a two-car garage and a walk-in ice box left over from 1938 (perhaps a perfect place to store beer, McKenzie said.)
McKenzie updated the 4,810-square-foot building’s facade so that it adheres to modern building codes but preserved the storefront’s original shape and design. The garage now stands where the property once had a chicken coop and stable for horses that likely helped with deliveries.
As a neighborhood market, the store sold everything from ice to meats. A Lexington Market advertisement from 1912 placed in The Baltimore Sun listed the Locust Point store as a distributor of Rettberg’s Sausage. Another advertisement from 1920 listed it as a carrier of New Century Flour, and one from 1924 listed the store as a seller of Wizard Gas premium gas.
After he started work, neighbors bought the leftover appliances, furniture and remnants of the old store, which dates back to at least the early 20th century, McKenzie said. The structure was probably built around 1875.
Adam Lang bought the place sometime after immigrating to the United States from Germany as a 14 year old, according to a 1949 obituary from The Baltimore Sun. The neighborhood grocer ran his business there for almost 50 years before his death at age 71.
The Sun described Lang as a “familiar figure” to two generations in the neighborhood.
McKenzie used materials from the corner store and secondhand pieces to complete the renovation. He mended a railing that dates back to the original property to create a focal point on the ground floor and bought used railings to line the rest of the stairs. Much of the home’s wood comes from the property’s original roof, and much of its brick remains intact.
McKenzie, now an Eastern Shore resident, said the community has embraced the renovation.
“They’re glad to see something being done with it — they didn’t want someone coming in and tearing it down and turning it into apartments,” he said, adding that the previous owners entertained other offers before he made his. “There’s been no other renovation of this proportion around here, other than Silo Point.”
Beth Leety, a Baltimore real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, said she’s witnessed a trend of Locust Point developers molding dated properties into stylish, vertical living spaces to accommodate the neighborhood’s desirability. She attributes the area’s rapid growth and development efforts to the influx of young professionals and new transportation options — like Uber and the Charm City Circulator — into Locust Point.
In addition to excavating a lower level, McKenzie built a rooftop deck and patio. The interior also includes fireplaces, stainless steel appliances and marble and granite countertops.
The listing was posted online during the first week of March. Photographs of the Lang family, their store and their neighborhood — as well as a pair of gloves that likely belonged to Lang — are displayed in the home.
Still the price is very much on the high end for the neighborhood where prices range from the low-$200s for a smaller rowhouse to the upper six figures for a modern condo in Silo Point, the converted former Baltimore and Ohio Locust Point Grain Terminal Elevator.
“It’s very unique because it’s so wide,” Leety said of McKenzie’s converted storefront townhouse. “This will sell, but will it sell for $1.2 million, I don’t know.”