It has been nearly 30 years since the Orioles played their last game at Memorial Stadium. In the past three decades the old ballpark was demolished and a new residential campus has taken shape around the old diamond and end zones.
The newest arrival is Gilchrist Hospice Baltimore, a 22-bed center now being completed along 36th Street, or the northernmost section of the former Memorial Stadium grounds.
“We turn no one away,” said Catherine Y. Hamel, Gilchrist’s president. “This is a building for Baltimore’s underserved, but it will be open to all.”
The hospice, to be finished in an exterior of fieldstone that complements the homes in the nearby Ednor Gardens neighborhood, will also have a provision for children in need of hospice care.
The story of Gilchrist’s end-of-life care in Baltimore goes back to the 1980s, when the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, an Anglican religious order based in Catonsville, opened a hospice.
In conjunction with the congregation of Mount Calvary Church, the nuns opened the Joseph Richey House on North Eutaw Street near the state office building complex.
The namesake, Joseph Richey, was born in Ireland and became an Anglican priest. He was a rector of Mount Calvary Church and was known for his work with Baltimore’s Black population. He was also a founder of the St. Mary the Virgin congregation in Walbrook.
During an earlier health crisis, the hospice served many AIDS patients. Years later the hospice expanded with a children’s section, Dr. Bob’s Place.
Gilchrist took over the Richey operations in 2014 and decided to build a new facility not limited by the close quarters of the 19th-century rowhouses the nuns originally used.
But the Joseph Richey Eutaw Street buildings will remain in the health care field. Shepard Pratt and its Mosaic Community Services program will occupy them to treat behavioral health patients.
“We are proud and honored to continue the mission of Joseph Richey and Dr. Bob’s Place,” Hamel, the president of Gilchrist. “Our newest building will be home to both adults and children.”
The transition of the former Memorial Stadium property to a new use is an example of making something successful without much fanfare.
Baltimore City broke ground for a municipal football stadium on May 8, 1922. It turned out to be a rush job; grass seed did not make it in until the fall. The Sun in its news accounts said landscapers watered the playing field daily to speed its germination. The place opened Dec. 2, 1922, with a banner contest — Army versus the Marines.
Between 1949 and 1954 this well-used stadium was totally rebuilt in brick and concrete and emerged as Memorial Stadium, home to the Orioles, Colts and Ravens. The old 33rd Street stadium was demolished in 2002 after the sports arenas moved downtown.
The whole 30-acre former Memorial Stadium campus is overseen by GEDCO, the Govans Ecumenical Development Corp. It has worked through partners to create a mixed-income retirement community of five structures.
At the center of the tract is an athletic field that follows the contours of the former playing arena. The path alongside the fields is a popular dog-walking and running circuit for Waverly and Ednor Gardens residents.
Once the Gilchrist Hospice is completed, the final phase of the building program on the old stadium site will continue on the Ellerslie Avenue side of the property.
The $15.3 million Gilchrist Center Baltimore is being completed by Southway Builders, a Baltimore firm named for a small street located a handful of blocks away.
“When we are open at Stadium Place, we will be the home to the only inpatient, freestanding residential hospice facility in Baltimore City,” said Hamel.