A 122-year-old stone church in the Remington area could face demolition to make way for a Walmart loading dock as part of the planned 25th Street Station shopping center.
Area residents are concerned that WV Urban Development, which plans to build the center with Walmart as the anchor, seems determined to tear down the structure at 24th and Sisson streets in the small Fawcett neighborhood. The long-vacant church was built in 1891 as First Methodist Episcopal Church, an extension mission church for Lovely Lane United Methodist at 220 St. Paul St.
"I see no reason why that church needs to be torn down," Cross, who lives three blocks from the church, told the Baltimore City Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel on Oct. 10.
As plans stand now, the church and its cinder block addition would be razed and its stones would become part of a retaining wall that the developer would build around the perimeter of the project at 24th and Sisson streets. The stones in the wall would "remind us of what was here," said Old Goucher resident Kelly Cross, a supporter of the church, who toured the site with a reporter Oct. 14.
Cross and other supporters of saving the church argue that the developer made plans to raze it several years ago, when Lowe's was expected to be co-anchor of the shopping center. At that time, plans called for the site of the church to be a Lowe's loading dock, to be built below grade. But Lowe's has since pulled out of the project and church supporters say Walmart's loading dock could be built at grade elsewhere on the shopping center site.
"If you see old pictures, it's a really beautiful, charming little structure," Cross said. "The stone work is in great shape. The interior would obviously have to be totally rehabbed."
For Cross, 34, the church is symbolic of an area that is in the midst of a revitalization. Cross and his husband, Mateusz Rozanski, are renovating their 6,000-square-foot, double-wide row house with high ceilings, nine bedrooms and 12 fireplaces in the 2300 block of Maryland Avenue and they say an investment banker has purchased a house at the end of their block.