The public will have an opportunity to testify Jan. 12 on a proposal to make the former Presbyterian Home of Maryland building at 400 Georgia Court, in Towson, a county historic landmark.
Therese McAllister, of Southland Hills, who has been involved in an effort coordinated by that community to add the building to the list of county landmarks and thereby save it from the possibility of demolition, announced the hearing date at a Greater Towson Council of Community Associations meeting Dec. 15. The council is an umbrella group that unites representatives from a variety of neighborhood groups in the Towson area.
Baltimore County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler confirmed that the hearing is currently scheduled for Jan. 12. If granted, a historic designation would restrict what changes can be made to the property, such as those to the building's appearance.
In August, the community associations council voted to support the efforts of the Southland Hills Improvement Association to place the building on the landmarks list. Neighbors say they fear the property will be developed in way that will damage or destroy the building, or bring excess traffic to the neighborhood.
The Presbyterian Home announced in May that it would leave the Georgia Court facility after nearly 90 years of operation, putting the building, parts of which date to the mid-19th century, up for sale. While the original structure, called the Bosley Mansion, has been added on to over the years, the mansion is still distinguishable by its tall white pillars.
The Preservation Alliance of Baltimore County, a historic building advocacy group, submitted the request to have the property added to the county's historic landmarks list shortly after the owners announced the sale. The alliance made the request at the behest of the Southland Hills community.
Submitting that request was essentially a way to pause the process of deciding the property's future, because while the designation is being considered the building can't be demolished, according to county officials.
On Jan. 12 the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission will hear testimony on the matter. The commission is composed of one resident from each of the seven County Council districts as well as three at-large representatives and experts from the fields of agriculture, home building, architecture, planning and historic preservation. It is the first governmental body that must approve the Preservation Alliance's request before the property can be added to the county's list of protected landmarks. Ultimately, the County Council would vote on whether to add the property to the list.
The agenda for the Jan. 12 meeting of the commission was not available online, but an agenda from its November meeting indicates that the hearing was postponed to Jan. 12 at the owner's request. The commission usually meets at 6 p.m. at room 104 inside the Jefferson Building, at 105 West Chesapeake Ave., in Towson.
Last summer, Caves Valley Partners, a Towson-based developer, signed a contract to buy the property and proposed turning it into office space for Baltimore County, a prospect neighbors protested, saying that they feared such a use would lead to traffic congestion and put stress on street parking in the neighborhood. Some neighbors also said they use the property and its large lawn as an unofficial neighborhood park.
Although Baltimore County officials eventually withdrew from the proposal, Caves Valley is studying options for the property "and is continuing a [dialogue] with the stakeholders in hopes of reaching an agreement on the preservation of the original Bosley Mansion," according to a letter sent from Presbyterian Home officials to Baltimore County Sept. 28.
Baltimore Sun reporter Pam Wood contributed to this report.