Granting status to informal landmarks


It's time that our unsung landmarks have their day. These are the familiar places we seemingly pass every time we get in a car. But they haven't been granted formal landmark status. Here's an imperfect list.

There's the intersection and environs of Belair Road and Erdman Avenue. The Erdman Avenue White Tower and its neighbor, the La Fontaine Bleu, certainly count. Better not forget Al Bruno's Crosstown Liquors and, across the street, the Getty gas station, a 1930s fantasy bungalow masquerading as a filling station.

I wish all landscape architecture were as fine as the stone gazebo at Mothers' Garden, 32nd Street and Harford Road.

And all schools should be built with the gracious lines of Brehms Lane Elementary, No. 231, 3500 Brehms Lane.

And, though it's showing its age, Orye's Liquors, in the 800 block of E. 25th St., still shows distinct signs of the 1930s hamburger and milkshake drive-in that it was originally. I always imagined a young Dick Powell serving grilled cheese sandwiches there.

The Tastykake sign, atop a building at North Avenue and Barclay Street, is a gem. And it's clock keeps time, too.

The state Mass Transit Administration's Kirk Avenue bus barn and yard. Ditto, the MTA's bus headquarters with the impressive slate roof on Bush Street in Carroll Park.

Among automobile showrooms, Chesapeake Cadillac, Charles and 24th streets, is the tops.

Let's hear it for the Tudor Arms apartment house, University Parkway at Tudor Arms Avenue.

Downtown, there's the Greyhound-Trailways bus station on Fayette Street, the Chimney Corner house at St. Paul and Centre streets (now a law office) and Hamburger's store, Charles and Fayette streets.

On the east side, note the Esskay meat-packing plant's sign in the 3800 block of E. Baltimore St.; the marvelous Pompeian olive oil works in the 4200 block of Pulaski Highway that's evocative of Spain or Sicily. And the Highlandtown railroad bridge neatly separates the "hill" of the neighborhood and its Greek restaurants and shops from the Eastern Avenue shopping rialto.

On the west side, the pylon at Mondawmin Mall, which dates from the 1950s, is a familiar landmark on Liberty Heights Avenue. Another landmark is the Gillis Memorial Community Church in the 4000 block of Park Heights Ave. And the Moorish columns on the former Avalon Theater in the 4300 block of Park Heights recall scenes from a Rudolph Valentino movie.

The building housing Jim Parker's bar and liquor store in the 3800 block of Liberty Heights Ave. seems to have been transported from Old Seville. The old firehouse across the street is a delight and a throwback to the era of a Dalmatian dog on the end of a hook-and-ladder truck.

And certainly one of Baltimore's most eye-catching private residences is a bungalow at Garrison Boulevard and Gwynns Falls Parkway. Its siding consists of alternating bands of jet black and white panels. It's op-art.

And, on a blazing hot July afternoon, the sun rays bounce off the gold dome of St. Bernadine's Church in the 3800 block of Edmondson Ave.

And Pikesville has its Mr. Fritz hair stylist salon on Reisterstown Road.

Woodlawn has its lake and old stone school, now a Baltimore County senior citizens' center.

And U.S. 40 West, which continues to endure a commercial pounding, has its Edmondson Drive-In movie in the 6000 block of Baltimore National Pike. And the last time I was there, Westview Shopping Center still had its big "W," but the place is being gussied up and that fixture may go.

The International House of Pancakes on York Road in Govans. And let's not forget Maenner's produce market and the old Hochschild, Kohn & Co. building, now a Pier One store at Belvedere Avenue and York Road. Also at Belvedere and York, the Hess Shoe shop with its 1950s interior rates high.

Celebrating its 75th birthday this year, Towson State University's Stephens Hall with its bronze tower imparts class to York Road, just south of Towson. The building was modeled after Bickling Hall, the one-time home of Anne Boleyn of Henry VIII fame.

Don't dare touch the old Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad's stone abutments at York Road, south of the ever-ugly Towson Library.

And let's not forget the U.S. 50 (St. Margaret's) restaurant masquerading as a Dutch windmill. It's now the Texas Steak and Barbecue.

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