Changes are coming at 2 sites, and so the locals are talking


Two local institutions -- the Edmondson Drive-In Theatre and its Sunday morning flea market and South Baltimore's Muhly's bakery and coffee shop -- are in for changes that have neighborhood residents talking.

The 18-acre Edmondson property, long owned by the George Brehm family, will be bulldozed for a new Home Depot hardware and garden center.

The classic 1954 drive-in movie, and the popular daytime Sunday flea market, will end later this year.

And the Muhly family, which has operated a retail bakery adjacent to the Cross Street Market in South Baltimore since 1852, has decided to sell its thriving coffee and bake shop.

The family will continue in the commercial baking business "for the time being." The coffee shop remains open under new management and will continue to sell the Muhly baked goods.

Local collectors and flea market junkies reacted with shock to the news that the Edmondson Drive-In would disappear.

Early yesterday morning, for the past 17 years, dozens of shoppers have lined up for early admission to the open air bazaar held on Baltimore National Pike near Winters Lane.

"I can't believe this is closing. I come out here to clean out my house. You name it, it's here -- household items, lawn equipment, china, cookware, children's wear. And the people . . . They are black and white, Iranian, Oriental, Russian. It's like a foreign market. You can always buy it at Edmondson," said Mary Dixon, of Glen Burnie.

"And the people....They are black and white, Iranian, Oriental, Russian. It's like a foreign market. You can always buy it at Edmondson.

"You have to be in good shape to climb the hill. There's no level ground. And you have to be early and first to get the good stuff. It goes fast."

Robert Helsley, who has a Howard Street antiques stall, recalled visits to the flea market back in the 1970s: "There was great stuff then. Great trash too, but it was real experience. I think Baltimore County shouldn't allow the place to be developed. It's a great open space and only last week I found some great 1950s Buck Rogers toy guns there and a box of antique Christmas ornaments for $1."

Revenue from the outdoor movie operation, which still attracts a few cars and remains in business, had been less than the weekly flea market, which costs sellers $20 for a space and buyers 50 cents admission.

The drive-in is marked by a classic 1954 neon sign. In that era, Catonsville and West Baltimore pastors regularly denounced the drive-in as a "passion pit."

Attendance seemed to go up with each successive admonition to stay away. Home Depot officials in Atlanta said they hope to have a new store open by 1992. The Brehm family also owns the ever-crowded Westview Cinemas, which remain open.

Chris Muhly, one of the owners of Muhly's Bakery at South Charles and Cross streets, confirmed persistent rumors that his family-run business is to be sold to new owners.

"We hope it will all remain the same. My father and I will be around for the next two weeks to smooth things over," he said. The new owners of the combined coffee and bake shop are Jin Chae and Jung Kim.

Muhly said it was "quite possible" that he and his father would withdraw from the baking business altogether if a buyer was found for the commercial baking operation. In the meantime, he will continue to make the cakes, breads, buns and his Federal Hill layer cake. Muhly's was once exclusively in South Baltimore. But it expanded to shopping centers and had shops in city neighborhoods and markets. Over the past few years, it has sold off those operations, though it sells baked goods wholesale.

Catonsville's Mount de Sales Academy of the Visitation, a historic Baltimore County girls' Catholic high school, rededicated its 1858 Music Hall yesterday.

Board President Rev. Fr. Michael Roach spoke on the history of one of Catonsville's most glorious interior spaces, a freshly painted hall that has a fine Victorian trompe-l'oeil ceiling. The original ceiling artwork was preserved, untouched, in its original hues. The large building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There's an open house today at South Baltimore's old hall of justice, the 1896 Southern Police Station, in the first block of E. Ostend St., from 4 to 7 p.m. The opening is sponsored by Learning Independence through Computers, a non-profit organization for children and adults with disabilities to achieve independence and productivity through the use of adaptive computer technology.

This rest of the great old Romanesque pile of Port Deposit granite is open to non-profit groups that need to lease office space.

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