Two remnants of West Baltimore's old Mount Clare Shop complex may soon become part of a new approach to the vast B&O; Railroad Museum.
Maryland officials this fall awarded up to $1 million in transportation funds to help the museum acquire the 1866 General Office Building, a vacant, three-story building at 200 S. Arlington Ave., and the 1875 Saw Mill, a two-story building at 201 S. Arlington Ave.
Fronting Pratt Street just west of Mount Clare's landmark roundhouse, the brick and timber structures were recycled in the mid-1980s for office use by the developer of the Mount Clare Junction retail center. One is vacant and the other is partially leased. Both are now owned by Tennessee-based Fletcher Brite Co.
Part of the $1 million award will be used to help acquire a 2-acre parcel that links the Mount Clare complex to the Carrollton Viaduct and the Gwynns Falls Greenway.
The museum project is one of seven in Maryland that just received funding under the Intermodel Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.
Passed in 1991, the law provides money for projects that add cultural, aesthetic and environmental value to the transportation system. Recipients are required to match the funds with money from other sources.
"This is a huge shot in the arm for us," said managing director Shawn Cunningham. "It means we're going to be able to preserve everything that was available from the shops. Everything will be under our care."
"It will take enormous pressure off our current space," added executive director John Ott.
Known as "the birthplace of American railroading," Mount Clare has been the site of the Baltimore and Ohio's main repair and operations complex since the founding in 1827 of the railroad, which later became part of CSX Corp.
The private, nonprofit museum, which now controls about 40 acres of former railroad property, plans to use the building closest to the roundhouse to create a visitors orientation center, with classrooms, exhibit areas and a theater.
The westernmost building will be converted to offices and meeting space for the museum staff, a research library, and archives and offices for other railroad organizations. Current office space in the 1884 roundhouse annex will then be freed for more exhibits.
In conjunction with the acquisition, the museum plans to make the intersection of Pratt Street and Arlington Avenue the new main entrance to the museum complex, replacing the current entrance at Pratt and Poppleton streets.
"Arlington Avenue was the original entrance to the Mount Clare shop complex, and now it can be the entrance again" Mr. Cunningham said.
"That makes vastly more sense from a planning point of view because it will be able to accommodate many more people than the current entrance."
Mr. Cunningham said the staff hopes to proceed with the property acquisitions over the next year and improve the buildings as funds allow. In the meantime, he said, many of the current exhibits will be upgraded as part of a long-range effort to increase the number of annual visitors from 100,000 to 500,000 or more.
Maryland has become a leader in creative use of the federal funds allocated for transportation enhancement projects.
State officials have already awarded close to $18 million for nearly 100 projects and are now accepting proposals for 1995.
AIA Grand Award
The Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, designed by Ayers Saint Gross Inc., has received the Grand Award in the 1993 Design Awards Program sponsored by the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
The President's Award, given annually to a client that has consistently been an exceptional patron of architecture by local architects, went to Goucher College.
Located at Park Avenue and Franklin Street, the library is one of 11 projects singled out for recognition from among 70 entries.
Besides supporting the B&O; Railroad Museum project, Maryland officials have earmarked more than $1.1 million for the following transportation enhancement projects:
* Elkridge -- $133,000 to the Rockburn Land Trust for the purchase of a conservation easement on 60 acres owned by Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church near Patapsco State Park. The acquisition will help to protect the land from development pressures.
* Federalsburg -- $185,000 to create the Marshyhope Waterfront Hike and Bike Trail.
* Frederick -- $10,000 to landscape a "minipark" around the Jug Bridge Monument.
* Snow Hill -- $103,250 to restore an abandoned 1916 railroad station as a visitors' rest area and exhibition center, and $338,000 to convert an abandoned rail line to a hike and bike trail running 12.5 miles to the Virginia border.
* Solomons -- $319,000 to construct a boardwalk that will be a focal point for downtown and anchor for a planned bicycle path.
* Washington County -- $110,000 to restore Price's Bridge, a five-arch stone bridge on Clearfoss Pike over the Conococheaque Creek. Built in 1832, it is one of only two surviving five-arch stone bridges in Western Maryland.