Bolton Hill transformation


TRULY wonderful tidings for Bolton Hill: The Maryland Institute, College of Art is buying a long-vacant Lafayette Street nursing home and will convert it into a residence hall.

This news is cause for celebration throughout Baltimore's historic neighborhoods because Bolton Hill's growing popularity will eventually strengthen other preservation areas as well.

Some of Bolton Hill's restored 19th-century townhouses have fetched such high prices recently that it is easy to forget the neighborhood was in danger of becoming a slum after World War II.

Later, the 1964 acquisition of Mount Royal Station by the Maryland Institute, which at the time was a smallish regional art school, encouraged new homeowners to invest in the area.

In recent years, as residential restoration continued, Maryland Institute's presence helped rejuvenate the area and improve pedestrian safety.

The $12 million reconstruction of the former Women's Hospital promises a similar effect.

Bolton Hill still has its rough spots. But overall, the area has not been this solid since World War II. This strength -- and the success of the Spicer's Run townhouses at Eutaw Street and North Avenue -- should persuade the city to take a gamble on nearby Reservoir Hill as well.

That neighborhood, which sits between Druid Hill Park and North Avenue, is a natural extension of Bolton Hill.

With ample potential for new construction and renovation, it should become a focal point of city efforts to attract more middle-class homeowners.

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