Proposal to raze Martick's restaurant property in downtown Baltimore is tabled by preservation commission

Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation voted to table a request to raze the former Martick’s Restaurant Francais property in the 200 block of W. Mulberry St. in downtown Baltimore for another month until it gets more information on the proposal.

Commissioners said they wanted more time to review engineering plans and determine whether the building could benefit from adaptive reuse.

A developer, Park Avenue Partners, had requested permission to tear down the former restaurant and tavern and replace it with an apartment structure.

At Tuesday’s hearing, members of the commission were shown photos of how the circa 1850 structure had deteriorated after the death of Morris Martick, who owned and operated the business as a French-themed restaurant.

Former Martick’s staffers spoke of their memories and anguish over the possibility that the building would be torn down. “This would be a grave outcome for this building to be taken down,” said Bridget Benzing, who told the commission she had previously worked at the restaurant and had created a petition to prevent it from being razed.

James Rouse, the son of the developer of Columbia, spoke before the preservation panel: “As a private citizen who has a history with the place,” Rouse said, “This is a spot where Billie Holiday sang … and was the first place where gay people felt comfortable.”

Henry Johnson, of the Johnson-Berman interior design and architectural firm, said, “Every time you take something down that is so authentic … it will always be a scar.”

The staff of the commission had earlier prepared a history of the structure, which it described as “one of the few remaining Federal style buildings in the area that was later “modernized” with Italianate details.”

Councilman Eric T. Costello spoke in favor of the planned apartment project.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun reporter Christina Tkacik contributed to this article.

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