Mount Royal Station
Preserving-A Landmark For Artists
(Inscriptions below the images at the bottom)
1961-The Station’s Decline-A Neighborhood in Jeopardy
As more Americans embraced the automobile, rail travel declined sharply, and by the late 1950s, the B&O famed Royal Blue service had ceased. Reluctantly, the B&O closed the Mount Royal Station in 1961, after 65 years. Although the adjacent tracks remained busy, no trains stopped on the station’s platform, and the vacant station fell into disrepair, its windows smashed by vandals. Local concern grew over what the impending loss of such a venerable landmark and important anchor would mean for the future of the Mount Royal area.
1965-A Problem-And An Opportunity
Meanwhile, what was now Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) was quickly outgrowing its only academic facility, the Main Building. MICA’s new president Eugene “Bud” Leake, began to look at the empty station as a potential solution to
1961-1965 The Visionaries Who Made It Possible
In 1964, an agreement was reached that allowed the college to purchase the station, the nearly four acres of land on which it sits, and air rights over the tracks. The purchase price of $250,000 was far below the market value-a substantial donation on the part of the B&O. The visionaries who made this possible included (left to right,
Jane Meyerhoff (shown above with her husband, Robert Meyerhoff), co-chaired with Adrian McCardell and Paul Swett the capital campaign in support of the Mount Royal Station renovation. The project was supported entirely by the private sector. “Mount Royal Reborn” read the headline in the News American. (“Station saved for Art’s Sake” said another.)
“Now Baltimoreans will not only know what time it is, but they will also know that their lovely old station is humming with a new kind of activity as our current generation of art students learns its craft there and as the city itself is invited back inside the sturdy walls for the enjoyment of the arts.” Eugene Leake.
1965-1966 Preservation & Transformation
The renovation of the Mount Royal Station was one of the earliest examples of adaptive reuse—utilization of a structure for a purpose different from the original one through imaginative design. Architects, urban planners, and preservationists hailed MICA for its pioneering efforts to protect one of Baltimore’s favorite landmarks from demolition. Working with the architectural firm of Cochran,
The open space in the center of the former waiting room was retained as a lobby and gallery; much of the interior architectural decoration—massive marble columns, mosaic tile floor, stamped metal ceiling, ornamental plaster, and decorative ironwork—was also preserved wherever possible.
Creating a Space for Artists
On either side of the lobby, a second floor was constructed halfway up, creating space for a library, and auditorium, and a gallery. Large glass-arched walls helped retain the spacious airy feel of the original waiting room. A stairway to the new second floor was created through what had once been an exterior window.
The creation of a major galley and MICA’s library were made possible through the support of Al Decker, MICA trustee and director of the railroad, and his family, for which these spaces were named. The exterior was virtually unchanged, except for the rear waiting platform and baggage room, which were enclosed to create studio space for the Rinehart School of Sculpture and under-graduate programs.
Saving Rare Gems
The Mount Royal Station train shed is one of the country’s last remaining shed structures. Like the station itself, the train shed is a uniquely dramatic architectural space that exemplifies a now-rare type of construction and was one of the last gable-roof train sheds built in America. Nearly 500 feet long, the shed was designed to protect passengers from inclement weather.
When the clock and tower were badly damaged by a storm, repairs were financed by Jacob Blaustein H’64, and alumnus of the Maryland Institute’s drafting school. The four illuminated dials of the clock each measure 9 feet in diameter. The clock is visible throughout the surrounding area. It still has its original-mechanism, eight-day pendulum clock by E. Howard Co. of Boston, Mass., although it is now wound by and electric motor.
In restoring and developing the Mount Royal Station, MICA was in the vanguard of a nationwide movement in communities across the country to save abandoned train stations. The college’s creative approach to historic preservation led the New York Times to call the station’s conversion “the keystone of a news urban movement.” Articles featuring this pioneering effort also appeared in Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Architectural Forum, Historic Preservation, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Washington Post, and
Location. 39° 18.359′ N, 76° 37.199′ W. Marker is in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker is on Cathedral Street. Touch for map. This marker is the middle marker of the three markers that were placed side by side. Marker is in this post office area: Baltimore MD 21201, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Mount Royal Station (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Mount Royal Station (here, next to this marker); Douglas L. Frost (a few steps from this marker); The Lyric Theatre (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Maryland Line Monument (about 400 feet away); Jesse Lazear, M.D. (about 600 feet away); 29th Division Association (about 600 feet away); Mergenthaler House (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Baltimore.
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on May 17, 2017. This page originally submitted on May 16, 2017, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 94 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 16, 2017, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.