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History of Northwest Park

History of Northwest Park  (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)

The following information is from Baltimore City CHAP website

“Mt. Washington traces its origins to 1854 when two men, George Gelbach and Elias Heiner, purchased 314 acres of land near the mill village of Washingtonville. It was Gelbach's intention to establish a rural suburban retreat for Baltimore middle class professionals. Mt. Washington was only 15 minutes from downtown by train. The residents of this suburb could have both the conveniences of the city and the health and moral advantages of the country.”

“During its early years, the 1850s and into the 1860s, Mt. Washington consisted mostly of summer homes. It served as a retreat for Baltimoreans trying to escape the heat and humidity of the City. It was the intention, however, from the beginning for it to become a full-time suburb. Mt. Washington's growth slowed during the 1860s due to the Civil War and an economic recession. In the latter half of the 1860s building began again in earnest. It continued in the 1870s, often the product of developers who built small groups of houses. John Graham, a resident of Mt. Washington, is an example of such an entrepreneur. He was responsible for a great portion of what is now the South Road section of the district.”

“…Dixon's Hill, has its roots in 1855 when Thomas Dixon purchased 20 acres of land from Gelbach in order to initiate his own development. Building in Dixon's Hill also subsided during the Civil War and recession years. In the 1860s, after he had purchased a lumberyard, Dixon returned to the Hill and built a number of houses. It is quite likely that a number of the houses in Dixon's Hill are products of this noted architecture.” 

From Gilbert Sandler's piece about H.L. Mencken’s link to Mt. Washington:

Much of the following is from the architectural survey for the site at the Maryland Historical Trust as part of the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (MIHP) record found on the online database called Medusa

Medusa currently lists for the site: 

No National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) Records

No Easement Records

No Determination of Eligibility Records


Since the late 19th century Northwest Park has existed as a residence, a boys’ boarding school, the Mt. Washington Campus of the University of Baltimore, an Air Force Reserve Training Center and eventually as Northwest Park. 


A residence was constructed on an 88-acre tract between 1877 and 1896. The building does

not appear on the Hopkins 1877 Atlas of Baltimore County, Maryland. According to the Atlas, this lot was part of an 88-acre tract owned by Wallace King.  Baltimore County tax records of 1896 list the property owner as 0.E. Robinson. The house was assessed at $9,000.00 and the livestock, carriages, and furnishings were assessed a t $2,450.00. The house and two outbuildings are shown on the 1898 Bromley Atlas of Baltimore County, Maryland with 0.E. Robinson listed as the owner.  0.P. Gibson is shown as the owner of the property in the 1911 Baltimore County tax records, when it was assessed at 15,000.00, and in the 1915 Bromley Atlas. Forty-six square miles of Baltimore County, including the tract that this house stood on were annexed by Baltimore City in 1919. 


The site was known for its association from 1922 to 1952 with St. Paul' s School for Boys, a Baltimore preparatory school. In October 1922, the property was purchased by the school. The school was supported by the congregation of St. Paul' s Protestant Episcopal Church located at Charles Steet and Saratoga Street in Baltimore, Maryland. 


The school had been founded in 1849 by Dr. William Edward Wyatt, who served as rector of St. Paul' s Church from 1827 to 1864. During the 19th century the school, which was patterned after an English choir school, increased its enrollment and, starting in 1866, began to accept boarding students. 


The school began operations at the building on Rogers Avenue, its fifth location, in September 1923. The property had been purchased for $26,000 with an additional $40,000 immediately invested in renovating the house, improving the grounds, and outfitting the new school. In 1926, $20,000 was spent on enlarging the building to accommodate more students. A choir room and additional dormitory rooms were added in 1933. Further expansion to the school facilities included the construction of the gymnasium in 1938 and the acquisition of 16 additional acres of land in 1941. During the 1930s and 1940s the school expanded the curriculum, instituted an honor system, and upgraded the academic standards. The school was accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1946. 


In 1952, the property was sold, and the boys’ school moved to its present location at Brooklandwood in Baltimore County. The University of Baltimore purchased the suburban Rogers Avenue property from the boys’ school to provide athletic facilities for students enrolled at its campus in downtown Baltimore. It became known as the Mt. Washington Campus of the University of Baltimore. The gym was renovated and used along with the athletic fields. 


The main building was also renovated and, starting in 1954, loaned to the 228th Air Force Reserve Training Center. Reservists from Maryland and other states attended the center for training in radar, communications, and engineering. The Air Force occupied the building until the 1960s, and it has been vacant since that time. The University razed the main building around 1985. The gymnasium and caretaker house still exist on the site today. 

The following information is from articles from the Baltimore Sun and the Mt. Washington Improvement Association newsletter. 

In 2004, the university began discussing various developers’ requests to buy the property. The Mt. Washington Improvement Association quickly mobilized and asked university President Robert L. Bogomolny to preserve the park.


In 2007, Baltimore City, the University of Baltimore and the Mt. Washington Improvement Association (MWIA) came to an agreement that allowed the University of Baltimore property to be leased to Baltimore City and become Northwest Park.


As part of the agreement, the city paid the university $6.2 million, spread over the next five years, to lease the park for 50 years with options to add two 15-year leases for $1 per 15-year term.


The deal also allowed the university to get additional revenue through a provision that authorized the school to sell its development rights to the Wesley (now known as Springwell), which was prohibited from expanding on its adjacent 13-acre site. By obtaining the additional building rights, the Wesley would be permitted to build an addition.


From Mt. Washington Newsletter, Fall 2007:

“Several years ago, the Wesley’s [known now as Springwell] management entered into discussions with the City, the University of Baltimore (UB), and the Mt. Washington Improvement Association (MWIA) to try to find a way to remain viable. The answer came in a unique “win-win-win” arrangement for all parties. The Wesley is paying UB for the development rights for their land (the 48 acres of playing fields). UB then leased the fields to Baltimore City to become Northwest Park, which under this agreement, cannot be developed for at least the next 80 years.”

“This is a long project that will take years to reach an end. This winter [2007], the development team will ask for a Planned Unit Development (PUD), which will change the zoning of both the Wesley and the UB Fields. MWIA continues to work with City on the details of the PUD and with the State to see if we can extend protection of the fields beyond the 80-year term.”

Articles by Doug Donovan from The Baltimore Sun


City To Lease Land for Park” - September 18, 2006

Deal to Lease Land is Delayed” - September 21, 2006

In 2013 the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks (BCRP) released a master plan for Northwest Park. The Master Plan was an acknowledgement of the park’s importance to the regional community with the Phase V extension of the Jones Falls Trail from Cylburn Arboretum through the park to Rogers Avenue and, ultimately, the Mt. Washington Village. 

The master plan was completed by Mahan Rykiel, a consulting firm hired by the city to work closely with BCRP and community members to create a viable vision for the park. Throughout 2011 and 2012 the consultant team worked with BCRP and conducted a series of community meetings to ensure that the desires and concerns of residents were addressed. 

The master plan provided the city, community members, and other supporting organizations with a tool to illustrate a long-term vision for the park, protect the park from unwanted changes, and guide park enhancements over the next 15 years or more. The master plan also identified individual projects that can be implemented incrementally as funding becomes available, to ensure progress over time within the context of the greater vision for the park. 


In 2014, the City approved $2 million to construct Phase V of the Jones Falls Trail. Phase V was the last section of the JFT extending the trail from Cylburn Arboretum to Mt. Washington village and up to the intersection at Greenspring, Pimlico and Cross Country Blvd. Phase V included a bridge across Northen Parkway that allowed the trail to traverse Northwest Park and wind through a wooded area behind the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. The project was completed in Summer 2017.


Advocates Still Waiting for Extension of City's Jones Falls Trail


$2 Million Jones Falls Trail Extension Planned

In partnership with the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Mount Washington Improvement Association (MWIA), RPBL constructed a Little League baseball field at Northwest Park in 2017. Located at 2200 Enslow Road, the field includes covered dugouts, a batting cage, bullpen pitching mounds, foul poles, and a sodded infield. RPBL raised over $160,000 that enabled the project to come about. 

A Field of Dreams in Mt. Washington for Roland Park Baseball Leagues

The playground at Northwest Park was the result of efforts on the part of MWIA (Emily Shaw and Lindsey White). The playground opened in 2016. Cost for the playground was around $200,000. 

New Community Playground in Northwest Park in Mt. Washington was Two Years in the Making

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