$7 million Clifton Mansion renovation project announced

A $7 million renovation project for historic Clifton Mansion kicked off Monday.

The project announcement came as Civic Works, Baltimore's nonprofit service corps celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Civic Works has been headquartered in the mansion since the nonprofit was founded in 1993.

The event was highlighted by two REACH! (a City school operated by Civic Works) students making a ceremonial "reveal" of 1813 "jib doors" which had been covered for at least fifty years. Tours of the pre-renovation Mansion followed.

Clifton Mansion has a 200-year history of service to Baltimore .  It was originally built for Baltimore War of 1812 patriot, Henry Thompson, then became the elegant Clifton Park summer home of Baltimore philanthropist Johns Hopkins from 1837-1873.  One of only a few remaining Italianate villas in the United States , Clifton Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 1895, the City of Baltimore purchased the Mansion and surrounding area for use as a park, which now includes a public golf course. 

Then in 1993, Civic Works undertook a $1 per year lease agreement with Baltimore 's Department of Recreation and Parks to occupy the Mansion and help preserve it for future generations. 

"In these difficult economic times, the city is not able to find the resources to renovate and preserve this historic treasure, so Civic Works has accepted the challenge to save the mansion by engaging the philanthropic community to preserve the legacy left by Johns Hopkins," said Civic Works President and  Executive Director Dana Stein.

"Together with the families of Henry Thompson, the original owner of Clifton Mansion who played a pivotal role in the 1814 Battle of Baltimore, and descendants of Johns Hopkins, and the City of Baltimore , Civic Works raised over $1 million between 1996 and 2008 to stop further deterioration of the mansion," Stein said. 

The renovations to Clifton Mansion will be to Gold LEED standards and include a geothermal HVAC system, use and reuse of existing and/or sustainable materials, low-flow plumbing, approved second windows over existing ones, automatic light switches, to name a few, that can be utilized in a historic building.

At Monday's announcement, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake spoke highly of the work by Civic Works and others that will be involved in the project. Among others, she specifically mentioned Stein.

"I appreciate your incredible hard work and vision," she said of Stein.

The mayor said she looks forward to the day the mansion can be restored to its glory and visitors can experience what she described as "a wonderful place to see so much that Baltimore has to offer."

"As a life-long resident of Baltimore, Clifton Mansion has always been a part of my life, part of the tapestry of the city."

Rawlings-Blake said she went to the top of the mansion to catch the view of the city several years ago. Though she was hesitant at first, she said she is glad she made the trip, making light of obvious work that needs to be done.

"You felt like any step could be your last."

PHOTOS | Historic Clifton Mansion


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