We all know it as the "Addams Family Mansion." Or maybe the "Munsters' Mansion." (Well, those of us old enough to remember the TV shows do, at least.)
The 1887 American Brewery (originally the Wiessner Brewery) and surrounding buildings on Gay Street in eastern Baltimore have been under renovation by developers and the city for several years now, a process prolonged by decades of severe neglect and deterioration. This afternoon, the city "celebrated" a milestone in the renovation with the completion of exterior renovations to the building. (Basically, it was a photo op for mayor Shiela Dixon and her political cronies--how else could they drop references to the recent presidential election and get a crowd chanting "Yes we can!" repeatedly?)
The iconic Brewhouse building will be occupied by Humanim, a non-profit human services agency, which expects to relocate 200 staffers to the building and hire an additional 50 locally. The renovation and restoration is incorporating a few token elements of the brewery's design and function, similar to the fashion in which the Power Plant on the Inner Harbor incorporates details such as the smokestack flues and boiler shells in the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the building. The total estimated cost of the renovation is slightly over $21 milion, being paid for with a dizzying array of tax credits, grants from foundations, city money, corporate donations, and the like. a separate bottling building, of utilitarian industrial design but somehow also on the National Register of Historic Places along with the Brewhouse, will be separately developed beginning in 2009.
There was a block party for the locals and interested folks (in the raw and cold wind today, this writer may well have been the only "outsider" present other than other media, politicians, and developer reps). Free hot dogs, popcorn (regular or caramel), and sodas (what, no beer?).