Thriving Community-Cultural Icon
With the 1960s renovation completed, the station became a point of pride once again-for Baltimore and for MICA. It was an important factor in the college's regional accreditation and the further growth of its enrollment and reputation. The renovation also became a symbol of the positive changes underway in the Mount Royal area. Today the station is a centerpiece for Baltimore's thriving cultural district, and the cornerstone of MICA's campus.,P.
(Inscriptions under the images at the bottom) 1968-1970s-Sparking a Renaissance
In 1968, MICA hosted a conference on the future of the Mount Royal area. That event helped to fuel the development of a thriving cultural corridor. Among the Baltimore leaders attending were Walter Sondhiem, Joseph Meyerhoff, and Parren Mitchell. The renovated station inspired Joseph Meyerhoff to construct Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, a new home for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, on the site of the dilapidated Deustches Haus (the original home of Bryn Mawr School, shown above, paired with the current view)-rather than in the Inner Harbor as planned.
The Lyric Opera House decided to complete it façade. The University of Baltimore grew. The Associated Jewish Charities and Theatre Project moved into the area. The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation on Preston Street decided not to move
out-renewing its commitment to the city and saving yet another landmark building in the area. A historic railroad station once surrounded by auto dealerships, symbols of the area's declined, was now surrounded by important cultural institutions and events-and open space that enhanced the landscape. Above: the mid-1960s view of the station's environs, paired with that same view today.
A Cultural Icon
Set on a unique site in a hollow below street level in park-like surroundings, the Mount Royal Station is a natural amphitheater and gathering place. MICA began to present cultural programming there almost from the moment it acquired the site. In 1968, the Mount Royal Station was the site of the first major film festival in Maryland-focusing on experimental film, it was offered collaboratively by MICA, Goucher College, and The Johns Hopkins University-with "turnaway crowds."
When Fred Lazarus, who became MICA's president in 1978, suggested that Baltimore's new summer arts festival take place in the Mount Royal area, the idea was warmly embraced. In short order, the Mount Royal Station became the centerpiece of Artscape, which celebrated its 25th year in 2006 with record crowds in the hundreds of thousands.
Over its history, Mount Royal Station welcomed a parade of famous dignitaries to its platform. With its renovation, exhibitions and lectures
by eminent artists and world-renowned educators once again drew the public to the station. Shown, clockwise from top left: journalist and broadcaster Alistair Cooke, poet Allen Ginsberg, painter Helen Frankenthaler, architect Louis Kahn, photographer and film-maker Gordon Parks, and anthropologist Margaret Mead. Among the others who visited the station were: Romare Bearden, John Cage, Alex Katz, Robert Motherwell, Fairfield Porter, David Smith, and Clyfford Still.
When distinguished anthropologist, Margaret Mead, spoke to MICA IN 1965, the B&O juggled its schedule of trains through the tunnel so that no trains ran during her one and a half-hour talk. Mead observed at that event that the Mount Royal Station renovation was "perhaps the most magnificent example in the Western World of something being made into something else."
1970s & Beyond-Anchor for an Innovative Campus
As MICA has evolved into one of the nation's top colleges of art and design, the station, and its role in MICA's campus, has also changed initially, it was the center of campus life, housing the library, public gallery, cafeteria, and auditorium, as well as studios for sculptural studies. During these early years, the Mount Royal Station was MICA's most public building, the window that opened into the community.
For many years, annual commencement exercises were held in
front of the station. Since the early 1990s, MICA students have lined up here each May for the procession to exercises in Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Left, President Fred Lazarus with the late Tom Miller '87, when he received the College's 1997 Alumni Award.
As MICA has grown and its campus had evolved, the station has come to be the college's center of three-dimensional art, housing the departments of sculpture and fiber, as well as Rinehart School of Sculpture. The 2005-2007 renovation expanded studio space for these disciplines and spaces for public programming and major exhibitions moved to the new center of campus-the Brown Center for Building.
Today the station anchors the southern edge of a growing campus that includes the historic 1904 Main Building (also listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and Brown Center (the college's first newly constructed academic facility in nearly 100 years). MICA also has continued the tradition of adaptive re-use of historic structures, carving out an eclectic campus within its historic neighborhood. Several of these projects have had an impact on MICA's community similar to that of the station renovation. For example, the transformation of a former sewing factory on North Avenue into artists' studios served as an important anchor for Baltimore's Station North Arts & Entertainment District. The renovation of a former
hospital in the heart of Bolton Hill became Robert and Jane Meyerhoff House.
Designated as an Official Project of Save-America's Treasurers, the Mount Royal Station will remain a cherished treasure. The 2005-2007 renovation featured the movement of the building's main entrance to the north end of the structure, opening onto Frost Plasa where you now stand; a major cleaning for the exterior and new exterior lighting to bring fresh attention to this historic building; as wall as restoration of the tower clock and train shed.