Brexton Renaissance

2001.1.29:  Things were very quiet for Brexton Renaissance in 2000; with the acquisition by Zumot, and their apparent (but slow) progress, I've been left with very little to do but field the occasional offer of help or support. I've also been quite busy through 2000 on other projects (this won't surprise many of you), but over the next few weeks, I hope to be able to sit down with the accumulated paper (now filling two crates) and prepare a year-end summary of some sort.

I'm also starting a quest for various online services to handle things like donations and support more of a "community" (message boards, email, etc.) for the volunteers and supporters of the Brexton. I haven't had time to evaluate them, so if any of you have opinions or recommendations, I'd be delighted to learn more.

2001.1.1:  New Address: Brexton Renaissance c/o Roger Wood, PO Box 5534, Laurel, MD 20726-5534.

2000.2.15:  As you might imagine, things have been relatively slow since the auction last November; and Brexton Renaissance has been left with its "watch dog" role. Finally, there's some real news to report.

First I'd like to take a moment to thank some of the people who have made significant contributions recently.

Carol Kokola, for her work scanning images of the Brexton and her continued support.

Bonnie Curtin, for her generous donation and continued support. Also, her watchful eyes in the neighborhood.

Duncan Stuart, for hosting a small gathering of Brexton supporters in January.

2000.2.15:  I'd also like to remind everyone on the list that donations are always welcomed; but apparently the post office neglected to update its records and at least one piece of mail was returned. If you've sent [paper] mail recently, please re-send it if it came back. The proper address is: PO BOX 5208, Laurel, MD 20726

2000.2.15:  I can also announce that there is some movement from Zumot. They have hired a local Baltimore architect to perform a feasibility study on a development concept. I have offered the resources of Brexton Renaissance in this work; my only request is that it "be done right."

2000.2.15:  There is no evidence of physical work done on the building at this time.

2000.1.12:  Duncan Stuart has opened his house on Tyson Street to the Brexton supporters. On January 15th, 2000 at 7pm, you are invited to come, socialize and meet the other participants in this Brexton Adventure. Duncan lives at 910 Tyson Street (immediately behind the Brexton. If you would like to bring something to this event, please coordinate with Duncan at:

12/18/1999:  It is the end of the year; don't miss your opportunity to make a tax-deductable donation to Brexton Renaissance.

12/18/1999:  An art project related to the Brexton will be on display at the UMBC Fine Arts Building, First Floor on Monday, December 20th, from 1 to 3pm. The project by Laura Duncan, i encourage all of you to make the effort to see it.

12/18/1999:  Duncan Stuart has opened his house on Tyson Street to the Brexton supporters. On January 15th, 2000 at 7pm, you are invited to come, socialize and meet the other participants in this Brexton Adventure. Duncan lives at 910 Tyson Street (immediately behind the Brexton. If you would like to bring something to this event, please coordinate with Duncan at:

I look forward to seeing many of you there!

12/18/1999:  I am in search of a parallel-port-based camera for a Brexton-related project. If any of you have such a camera that you are not using, please consider donating it to Brexton Renaissance.

12/18/1999:  Carol Kokola has graciously volunteered to scan some of the existing photographs in the Brexton archives. Thank you.

12/18/1999:  Still no word on the plans from Zumot Real Estate, and I haven't seen any activity at the building. Winter is upon is, let's hope it's not a wet one.

12/06/1999:  Sorry for the rapid updates here, but, I missed someone in the last update who's done some very significant work, and there's a change at the web you need to know.

12/06/1999:  In the list of student projects related to the Brexton, I neglected one David Kidd, who has done some amazing work over the past couple years. He has prepared a complete National Register nomination for the Brexton (which may soon be submitted to the Park Service), and a catalog of Charles Cassell's works. My apologies for neglecting this in the previous update.

12/06/1999:  The Photographs page on the Brexton web was completely clobbered overnight (as several of you presumably discovered). I've asked (once again) for increased resource allocation from the service provider, and uploaded the "good" pages once again. Sorry if you got caught without pictures; they are very important to the work on the Brexton.

12/06/1999:  Someone has suggested a year-end gathering of Brexton fans. I'd like your comments on this idea, and suggestions for when and where.

12/05/1999:  I've just started the year-end closeout for Brexton Renaissance, and there are several items to bring up.... as you might imagine, since i've been going through reciepts and such, money is high on the list:

12/05/1999:  DONATIONS! Yes, you. If you (or any friends or relatives) needs a tax deduction for 1999, I have a great suggestion. Brexton Renaissance is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization (EIN: 52-2070521) and a Registered Maryland Charity (Reg #8406). Please send donations, payable to Brexton Renaissance, to PO Box 5208, Laurel, MD 20707-3226.

12/05/1999:  Brexton Renaissance needs a treasurer. I'd prefer someone from the neighborhood; this isn't a very intense job, but I'd like someone close to the building that I can trust to handle money in case I'm indesposed and something happens.

12/05/1999:  Web updates: I've added pictures of the Brexton from 1997 (when I first got involved), and schematic floor plans and a map of the immediate area. Also, a scan of the 1881 announcement from the Baltimore Sun. As always, I appreciate any comments or suggestions, particularly since the site was re-designed. Go here:

12/05/1999:  Speaking of the web....I'd like a couple volunteers to help tackle getting the paper data and old photographs into HTML for presentation on the web. I've been quite overwhelmed, and can't seem to catch up and get everything up-to-current. If anyone has a decent scanner and the time to go through the photos, please let me know.

12/05/1999:  Several students completed projects related to the Brexton in 1999, I'd like to thank them for their interest, and hope they got good grades. So, special thanks to Laura Duncan, Gina Snyder and Carol Kokola for their work this year. If anyone else has done a project related to the Brexton, please let me know (and consider sending me a copy of your work!)

12/05/1999:  A wonderful holiday season to all of you....

11/25/1999:  Happy Thanksgiving!

11/25/1999:  With this message, i am inaugurating a new, subscribable, mail distribution system for Brexton-related announcements. You can subscribe (or unsubscribe) by sending mail to This distribution mechanism should relieve me of some of the administrative burden, and provide enhanced privacy for list members (the complete list of addresses is only available at the server and no longer included in distributed mail.)

Messages to the list should be addressed to (note the "l"!).

11/25/1999:  The "Help Us" section has been updated to include donation information, and many pictures of the Auction (1999.11.17) are now available on the web page at

11/25/1999:  Thanks, as always, for your continued support. Particularly on this day.

11/19/1999:  Brexton Sold!

Surprisingly enough, there was one bidder at the auction on November 17th. Rajai Zumot of Zumot Real Estate Management in McLean, Virginia, bid $100,000. After some dispute over the bidding process with the former owner (Michael Kokolakis), a deposit was endorsed and papers signed making Rajai Zumot the new owner.

I have not had a chance to delve into his plans, but the brief comments made at the auction indicate a $1 million renovation to market-rate residential units.

As is customary, I offered the support and resources of Brexton Renaissance in his work, we'll see what happens.

Unfortunately, I don't have much background to offer; since Zumot is based in Virginia, it's a whole new search for data.

I should also note that several mantles were, in fact removed, as was the oculus. I have many pictures that will appear on the new brexton web site at in the near future.

11/16/1999:  Brexton Renaissance has a new web site: Your comments always welcome.

11/16/1999:  Item the second: The Brexton is going to auction tomorrow (1999.11.17), 3pm, at 868 Park Avenue (the Brexton). Please attend if possible.

11/04/1999:  Several of you have asked for details regarding the upcoming auction of the Brexton. And, thanks to Heather Mason, I have a corrected link for the web auction.

There is some confusion about the "Absolute Auction" advertised in the Sun November 1st, and the $150,000 minimum bid on the web site. There's also a conflict between the $10,000 deposit on signing in the paper and $25,000 from the web site. I don't have the answer to that yet. I should note that the $150,000 minimum bid is precisely the last sale price for the Brexton (this past spring). Please note, if you bid, there is a 10% buyers premium (Your $150,000 bid is really $165,000.)

I've also had a few people express interest in, or suggest forming a group to bid on the Brexton; no such group exists now, if you'd be interested in participating in one, please let me know ASAP and i'll put you together.

If any of you contact these people, I'd be very interested in your experiences. As always, your comments, feedback, and suggestions are quite welcome.


Auction Site:

Current Owner:

One of the partners:
(you may notice a link from WMS Mortgage to Express Auction Marketing Specialists, "friends", and from there to Real Estate Cyber Auctions). The "Investor Opportunities" page has been removed, but here's a clip from the page before it was removed (reformatted):

"WMS Inc. is associated with a developer known as Dakota Trade Associates which has access to one of the largest real estate portfolios in the country. Most of these properties are rentals, some with Section 8 tenants (government subsidized) at full market rent. The waiting line for Section 8 tenancy is immense.

Four times a year, Dakota Trade Associates offer these properties for sale at 70-75% of their value. An appraisal is done and supported with a review appraisal and rent schedule.

This is a great opportunity to start your own real estate portfolio with a positive cash flow from the very beginning. The big bonus is that Dakota Trade Associates will even manage your portfolio for you if you choose. A property management agreement is available upon request.

With over 70 years combined experience in building and development, Dakota Trade Assocates offers a variety of investment opportunities:

Wholesale properties at 70-80% of the value. 95% investor financing available for A and B credit rating. Seller splits closing costs with buyer. 90% investor financing available for B and C credit rating. Seller splits closing costs with buyer. High-yield first and second trusts Estate and water-front properties

Once you experience this opportunity, you probably won't tell your friends.$$$"

Auction Company:

This company was formed just last month.

Last Sale:

Public record of last sale price $150,000.

11/01/1999:  News Flash! Brexton on the Auction Block.

Baltimore Sun, November 1, 1999, page 14B, C3:
Absolute Auction
25 Unit Apartment Building
Brexton Apartments
868 Park Ave Balto, MD 21202

Wednesday, Nov 17 at 3pm.

Circa 1891 Brick Building - 6 Floors -
16,300 sq ft, One Bedroom & Efficiency Apartments
Commercial / Space
Ready for Renovation

Terms: Deposit of $10,000 upon signing contract, 10%BP. For full terms see website or fax on demand 410.366.8820.

Express Auction Marketing Specialists
Larry Makowski, Auctioneer

Bid Online at

(Thanks to Gina Snyder for catching this amazing bit)

11/01/1999:  Ok, so is non-functional (what should I expect?), hosted by

11/01/1999:  I find some tinge of coincidence that the next chapter in the Brexton saga should open in November. Following the Nov 22, 1881 announcement in the Sun, and my own involvement around November 1997...

11/01/1999:  I've also been informed that a condemnation notice appeared on the Brexton in the past several weeks. (Thanks to Duncan Stewart on this item).

11/01/1999:  I should point out that Brexton Renaissance doesn't have much of a war chest with which to bid on the Brexton. On the other hand, if any of you (or a group of you), happen to purchase the Brexton, Brexton Renaissance is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and is happy to accept your donation.

There is a gap in the email announcements from 1999.5.30 to 1999.11.1; reflecting a change in email servers and distribution mechanism. I hope to have it filled in eventually.
5/30/1999:  New meeting date:  Saturday, June 5, 2pm at the City Cafe.

5/30/1999:  I've received much feedback and comment on the amicus curiae proposal, and was assembling a big statement addressing the issues mentioned so far, when I got another interesting peice of news yesterday. Unfortunately, this means we have to re-organize everything again (see below).

5/30/1999:  Larry Teitel did indeed sell the Brexton.  The transfer was April 5th, and the deed recorded May 17th.  The new owner is known as 868 Park Avenue, LLC, principals Michael Kokolakis and William Swisher. Larry Teitel took back a mortgage on the property.  I have yet to discover the sale price.

5/30/1999:  The plaintiff's attorney intends to dismiss the case scheduled for June 8th, on the basis that they cannot add defendants to the case. She intends to have field inspectors issue another notice, and if no work is begun within 30 days, file a new case against Kokolakis, Swisher and Teitel.

5/30/1999:  It was a pleasure seeing several of you at the presentation of the Midtown Plan.

5/30/1999:  My apologies for the typo in the last update:  it's an amicus curiae brief - thanks to Malcolm Mason for pointing out the extra "R".

5/30/1999:  Looking for update and revision of the Brexton Renaissance Web Site; it's painfully out-of-date, and needs a completel overhaul.

5/30/1999:  Looking for student projects - If you've done work on the Brexton, I'd like a copy of your work for the "brexton archives" - please get in touch with me.

5/30/1999:  Thanks for the continued support, particularly Evan Wilson, Bonnie Curtin, and Duncan Stuart.

5/30/1999:  Have a great weekend!

5/24/1999:  My apologies to those of you I missed on the 22nd; traffic around the stadiums delayed me until about 2:20.  Of the people I did manage to meet, thanks for your input and comments.

5/24/1999:  I am seriously exploring the idea of filing an amicurs curiae brief in the pending civil case; I invite your comments on that idea, suggestions on its content, and any "interested parties" are welcome to join in the filing.  If you represent a group or are an individual with a vested interest in the project, and want to lend your name, please let me know as soon as possible.

5/24/1999:  Court is scheduled for June 8th.  More details to follow.

5/24/1999:  Peter Kurtze has uncovered the business card of one Charles Cassell; I hope to make an image available on the web soon.

5/24/1999:  Erin Doherty has uncovered information on the Cassell Family Plot at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Portsmouth.

5/24/1999:  There are no apparent physical changes to the building as of Saturday, May 22nd.

5/18/1999:  I'd like to meet with any of you on May 22th; 2pm at the Al Pacino Cafe (corner of Read and Cathedral).  Given recent events, I'd like to get as much feedback and dialogue as possible.

5/18/1999:  Representatives from Dakota Trade Associates have NOT been in contact with me.

5/18/1999:  Court is scheduled for June 8th.  More details to follow.

5/18/1999:  The Brexton made the city paper May 5, 1999, page 13 "Hotel Hopes."  I hope to have a copy of the article available for you all shortly. Apparently this article was not available on the City Paper's web site.

5/18/1999:  As you are probably aware, I have some misgivings about the change of ownership and development plans.  But, since I have not yet spoken with anyone from Dakota Trade Associates, I will refrain from broad speculation in this forum.  High among my concerns are the apparent fact that Dakota managed to put a contract on the Brexton without finding out about Brexton Renaissance, and that they were unaware of applicable historic rehab tax credits.

5/18/1999:  Please report any activity or work around or in the Brexton.

4/29/1999:  Court Update:  On April 27, 1999, I attended court to participate in the case of the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore vs. Larry Teitel and Skipjack Realty.  Ann Refolo is the plaintiff's attorney, the defendants did not appear.  A new court date of June 8th was ordered by Judge Doory.

4/29/1999:  Thanks to Kathleen Kotarba, David McPhereson, Elise Butler, Al Povey, and Brennen Jensen for their morning court appearance and continued support for the Brexton.

4/29/1999:  I understand that Dakota Trade Associates (20 E. Read St) has a contract on the Brexton.  Given this  development, I ask all of the Brexton Renaissance supporters to keep a sharp eye on the building and let me know of any changes or activity.  The key person seems to be one Michael Kokolakis.  Dakota Trade Associates is affiliated with WMS, Inc., a mortgage broker in Bowie, MD.  The principal player at WMS is one William Swisher.  From what I understand, they plan to renovate the Brexton into dorms for students, presumably at the University of Baltimore.  None of these parties knew of Brexton Renaissance prior to signing a contract; and I have not been contacted by them to date.  If you want further information on these companies or inviduals, please contact me.

4/29/1999:  The locks have changed.

4/29/1999:  I have posted several images of the Brexton for your review (no web site, just a directory):

4/29/1999:  Special thanks to Evan Wilson, Charlie Duff and Elise Butler for their advice and help recently.

4/29/1999:  Administrative note:  please change your contact email addresses for me (personally) to

4/8/1999:  As many of you have noticed, and some have commented, things are getting a little hairy and strange here at Brexton Renaissance HQ.  My apologies for the long delay getting this update out.

4/8/1999:  The State's Attorney General is pursuing a Demolition by Neglect civil suit against the owner.  Court date is now April 27, 1999, 8:30/9am, at 501 East Fayette St, Courtroom 5.  You are encouraged to attend.  Check the docket to make sure things don't change.

4/8/1999:  The building is under contract, as of 4/1/1999.  The development concept is to retain existing interior walls and market to students with a dorm-style restoration finished by Fall and completed without using historic tax credits.  I hope to meet with the new owners in the very near future and offer the Brexton Renaissance combination of support-if-they-do-it-right and advocacy for the historic and architectural integrity of the Brexton.  More on this as I learn....

4/8/1999:  As might be expected, with the appearance of a developer, Brexton Renaissance switches to "Plan B" - which is to say strong advocacy and watchdog for the Brexton.  I will continue to develop the educational components of the project, but any development work is on hold. is still running, in a much-diminished capacity.  Still not sure what the future will bring.

4/8/1999:  We have two students now pursuing "highest and best use" studies for the Brexton, and they have my full support for their work.  I did give out some of your phone numbers and email addresses to help them; please offer whatever information you can.  Best luck to Gina Snyder and James Riggs.

4/8/1999:  Recognition and thanks to Evan Wilson and Ann Stacy for their advice and help recently.

4/8/1999:  Administrative note:  please change your contact email addresses for me (personally) to

3/11/1999:  Special thanks to Michael and Dani Duniho for their donation.

3/11/1999:  Special thanks to Alan Bowman for digitizing the Brexton plans for the first and second through fourth floors.  I have copies of these files in Windows Metafile format (.wmf) if anyone is interested in the layout of the building.

3/11/1999:  The West Side Plan, which affects an area just south of the Brexton, is capturing much attention and energy from the historic preservation community.  Briefly, the Plan affects an area of downtown Baltimore that is a National Regsister-eligible historic district, and may lead to the demolition of as many as 150 significant historic structures.  I encourage you all to get involved in this process.  The City Council is holding a hearing on Bill 98-898 next week.  For more information,
please contact Baltimore Heritage (410.396.3561) and Preservation Maryland (410.685.2886), which have jointly prepared a response.

3/11/1999:  In conjunction with the Committee for Historic and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), we recently documented approximately one years' deterioration in the Brexton.  This information, and supporting documentation is now with the State's Attorney General for review and may result in a "Demolition by Neglect" case against the current owner.

3/11/1999:  More student projects are coming together - at least one more is interested in assembling an National Register nomination for the Brexton.  As always, I encourage all academic pursuits related to the Brexton, and would love to keep the results of your work in the "Brexton Archives" when you're finished.

3/11/1999:  Web Stuff!  We may finally have an amazing web-site developer to work on the Brexton Web Presence and make our stuff presentable.

3/11/1999:  One of the two "hot" commercial developers has "dropped off the radar screen" - no word on why.

3/11/1999:  The other major commercial developer has prepared a budget and is still pursuing development plans.  I still have my reservations about the ability of the Brexton to return a profit as a commercial development, so for now I'm supporting this plan without counting on it.

3/11/1999:  Spring tour postponed.  It's unfortunately just not practical to organize and conduct the Cassell Tour this spring.  We'll be back later with a real event.  Volunteers are still needed!

3/11/1999:  Positive real estate developments in the neighborhood - several of the houses near the Brexton are actually selling this year.  I wouldn't call this a "trend", but at least some people are willing to move into the area without letting houses sit on the market for over a year.

3/11/1999:  Research continues... I expect to spend some time in the Library of Congress and the library of the Maryland Historical Trust in the near future.  You are, of course, invited.  Let me know if I can accomodate your schedule.

3/11/1999:  Next Midtown Plan Redevelopment Committee Meeting:  March 17, 7pm at Midtown (1221 N. Calvert St).

3/11/1999:  My apologies for leaving everyone hanging so long between updates - lots of things brewing very slowly so far this year.

2/22/1999:  Special thanks to Duncan Stewart for his contribution to Brexton Renaissance.  Please keep those donations coming in!  It would be nice to buy a building this year.

2/22/1999:  Correction to the last update; it was issued on January 31st, not January 26th as stated in the text.

2/22/1999:  Delays delays delays.  My apologies to everyone for the past several weeks' absence; I've been buried under garbage from the accident, out-of-town and trying to track down the appropriate tax forms for Brexton Renaissance and get some answers in that department.  I'm still not mobile (ie, no car), but some things can't wait any longer.

2/22/1999:  Midtown Plan Meeting:  March 1, 7:00pm at 1221 N. Calvert.

2/22/1999:  Brexton-related news and rumors:  I don't have the complete stories, but there are now two developers looking at the project and trying to be serious, and the Brexton is now high on the attention list at the CHAP office.

1/31/1999:  RUMOR CONTROL:  Roger Wood is _NOT_ dead, in the hospital, or otherwise physically incapacitated.  While I appreciate the phone calls checking on my general health, the real story is this:  I was, in fact, in a fairly major (4-vehicle) accident on I-95 last week, and my car is done. I, on the other hand, am going to live.  Thanks again for your concern, and while more a personal rumor than a Brexton rumor, we do have a lot in common these days.  The real effect on the Brexton project is that I am less mobile and have to postpone several things to address more immediate personal issues (like finding a new car).

1/31/1999:  Restoration and Renovation Conference:  I did attend, it was interesting, and met a few people who may eventually prove valuable to the project, but overall it wasn't what I had hoped.  In particular I was disapointed in the accessibility and historic preservation session, which provided a laundry list of problems people have run into, but not many answers.  The gist of it:  ADA is vague enough and historic preservation statues are vague enough, that no matter what you do, you are not guaranteed good legal standing.

1/31/1999:  Brexton Education Summit (sounds impressive, eh?) I'd like to meet with several professors/teachers and students, to conceive and coordinate student projects for the spring semester.

1/31/1999:  At Evan Wilson's suggestion (and Evan continually deserves special recognition for his efforts on behalf of the Brexton), I'd like to meet with all of you that have experience in development projects and historic preservation to debate the costs, requirements and best practices related to saving the Brexton.  Since your time is valuable; I'd like to do this at your convenience.  Some of you have not seen the current conditions in the Brexton, please let me know and I'll try to
accomodate your schedule.

1/31/1999:  I apologize for the delay getting the 1998 summary packages out to the latest addresses; I expect them in the mail early in February.  Lots of things happening this month.

1/20/1999:  Donations!  Yes, it's true, the donations are coming in.  Special Recognition to Ted Rouse of Streuver Brothers, Eccles and Rouse for being the first.  Thanks also to Erin Doherty-Lucas and Cheryl Bower for their contributions.

1/20/1999:  An additional 20 "1998 Summary Packages" were mailed on December 10th, if you are on the EMail mailing list and DID NOT get a paper package from me in the past few weeks, I don't have your correct mailing address.

1/20/1999:  Brexton Education Summit (sounds impressive, eh?) I'd like to meet with several professors/teachers and students during the first week of February to conceive and coordinate student projects for the spring semester.  If you are a student, teacher or just interested, please let me know ASAP.  This had to be postponed for the Restoration and Renovation Conference in DC during the last week in January (see below).

1/20/1999:  Restoration and Renovation Conference in DC January 28-30 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.  I have cupons to get people into the exhibits free, if you are interested in attending, please let me know.

1/20/1999:   Midtown "Stimulating Good Redevelopment" committee meeting, Jan 26th, 7:00pm at 1221 N. Calvert St.

1/7/1999:  Walkthrough scheduled for January 12, 2:30pm.  Anyone who hasn't seen the inside of the Brexton is encouraged to attend; bring warm clothes and don't be afraid of the pigeons.

1/7/1999:  120 "1998 Summary Packages" went out on Dec 31st; another dozen or so more will hit the mail in the next couple days.  I'm still missing a few mailing addresses.  If you don't see a package in the next week or so and want one, please let me know.

1/7/1999:  Special thanks to Beverly Bauhof for suffering through envelopes and stamps.

1/7/1999:  Special thanks to Alan Bowman; he's tackled AutoCAD on our behalf.

1/7/1999:  Brexton Education Summit (sounds impressive, eh?) I'd like to meet with several professors/teachers and students sometime this month to conceive and coordinate student projects for the spring semester.  If you are a student, teacher or just interested, please let me know ASAP.

1/7/1999:  Midtown "Stimulating Good Redevelopment" committee meeting, Jan 13th, 7:30pm at 1221 N. Calvert St.

1/7/1999:  A meeting about the West Side Plan (you've seen my first impressions on this issue) is Jan 14th at 24 W. Saratoga.

12/31/1998:  Watch your mailboxes; i have a year-in-review package coming to all of you in the next couple days.

12/31/1998:  The 1999 Restoration and Renovation expo is coming to Washington, DC  January 28-30th.  Pre-registration deadline is January 5th.  For  information, call 800.982.6247.  If anyone plans to attend, let me know, I have a couple discount cupons.

12/31/1998:  Have a grand 1999!

12/24/1998:  I hope everyone's had/is having a wonderful holiday season; my best wishes to each of you.

12/24/1998:  For everyone that missed it (myself included <G>), Brexton Renaissance made "The Nose" column in the City Paper, Dec 16, page 18.

12/24/1998:  I'd like to hear [read] your opinions on the first year of Brexton Renaissance, both good and bad.  Please send your comments, criticisms, suggestions and ideas.

12/24/1998:  Response to my comments on the West Side Plan have been particularly interesting and much more numerous than i expected.  Hopefully sometime soon, i'll get my hands on the plan and i can offer more commentary - this is obviously an issue important to the people involved with Brexton Renaissance.  Unfortunately, I can't afford to dedicate too much time to
tracking this developing situation, so I don't want to get sucked too far into it.

12/24/1998:  Year-End Reminders:
     -  Baltimore History Conference in September.  Proposals due 1/15/98.
     -  MD Preservation Awards Nominations due 1/15/98.
     -  Nominations for Board Members - ASAP.
     -  Brexton Renaissance Incorporation Anniversary 1/9/1999, 12:35pm.

12/24/1998:  Important things to do (pick one!)
     -  Building histories and descriptions for the Walking Tour.
     -  Grantwriting.
     -  Fundraising/donor development.
     -  Web Site Development.

12/13/1998:  This is a big update message, i apologize in advance.  Most of this is on the relationship between the city and development projects and not exclusively Brexton-oriented.

12/13/1998:  Watch your City Paper this week for news of the Brexton.

12/13/1998:  I met with an historic preservation architect in DC this past week, and, in true Brexton fashion, they love the building.  Also in true Brexton fashion, no quick solutions were found.

12/13/1998:  The Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center is moving to 847 N Howard Street in the spring, adding more culture to the Brexton 'hood.  This is a great neighbor; I'd like to meet with them soon.

12/13/1998:  The Baltimore Life site, at 901 N. Howard street is heading for a new life as a combination of 130 apartments, 60,000 sq ft of office and 20,000 sq ft of retail space.  Now that seems to me like a lot of things to happen on that lot, and I am not witness to the plans.  But, this is the kind of lot where i think demolition is a good answer, and the combination they're pushing seems healthy and reasonable on the surface.  The existing building is a fairly low-profile concrete thing with thin, vertical windows.  The state owns the building now, and is giving it to A&R Development.  Chalk one property off the governments books, and cross your fingers.  This could be a good one, and it's right on top of the Brexton.

12/13/1998:  The Baltimore City Life Museums are for sale.  If you want to get into some very interesting buildings, this is a good opportunity.  Think of a brilliant plan for the Shot Tower, the Carroll Mansion, the 1840 House, Brewer's Park or the Blaustein Exhibition Center, and get to work now.  Proposals are due February 5, 1999.

12/13/1998:  The Abell Foundation has dipped into a very interesting concept for urban redevelopment around Patterson Park.  The Foundation is guaranteeing property values will not decrease as an incentive to stabilize the neighborhood.

12/13/1998:  Hansa House, at Charles and Redwood will be renovated by its new owners, First Maryland Bancorp.  One of the more distictive buildings in the city, you can't miss this one.

12/13/1998:  The Baltimore City Council moved to condemn major pieces of an 18-block area around Howard Street and the Hippodrome (12 N Eutaw) as part of a $350 Million redevelopment plan by the Weinberg Foundation.  Look for street-level retail and some 2600 upscale-ish apartments.  First on the condemnation list:  The block between Howard/Eutaw and Fayette/Baltimore
and the area bordered by Clay/Fayette and Liberty/Howard streets.

12/13/1998:  [ Commentary Mode ON ]
I have not seen the plan myself, just keeping an eye on the news.  Once the place to shop in Baltimore this area was killed by Suburbia and the Mall.  Given its past, it's not surprising that this area has some great buildings and is one of the most visible crappy parts of town. Baltimore Heritage has been fighting on behalf of the more significant historic buildings since wind of this plan started blowing.

This is disturbing on several levels for me.  It's a major commitment by the city to move the direction of demolition and new construction versus taking advantage of the existing structures that make Baltimore special. I consider that generally unhealthy, and bad economics.  Reality-check here:  You can't afford to make Baltimore into suburbia, but you can play Baltimore's strengths against suburbia's weaknesses.

I think that to revitalize any area, you need a long-term plan and commitment.  The city had a plan at one time, known as the Avenue of the Arts.  The signs are still there, but the commitment is not.  It has to be more expensive to force an area to be attractive than it is to encourage people and businesses to redevelop an area "organically."  It should be quite interesting convincing upscale people to move into this neighborhood.  I'd love to see how much of that $350M is allocated to promotion; I think it would be a very telling statistic.  In any case, to support that many apartments, you better make this area THE place to live in Baltimore metro, and there's a lot of competition in that field. The organic approach works in other cities, given the right basic support structures from the city.

While I promote historic preservation, particularly when acting as Brexton Renaissance EO, I am not afraid to say that some things should be demolished and started from scratch.  Several of the buildings here are well beyond saving, but wholesale condemnation is not the most cost-effective or desirable plan.  I think the city was on to something with the Avenue of the Arts; I'd like to know what went wrong, and why it works elsewhere but not in Baltimore.  My guess is that the City of Baltimore has some "commitment issues."  If the city is as committed to the Weinberg plan as they were to the Avenue of the Arts, don't expect to see much happen once the lots are cleared.  As far as I can tell, not much happened after the "Avenue of the Arts" signs were installed.  It could be interesting seeing an Avenue of the Arts street sign adjacent to a vacant lot thought - there's some food for ironic artists somewhere in there.

I recently walked this neighborhood, at night, and i think it's a lot more "fixable" than the Weinberg plan would suggest.  Were Brexton
Renaissance a billion-dollar organization like Weinberg, i'd put together a plan and offer it as an alternative.  Unfortunately, that
takes time and money, and I've already got my plate full (unless someone's buying, of course).

Second, and perhaps more importantly, since this plan involves condemning major pieces of this area, once it's started, there won't be
any infrastructure to fall back on.  If Weinberg gets cold feet, or the projections aren't met, or something else goes wrong, we could be left with a vacant urban wasteland.  That is, except the Hippodrome, because the state's already into that project with big dollars ($1.7 Million on a feasibility study).  Then again, the new Hippodrome will need lots of parking [pun intended].

Third, it's interesting to note that the Foundation will end up owning much of this property.  So that's how you get to be a billion-dollar
non-profit <G>.

If you have anything to say about this, talk to your city councilperson and the Intergovernmental and Urban Affairs Committee, the Baltimore Department of Planning, Baltimore Development Corporation and if you can find them, the Weinberg Foundation.  And while you're at it, talk to the Sun and the City Paper.  I may send copies of this tirade to them too.

12/7/1998:  Revised the "Old News" block - you may want to read it again.  Lots of things happening lately; i apologize for the high volume and delays.

12/7/1998:  The next major hurdle for Brexton Renaissance is to gain site control and get the current absentee owner out of the development equation.  This step means we have to raise enough money to buy and stabilize the building.  Converting to a membership organization seems like the best option so far (we are not so chartered), but that involves significantly
more overhead.  If you have any expertise or interest in fundraising, please get in touch with me as soon as possible.

12/7/1998:  AAF declined our application for a $2000 grant to defer the cost of printed materials for the Cassell in Mount Vernon tour, citing concerns that the public would primarily be recieving information rather than actively participating in the tour.

12/7/1998:  Call for Proposals:  A conference focusing on new and innvoative research on Baltimore's history, archaeology and efforts at preservation, September 24-25, 1999.  Brexton-related topics that "are particularly encouraged:"  Building and Rebuilding Baltimore, Economics of Redevelopment, Development of Nonprofit Groups and Institutions, shaping culture and arts.  Anyone want to co-author or present a paper on the Brexton Renaissance experience?  1-3 page draft proposals are due Jan 15th.  Individuals and panels are welcome.

12/7/1998:  Nominations for the 1999 Maryland Preservation Awards are due by Jan 15th.  If you know of worthy individuals or organizations, these are awards for historic preservation, cultural conservation, architecture, archaeology, museums, education and related fields.  Contact Nicole Diehlmann at the Maryland Historical Trust (410.514.7625) for more info.

12/7/1998:  Met with Barry Kaminetz of the Midtown Benefits District.  He offered their broad support, including mobilizing volunteers and site cleanup.

12/7/1998:  Richard Donovan has offered to start work on the oral histories related to the Brexton.  He knew several residents when it was last occupied.

12/7/1998:  The house at 914 Tyson sold as did the house at 830 Tyson.  There are actually [a] resident[s] at 914.  This is one of the few positive moves in local real estate I've seen in the past year.

12/7/1998:  A couple student projects should be complete "real soon now;" look for news on this in the near future.

12/7/1998:  Task Force Changes:  Added Patrick Marton and Richard Donovan to History.  Removed Gina Coffman from Public Relations and Ellen Jenkins from Development.

12/7/1998:  Current Board Nominees (speak up if you're not on this list!):
  - John Henderson, currently with HAJJ Development Services, offering development expertise.
  - Edmond Green, currently with Jubilee Baltimore, offering property  management expertise.
  - John Lowe, Froehling & Robertson, contacts in Architecture and Development.

12/7/1998:  Approaching our anniversary (January 9th, 12:35pm).

12/7/1998:  Special thanks to Evan Wilson, JR Fritsch and Richard Donovan for their recent work.

12/2/1998:  Meeting tomorrow, December 3rd, 6pm, Al Pacino's.  Agenda is discussing a fundraising plan for Brexton Renaissance.  I hope to see several of you there.

12/2/1998:  Brexton Renaissance opened an account with the Bank of Maryland (#1600000126).  It's a locally-owned Maryland bank, still independent of major conglomerated banks, and publically traded as a subsidiary of Mason-Dixon Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: MSDX).  The local branch is at 2 North Charles (the B&O Railroad building, just north of the Morris Mechanic Theatre.  Other branches in Towson, Bel Air, Pikeville, Perry Hall, Annaoplis, Salisbury, Bishopville, Crisfield, Princess Anne, and Federalsburg.  Anyway, after months of searching and a hot tip from a local developer, this is about the ideal bank for the project.  It's good to have them on-board.

12/2/1998:  Current Board Nominees:
  - John Henderson, currently with HAJJ Development Services, offering development expertise.
  - Edmond Green, currently with Jubilee Baltimore, offering property management expertise.
  - John Lowe, Froehling & Robertson, contacts in Architecture and Development.

11/27/1998:  I hope everyone had a thankful thanksgiving!  Let me throw in my personal thanks to all of you for contributing in your own ways to the success of Brexton Renaissance so far.

11/27/1998:  Fundraising meeting, Thursday, December 3rd, 6pm, Al Pacino's.  Please RSVP!  Agenda:  establish a broad plan for fundraising and contribution levels/benefits.

11/27/1998:  BREXTON RENAISSANCE WILL DECLINE THE FY1998 MARYLAND HISTORICAL TRUST GRANT AWARD OF $40,000 AND WILL RE-APPLY FOR THE FY1999 SEASON.  I make this decision with significant hesitation.  One of the key goals of the last meeting was to assess the potential of Brexton Renaissance to fully comply with the MHT's grant guidelines.  In the end, the relatively low turnout (even allowing for several people who did not find the meeting room) and very limited timeframe to secure title to the Brexton force me to err on the side of caution.  At this point, I conclude that it is in Brexton Renaissance's best interest to retain the good graces of the board of the Maryland Historical Trust.

11/27/1998:  Fall meeting report:  Essentially as I had hoped, a spirited Q&A session among the participants, and discussion of several key points related to accepting the MHT $40,000 grant award.  Three options were discussed: accepting the award, declining the award and re-applying, and partnering with a commercial developer.  We did miss the nomination agenda item, so I'll open nominations for future members of the Board of Directors of Brexton Renaissance (see below).  Points made:  Strength of the Board of Directors is a key and pressing concern.  Fundraising must begin immediately.  Foundations, including Abell, Goldseeker, Weinberg should be invited to contribute.  Attending:  Alan Povey, Jim Hall, Sharon Spicher, Frank Spicher, Erin Doherty-Lucas, Beverly Bauhof, Neetu Dhawan-Grey (departed early).  Board Members:  Roger Wood.

11/27/1998:  Special thanks to Father Constantine Monios of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, for hosting this meeting and providing a guided personal tour of their facility (another of Charles Cassell's architectural masterworks).

11/27/1998:  Special thanks to J.R. Fritsch, who spent some considerable time videtaping the Brexton to create a "pre-Brexton Renaissance" record of the conditions.  Thanks also to Jennifer Ryu and Mike Hebert for supplying electricity to do this work.

11/27/1998:  Now accepting nominations to the Board of Directors of Brexton Renaissance.  I'm planning to re-constitute the Board very early in 1999, and these members will serve through the Design and Construction phases.  Our plan calls for six board members, and I hope to represent Development, Architecture, History and Fundraising expertise, plus a Chair and Treasurer.  I should note that the duties of the Board are still "under review," but these will be unpaid positions (with compensation for expenses).  Current nominees follow:
  - John Henderson, currently with HAJJ Development Services, offering  development expertise.
  - Edmond Green, currently with Jubilee Baltimore, offering property management expertise.

11/27/1998:  I need recommendations for a supporter structure for donations to Brexton Renaissance.  Also, ideas for benefits for supporters at each level.  Remember:  large donations count, we have millions to raise.  This is on the hot list for the meeting on December 3rd.

11/27/1998:  Killer web site developers needed ASAP.  I've got raw data, but no "punch," so ask around and see if you know of anyone who can put together an amazing web space.

11/27/1998:  Midtown Plan, Stimulating Good Redevelopment Committee Meetings:
  - Tour of multifamily properties on the market.  Dec 3, 3pm, departing from 1221 N. Calvert St.
  - Next scheduled meeting  Dec 9, 7:30pm, 1221 N. Calvert St.
I encourage all of you to participate in this planning process.

11/27/1998:  Neetu Dhawan-Gray has offered the Waxter Center as reception space for the Spring 1999 Cassell in Mount Vernon tour.

11/27/1998:  Any comments or experiences with the Bank of Maryland?  It looks like we're about to establish a long-term relationship with them.

11/17/1998:  Brexton Renaissance Fall Meeting, Saturday, November 21, 2pm.  Organizational and general meeting, 2pm, at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annuncation (24 West Preston Street) to be followed by tour at the Brexton (868 Park Avenue).  All of you are encouraged to attend; please RSVP so I can get a head count.

11/17/1998:  The Midtown Plan, Stimulating Good Redevelopment Committee is meeting November 18, 7:30pm.  Contact Kamilla Schenck, Midtown Plan Coordinator, 410.327.7373x19 for more information.

11/17/1998:  Any comments or experiences with the Bank of Maryland?  It looks like we're about to establish a long-term relationship with them.

11/10/1998:  Brexton Renaissance Fall Meeting, Saturday, November 21, 2pm. Organizational and general meeting, 2pm, at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral  of the Annuncation (24 West Preston Street) to be followed by tour at  the Brexton (868 Park Avenue).  All of you are encouraged to attend.
     1)  Tour of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral (designed by Charles Cassell).
     2)  Present current status of Brexton Renaissance.
         a)  Major announcement regarding availability of acquisition funds.
         b)  Announcement regarding a commercial developer.
         c)  Work accomplished to date.
         d)  Priority of work still to be done.
     3)  Present research opportunities related to the Brexton.
         a)  Cassell Tour Building Histories (about 18 buildings).
         b)  Charles Emmett Cassell biographical material.
         c)  Samuel Gerrish Wyman biographical material.
         d)  Narrative/Oral histories of the Brexton.
         e)  Document current condition of the Brexton.
         f)  Financial analyses and Feasibility Studies.
         g)  Architectural models and drawings.
         h)  Sophisticated web presence.
    4)  Accept nominations for Brexton Renaissance Treasurer.
    5)  Accept nominations for Brexton Renaissance Board of Directors.
    6)  Formal Assignment of Task Force Coordinators and Volunteers.
    7)  Tour of the Brexton.
I will attempt to call everyone this week to invite you personally to attend. If you would like to nominate someone (or yourself) for
Treasurer or Board of Directors and cannot make this meeting, get in touch with me before the 21st!  Special thanks to Father Constantine Monios for hosting this meeting, and congratulations on the renovation of the Cathedral.

11/10/1998:  It should be fairly apparent from this update:  I am emphasizing research and education opportunities for this project recently.

11/10/1998:  REALLY SHORT NOTICE:  Baltimore Architecture Foundation is touring Asbury House and Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church November 10, Noon.  Call Jim Wollon for more information, 410.879.6748. History and Architecture enthusiasts are encouraged to attend.

11/10/1998:  1000 Friends of Maryland is meeting at the Maryland Institute College of Art, November 13, 6pm.  Contact Larry Bohlen for more information, 301.445.1548.  This group promotes smart growth and community development.

11/10/1998:  The Midtown Plan, Stimulating Good Redevelopment Committee is meeting November 18, 7:30pm.  Contact Kamilla Schenck, Midtown Plan Coordinator, 410.327.7373x19 for more information.  You are definitely encouraged to attend these meetings, particularly if you live in Mt. Vernon, Bolton Hill, Charles North or Madison Park.  This committee is concerned with the built infrastructure of Midtown.

11/10/1998:  Totally incidental to the Brexton, but if you can get away from city lights in the wee hours of November 17th and 18th, I encourage you to see the Leonid meteor shower.

10/25/1998:  Meetings scheduled (details below):
    Brexton Walkthrough         October 28, 4-6pm
    History Task Force          October 28, 6pm, Al Pacino's
    Cassell Tour Project        October 28, 6pm, Al Pacino's
    Development Task Force      November 14, noon, place TBA
    Fundraising Task Force      November 14, noon, place TBA

10/25/1998:  New Walkthrough date and History Task Force meeting.  I'll be at the Brexton on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 28th, starting at 4pm.  Anyone who would like to see the building, is welcome to appear.  Following that, i'm headed to Al Pacino's for dinner and a meeting of the History people and Cassell Walking Tour people.  Please RSVP ASAP and throw some acronyms back at me.

10/25/1998:  MVBIA Presentation.  Well, I wasn't the excited, go-getting Personal Empowerment Guru Clone everyone would've loved, but I did survive the MVBIA presentation.  No hecklers; a few good questions, lots of support and about 50 copies of an 8-page introduction to Brexton Renaissance.  So, now I feel welcome in the neighborhood.  Thanks to Steve Johnson for having me.

10/25/1998:  New Developer.  Yet another developer has appeared to tackle the Brexton.  They're still very early in the process, but it could end up residential or combination residential/bed and breakfast or something like that.  I've seen this happen several times in the past couple years, with a commercial developer and good intentions, and "money is no problem."  I've offered my help and resources, and well... "good luck."

10/25/1998:  More student projects!  A couple students have come forward lately to pursue projects with the Brexton.  All I can say is that it's great to have you with us.  Anyone else interested?

10/25/1998:  Going to the readin' room.  I'll be spending several days at UMBC (Catonsville) pouring over issues of the Baltimore Sun from the late 1800's and early 1900's looking for Brexton and Charles Cassell stuff. If anyone wants to pull up a microfilm reader, and join the party, let me know, and I'll try to coordinate my schedule.

10/25/1998:  Maryland Downtown Development Association (MDDA) conference, November 5-6-7 in Annapolis.  I'll be attending this  development conference all day, and generally unavailable on these dates.  Once I've digested all this wonderful information, I'll make some sort of presentation to the Brexton Development and Fundraising people - November 14th at noon, place TBA.  Please let me know if you're interested in this meeting so I can get a head count and pick an appropriate venue.

10/25/1998:  Greek Festival, November 6-7-8.  Not that it's terribly related to the Brexton, but it is tangentially related to Charles Cassell.  One of Cassell's OTHER buildings (the Greek Orthodox Cathedral) plays a central part in this fun- and food-filled event; I encourage you all to attend, and while you're in the neighborhood, come down a couple blocks and check out the Brexton.  Note the conflict with the MDDA event; I'm hoping to make the 8th for this one if anyone wants to meet me there.

10/19/1998:  MVBIA Presentation.  I will be presenting a project overview at the MVBIA regular meeting on October 20th, 7pm at the Belvedere in the Palm Room.  This will be a fairly quick presentation, and a formal introduction to the community group that is most directly affected by the Brexton and Brexton Renaissance.  You are all encouraged to attend; I'll field questions after the meeting.

10/19/1998:  PlanBaltimore!  The final meeting of this "Comprehensive Plan" series is Wednesday, October 21st, 6pm.  Mayor Schmoke will be speaking; I presume this is an overview of the process-to-date. It is at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, 5207 Roland Ave.

10/14/1998:  MVBIA Presentation.  I will be presenting a project overview at the MVBIA regular meeting on October 20th, 6pm.  This will be a fairly quick presentation, and a formal introduction to the community group that is most directly affected by the Brexton and Brexton Renaissance.  You are all encouraged to attend; I'll field questions after the meeting.

10/14/1998:  PlanBaltimore!  The final meeting of this "Comprehensive Plan" series is Wednesday, October 21st, 6pm.  Mayor Schmoke will be speaking; I presume this is an overview of the process-to-date. It is at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, 5207 Roland Ave.

10/14/1998:  In case anyone did miss it, the Brexton was selected as "Best Old Building" by the Baltimore City Paper (9/23/1998):

"We absolutely love the Brexton, an oddly shaped six-story Victorian masterpiece wedged onto a triangular midtown lot. Built in 1881-1882 by prominent architect Charles Cassell, the Brexton began by offering luxury accommodations to wealthy tenants such as Wallis Warfield Simpson before ending up as low-rent art-student digs at the time of its abandonment in 1987.  The building has been empty ever since, its only occupants pigeons and the occasional vagrant. Its windows smashed and its interior rotting from sheer age compounded by water damage, the Brexton is at high risk of decay and destruction.

    This magnificent and unusal building, looking something like an elongated version of the Addams family's mansion, is an irreplaceable piece of 19th-century Baltimore history.  We applaud amateur preservationist Roger Wood's effort to purchase and restore the Brexton before it is lost, like so many other noteworthy city edifices.  And we really think you ought to drive by sometime and check out one of the coolest buildings in Baltimore."

My thanks to the City Paper and their staff.

10/14/1998:  I have joined the Maryland Downtown Development Association (MDDA), and will be attending the MDDA annual conference, November 5-7 in Annapolis.

10/14/1998:  I recently uncovered the minute book of the Baltimore Chapter of AIA, in very bad shape.  I recommended to the Baltimore Architecture Foundation that they mount a preservation effort for this document, which dates to 1870.  Baltimore's AIA chapter is the second-oldest chapter in the AIA, (only New York is older).  The Brexton's architect, Charles Cassell, was a founding member, and his signature appears on the first page.  If you happen to be an expert in deacidification or preservation of documents, I have some people you should speak with.

10/14/1998:  I've applied for a grant from the American Architecture Foundation and requested the assistance of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation to help with printed materials for the Cassell/Mt. Vernon Walking Tour

10/14/1998:  Looking for volunteers to put together the "story" of each building on the Cassell/Mt. Vernon Tour, if you're interested in Baltimore or architecture and history, get in touch with me soon.

10/14/1998:  Thanks to Sharon Spicher for donating camera and time to photograph buildings along the Walking Tour route.

10/14/1998:  Thanks to Father Constantine Monios of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation for opening this grand Cassell building and providing materials on its history.  The restoration of the interior is quite beautiful.

9/30/1998:  Thursday (October 1st) photographic tour of Mount Vernon.  I'll be running around Baltimore generally following the path of the spring walking tour, to take pictures of prominent Cassell buildings.  You are, of course, invited to come along, pick my brain and enjoy these neat buildings.  I'll be starting at 10am at the Maryland Historical Trust, weather permitting (overcast or rain will cancel this).

9/30/1998:  A few updates to the web site; some people are still reporting trouble viewing pictures on the site.  I'm still trying to track down the problem there, please bear with me.  Your suggestions always welcome.

9/30/1998:  So much for getting to Virginia in September!  I'm still trying to confirm which archive/library has what, and playing lots of phone tag in that quest.  I'm not having much luck in Massachusetts, either. Anyone know historian/archive contacts in either state?  Can you point me to a friendly person?

9/25/1998:  Got an opening on the Brexton team for a workshop on neighborhood-based strategic planning.  This is Saturday morning, 9a-1p, at 1401 Hollins St.  This workshop involves the City Department of Planning, the Neighborhood Design Center, Citizen's Planning & Housing Association.  I'm registered, but i've had a cancellation, so if you're interested, i'm sure a substitution isn't a big deal.

9/25/1998:  I will also be meeting about the Brexton, at 3pm on Saturday at the Daily Grind in Fells Point.  This is an odd arrangement, and almost no notice, but you are, of course, invited.  The more the merrier.

9/25/1998:  Is anyone on the mailing list NOT capable of web browsing?  If so, let me know.

9/25/1998:  History Task Force is going solo.  I'm handing over the reigns for this group to Erin Doherty, and letting her coordinate the historic research.  If you're interested in historic Baltimore, architectural history, or just like to spend time in libraries, please let me know and I'll add you to this task force and Erin can give you something wonderful to do to help save the Brexton.

9/25/1998:  Still trying to coordinate the Virginia trip and make it productive. Lots of places in that state that might have good things to see and/or copy, and right now it looks like the best approach will be to depart early on a weekday, get a full day in libraries and archives, spend the night in virginia, the next weekday back in the collections, and come back that evening.  Unfortunately, that won't leave a lot of time for analysis, so I imagine this is going to be a mostly-find-and-photocopy mission.  Interested?  Available?  I'd love to drag you along.

9/25/1998:  Thanks to Jennifer Ryu for attending the PlanBaltimore! event on the 23rd.  Good to see you again.

9/17/1998:  PlanBaltimore! Meeting on Wednesday, September 23rd, at the Waxter Center.  The subject is Commercial Economic Development.  The location is 1000 Cathedral St, directly across from the Brexton.  Time is 6pm-9pm.  You are welcome to attend, contribute, or meet with me before or after this meeting.

9/17/1998:   have joined the Maryland Historical Society.

9/17/1998:  Beverly Bauhof has joined Lyse Favre in heading up the Cassell Walking Tour project.  I'm going to completely hand off that project in the near future, and dedicate myself to the development work in the near term.  I hope to have this together and running for early Spring, 1999.

9/17/1998:  Both Jennifer Ryu and Sharon Spicher have expressed interest in a Virginia research trip, the sooner the better.  Anyone else interested, please get in touch with me ASAP so I don't leave these wonderful people hanging too long.

9/17/1998:  Still looking for feedback and comments on the Brexton Renaissance web stuff:  Also looking for hardcore HTML people to expand what I've got, add cool
stuff, etc.  If you are such a person, get in touch with me!

9/10/98:  I now have some web space available, so it's time to get the web designers doing amazing things.  I have some limited material available on the site:

If you visit, please let me know what you think, offer any suggestions, and pardon the dust.  My warmest regards to Paul Heller and the staff at  HIS, they are great people.

9/10/98:  We have substantial work on the history of the Brexton and the architect and builder.  With a good foundation established, i'm going to let the History Task Force run with it.  I have a list of materials to locate and copy from both the UMBC library and Maryland Historical Society.  Erin Doherty has graciously accepted the role of coordinating this research for the time being.

9/10/98:  The walking tour of Mt. Vernon's Cassell projects seems viable; i'm aiming to set that up for the spring.  Anne-Marlyse Favre will be heading this up once she's settled into the current semester.

9/10/98:  I've sent a list of "research opportunities" to local universities.  I  doubt i'll get a degree out of this project, but that doesn't mean  someone else can't... if you are a student, or know a student in a  history or architecture field, i'd like to talk to them.  Even better,
 if you know of a professor (or high school teacher) who would like to  get a class involved, i need to hear from them soon (at the beginning of  the semester!).

9/10/98:  I will likely be much less available during the months of October and  November, owing to a pursuit of cash.  Some of you have already noticed  a decline in the frequency of updates; please accept my apologies.

8/16/98:  As of August 11, 1998, Brexton Renaissance is registered with the Office of the Secretary of State of Maryland as a Charitable Organization.  Registration number is 8406.  This means Brexton Renaissance can now solicit charitable contributions.

8/16/98:  History Task Force meeting, Sunday, August 23rd, noon at Al Pacino's (Corner of Cathedral and Eager).  I'll provide copies of the material i have on Charles Cassell and Samuel Wyman, designate some coordinators, and let this task force get off and running.  That fun and amazing event will be followed by...

8/16/98:  A tour of Mt. Vernon and Bolton Hill looking at Charles Cassell'sbuildings.  I want to get some pictures of facades, make sure i know which ones still exist, and get some feedback on the concept of a walking tour/historical background/fundraising event in this vein.  Besides, this is an exceptionally cool collection of buildings. Buildings on the agenda:

8/11/98:  Good photodocumentation of most of the Brexton on the 8th.  Thanks to Beverly Bauhoff and the powers of digital photography and Sony <G>.  Also took Beverly on a big of a Cassellian history tour.  Not quite complete (or coherent!), but she seemed interested.  Cassell did some amazing buildings in the neighborhood.

8/11/98:  Eric Lehnert revisted the site, and will be providing a copy of a video of the interior.

8/11/98:  Alan Bowman offered to do some work getting the Brexton into CAD and

8/11/98:  Added yet another neighbor to our support group, Dan Willson, who has expressed interest in acting as a sort of liaison with local government.  A very interesting and important role to fill.  Anyone else with political ambition want to work with him?

8/11/98:  Looking for Coordinators for each Task Force.  I've got to divest some of the control for the project, so if you're interested in stepping up and running with a task force or even a job within one, please let me know.

7/29/98:  Fundraising/Gala Task Force Meeting August 4th, 6pm at Al Pacino's.  Agenda:  Review feasibility and schedule for Gala Events related to the Brexton.

7/29/98:  Public Relations Task Force Meeting August 8th, 2pm at the Brexton.  Agenda:  Review draft presentation material for project announcements in September/October.  Select letterhead.  Brainstorm promotional ideas for the project.

7/29/98:  History Task Force Meeting August 8th, 3pm at the Brexton.  Agenda:  Designate Coordinators for both the Documentary History andPersonal History Task Forces.  Present  and coordinate findings to date.

7/29/98:  Documentary Photography of the Brexton August 8th, 10am-2pm and 4pm-Whenever.  This is a weather-sensitive job, if it's raining, no pictures.  Beverly Bauhof is bringing a digital camera (YES!).  I'll have some work lights for the basement and first floor.  If anyone else is interested in doing interior photography or videography, this is a
good day to do it.  All i ask is that you let Brexton Renaissance copy your materials for the archive.

7/29/98:  A summary of progress was distributed to the Board Members of the Mount Vernon/Belvedere Improvement Association (MVBIA) on July 14th. Support was reiterated; the concensus was "very positive."

7/29/98:  One of the commercial developers has dropped the Brexton.  That's mixed news:  Bad, since a commercial development would be ideal for the future of the building (and they'd hopefully at least clean it up).  Good, since that means the Brexton isn't likely to be sold in the near future.  Rumors abound about at least one other developer still working on a plan for the building.

7/29/98:  Looking for grant/proposal writers.  This is [yet another] field in which i have zero practical experience.  I do know is that Brexton Renaissance needs all the historic preservation money that's available.

7/25/98:  Missed everyone on the 20th - are Monday evenings bad?

7/25/98:  History Task Force is up and running with some wonderful gems from the Brexton's past.  If you like spending time in libraries or looking through old newspapers and photographs, let me know.

7/25/98:  Fundraising and Public Relations Task Forces needs to meet ASAP.  Please let me know when you are (and not) available, so we can get this moving forward.

7/25/98:  Looking for some extension cords and construction lights to get in and document the Brexton photographically.  Beverly Bauhof is providing a digital camera.  Anyone else interested in photographing or videotaping the interior is welcome.  If you have photographs or videotapes of the Brexton, please let us copy them.

7/25/98:  Anyone know VRML, QuickTimeVR or some other 3D web-based walkthrough
technology?  Students encouraged, this needs to come together over the next several months as part of the web site development.  There's a great potential here for a MICA class or small group project.

7/25/98:  Looking for a local internet service provider to donate web space and perhaps a few dial-up accounts for the volunteers to Brexton Renaissance.  Recommendations?

7/25/98:  Looking for a printer to do letterhead, business cards and a promotional brochure/package.  Recommendations?

7/14/98:  Public Relations Task Force meeting Monday, July 20th, 6pm at Al  Pacino's (Cathedral and Read St).  Agenda:
 1)  Select a WebStuff coordinator to head up and coordinate a very intense web site for the Brexton.
 2)  Edit/comment on presentation for MVBIA and fundraising.
 3)  Select letterhead/corporate identity.
 4)  Determine documentation requirements.
 5)  Brainstorm PR events.

7/14/98:  Fundraising Task Force meeting Monday, July 20th, 7:30pm at Al Pacino's.  I hope to have a draft fundraising plan together by the 20th.  Agenda:
 1)  Select two volunteers who can track down grant opportunities and prepare the packages required to get the money.
 2)  Select a Gala Events Coordinator.
 3)  Select a Special Events Coordinator.
 4)  Brainstorm Fundraising events.

7/14/98:  Thanks to Erin, Joe, Patti and Temple for attending the History Task Force meeting.  We need someone willing to spend some serious time reviewing newspaper and photograph archives.  If you enjoy libraries, and have some time to spend, please let me know.

7/14/98:  Looking for someone(s) to document (photo and video) the current condition of the Brexton.  Every nook and cranny, pile of pigeon guano, empty bottle of Wild Irish Rose and National Bohemian.  This is for the archive, so it has to be thorough.  I'd also like to make this into a web-based walkthrough of the place, so computer/web skills are a plus.

7/14/98:  Looking for a local printer willing to donate decent letterhead and business cards.

7/14/98:  I need a new Treasurer for Brexton Renaissance.  Qualifications:  A commitment to the Brexton project, no criminal record, pristine references, competent in accounting and record keeping and familiarity with fundraising process.  This is unpaid, but Brexton Renaissance will cover expenses.  Primary duties are to keep the books, and provide reports and documentation for any grant applications and post-grant follow up.  Trips to the bank, and good record keeping.

7/14/98:  I'm preparing a presentation for the Mount Vernon/Belvedere Improvement Association (MVBIA), hopefully in time for their regular September meeting (Sept 15, 7pm, Belvedere).  This is the formal announcement of the Brexton Renaissance Plan for the Brexton.

7/6/98:  I have returned from my most-of-June engagements.  So, I need to set a date, time and place for a Web Development Task Force Meeting and a Fundraising Task Force meeting.  If you are interested in participating in any capacity with either of those projects, let me know now, and warn me of any scheduling conflicts you have this month.  Thanks.

7/6/98:  I'm tentatively scheduling a trip to the Boston area for mid-August.  If you're interested in coming along, have friends in that area, or just want to chase down the history of the family that built the Brexton, you are welcome to join me.

6/21/98:  Public Relations Task Force meeting with Gina Coffman, Luci Morreale and Wayne Pung went well; I now have three draft concepts for Brexton Renaissance logo and letterhead.  If you have any ideas, suggestions or artwork, let me know... we need to settle on a corporate identity soon.

6/21/98:  Thanks to stumbling across the memoirs of William Keyser, made available by Michael Keyser, I now have a lineage for Samuel Gerrish Wyman (the builder) back to the early 1600's in England.  If you want to read these memiors, let me know.

6/21/98:  Sam Wyman's estate at the time of his death (1883), just a couple years after the Brexton was announced, was valued at $1.5 million (and the Brexton was in much better shape!)

6/21/98:  The heavy connections the Wyman family has to New England and the Boston area in particular may warrant a trip north to poke around some family estates and see what exists.  If anyone wants to go north, please let me know.

6/21/98:  I will be generally unavailable until the first week in July, owing to the marraige of my cousin.  I'm not ignoring you on purpose!

6/21/98:  When i return, we need to get the Fundraising volunteers together for a planning meeting.

6/21/98:  When i return, we need to get the Web volunteers together for a preliminary design and needs assessment meeting.  I'd like to have a site live and chock-full-o-information by the end of July.

6/21/98:  The Maryland Downtown Development Association is having an awards luncheon on July 15th.  This happens in Bethesda, and would appear to involve lots of people who are very much interested in revitalizing urban areas.

6/15/98:  Note:  PR Task Force is meeting Thursday, June 18, 6pm at the City Cafe.  All are invited to attend, I think i missed the date in the last update message.

6/15/98:  Next major item is Fundraising.  I'll schedule a meeting for the Fundraising Task Force in early July, once I'm back from my next road trip.  If you're interested in attending and have conflicts on weekday evenings or weekends between July 6 and July 12th, let me
know so I can work around them.

6/15/98:  Anyone with film and/or video experience, please step forward and be counted.  We're looking for some people to work on an ongoing documentary of the Brexton Renaissance project in conjunction with the Public Relations Task Force and Baltimore Youth TV.

6/15/98:  Rumor has it yet another commercial developer is interested in the Brexton.  This one with a good reputation.  I don't know how far along they are, but i'll keep an eye on them and see how it goes.

6/15/98:  I've tracked the name Brexton as far as the shores of Massachusets Bay.  Depending on what I find out from that end of the world, there might be a field trip up north too.

6/15/98:  Civil War Buffs:  We have here a building designed by a Southern, Confederate architect for a rich Northern businessman from a Massachusetts family.  North meets South just a few years after the War.

6/14/98:  Back from the first road-trip of the month.  Sorry for all the delays and miscommunication.  My schedule got altered radically on zero-notice, and I was out for a little more than a week.  Unfortunately, I also didn't get the work I wanted to get done in Virginia, so I'm going back (see below), and you're welcome to come.

6/14/98:  This month is already set up to be quite congested as far as my schedule is concerned.  I will be out of town again for the last week and a half of the month, into the first week of July.  My apologies in advance for leaving anyone hanging.

6/14/98:  I'd like to get the Public Relations group together in the next several days - particularly graphic artists.  Issues to address include logo, letterhead and other "corporate identity" work, and the start of web development.  I'd like to schedule it tentatively for Thursday the 18th; let me know if you have a conflict that day at 6pm.

6/14/98:  It's getting hot here in Maryland, which is quite un-conducive to walkthroughs at the Brexton (it stinks).  If you really want to get into the building, let me know and we'll do an abbreviated tour. Otherwise, it's business-only for the rest of the hot season.

6/14/98:  I'm planning to make a road trip into Virginia (Fredericksburg, Portsmouth and possibly Richmond and the U of VA to track down Charles Cassell (architect of the Brexton).  This is going to take 2-3 week days, probably in mid-July.  If anyone is interested in coming along, let me know.  I'm interested in photographing his works in those cities
and tracking down his family history.

6/14/98:  I'm planning to spend a day up in Havre de Grace reviewing the Baltimore Architecture Foundation's files on Charles Cassell.  This is a one weekday job.  One or two volunteers, preferably with laptops, are welcome to help.

6/5/98:  Next walkthrough/meeting will be Monday, June 8, 6pm.  I'd like to talk with people who would like to volunteer in promotions and web presence.

6/5/98:  We need to find some hardcore aggressive killer web site volunteers. (with their violent tendencies appropriately channeled, of course). If you are one, or know one, please find me.

6/5/98:  The transition in the mailing list administration is, as expected, a mess.  Please bear with me while I get everyone on the appropriate list and clean out the cobwebs.

6/2/98:   First meeting of the History Task force went quite well.  Thanks to  Beverly Bauhof, Heather Mason and Jennifer Ryu.  Next meeting for this  task force is July 13, 6pm at the City Cafe.  I also got word from Erin Doherty that a Charles E. Cassell did, in fact, serve in the Confederate Army Engineering Corps, so some of the colorful rumors about this man  are true.

6/2/98:   Also had an interesting talk with Walter Neese of Designer Hardware.  His support and commitment to the neighborhood are very welcome.

6/2/98:  I am setting up an administrative announcements email distribution list.  You will NOT be able to contribute; it is read-only.  All content posted to the administrative list will also appear on the existing list, where you can comment at will.

6/2/98:  To accomodate everyone's personal preferences, I'm clearing the existing distribution list. That means if you want to continue to participate in Brexton email lists; I need to hear from you.  Reply to this message, and indicate your preference - either the announcements-only list (no public replies) or the general list (open public discussion).  While you're replying, please indicate if you're interested in begin a volunteer, and if so, which of the task forces listed below interest you. Thanks.

6/2/98:  Administrative change to mailing list operation.  To keep the list traffic on-topic and focused, updates will go out with my personal reply address.  The "" address is still active, and all are welcome to participate.  Replies to update messages will NOT be redistributed automatically, they will reach me personally.  If it's a subject for discussion on the list, I will quote you in a distributed reply.

5/31/98:  Next meeting Tuesday, June 2, 6pm.  I'm still working my way through the local real estate market, and will be at the Brexton on Tuesday.  I'd like to meet with several of the volunteers interested in the History Task Forces.  A brief introduction to the building, what I know already, and where this fits into the big scheme.  So, Beverly, Suzanne, Erin,
Heather, Jennifer, Sharon and any other history and/or architecture buffs, this is about you.  Please let me know if you can make it.

5/31/98:  Volunteer groups.  I need to start scheduling the first round of volunteer meetings to get the Task Forces set up, supported and let them do their thing.  I'm going to try to schedule most volunteer meetings at or after 6pm on weekdays or on weekends, generally near the Brexton (ie, in the city).  If you have a particular schedule that I need to accomodate, please let me know.

5/31/98:  Volunteer cookout/kickoff a success.  After dragging that many people to Brexton Street, what else can i say.  I did miss several people, but overall, i'm pleased.  Thanks to all attendants and supporters, special thanks to Gene (grillmaster) and Erin Lucas and Frank and Sharon Spicher, Jenn Ryu and Mike Hebert (hosts).  Welcome to David Williams, Stan Koch, Jerry Meconi, Lisa Thomas-Kaonohi - it's good to have you with us.  "It has begun."

[ News items prior to 5/31/98 not yet webbified ]