Neighbors Aim to Preserve Loch Raven Library

An application was filed last week to place the library on the county landmarks list.


A group of concerned residents, along with an architect's family, wants to see Baltimore County keep the standing.

Bitten Norman, a Loch Raven resident, said she turned in an application to the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission last week.

"We're just waiting to hear if we'll be allowed to testify on behalf of the library because we've got so much documentation, research we've done on the building and information we've gotten from the architect's family," Norman said.

Last year, residents formed the Friends of Loch Raven Library, a community group to help support the library and hold community events like guest lectures.

In recent years, the small, one-room library has faced numerous closure threats. In 1993, officials closed the branch for five years.

Today, the library is open six days a week, with some reduced hours. Norman, however, said the neighborhood can support a full-service branch with expanded hours and said neighbors want to see the library expand into space used by the Baltimore County Health Department.

"That library is in constant use and doing a quick calculation, there's over 2,000 homes within walking distance of that library," Norman said, along with numerous apartment complexes.

A 2010 county-approved community plan for Hillendale recommended increasing staffing at the Loch Raven Library.

The library, opened in 1967, was designed by Robert Randall Fryer Sr., a Ruxton resident whose other projects included the Kraushaar Auditorum at , the Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore and the Annapolis Yacht Club. Fryer passed away in 1995.

In a 1993 Baltimore Sun interview, Fryer, known for his Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired designs, discussed how he blended the wooded setting with the glass, steel and concrete of the library.

"I wanted to create an oasis in the woods, a place where people could enjoy the woods but that was in and of itself a different form," he told the paper. "I wanted to build in the woods without upsetting the woods."

In 1969, Norman pointed out, that design won an award from the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Baltimore and the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

"The use of stone and glass is reflected in all of his designs, so even though the library itself is just shy of 50 years old, it's still a very significant building," Norman said.

Residents have worried about the library being demolished, Norman said, a proposition both library officials and County Councilman David Marks have said is unlikely.

"There are no plans to demolish the library anytime soon but their concern is that this is always going to be an option," Marks said.

The landmarks commission can schedule a hearing and could issue a decision in about three months.

Final approval, however, rests with the County Council. Marks said he would "reserve judgment" until the landmarks commission forwards the application to him, but "I spent many Saturdays at that library as a kid, and think it is a very special and unique building."

Pat Gill April 07, 2012 at 05:12 PM
This just goes to prove that there in not a public service (fire, library, post office) that someone won't work hard to keep open. Of course, if this society in unable to accept change there is no hope of shrinking the cost of government. Councilman Marks is getting good grades so far from those who worry about the future if we don't reign in costs. We will see. As to the Landmark Preservation move, this process has been a resource for abusing private property rights for years now. Imagine the idea that a 50 year old building is historic enough to be preserved for all time because the architect was a fan and imitator of Frank Lloyd Wright. I would say "incredible", except, in today's world it is "credible".
Beverly April 08, 2012 at 12:58 AM
If we did not allow landmark preservation there would be no physical past to look at and learn from other than in books and pictures. Once all the old buildings are gone and the land is developed....that's that! The new buildings will NEVER be historic since that are so POORLY built that it will be a miracle if they last a decade!
Stewart April 08, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Actually the National Register of Historic Places through the Department of the Interior is the government agency that created the 50 year guideline and designation criteria for local preservation organizations to use. Not every building is historic just because it is old but it is important to have the process in place to evaluate nominated buildings and make the proper determination. In this case it may not be historic but citizens should be allowed to have the conversation in the first place.
Ken S. April 09, 2012 at 01:48 PM
As an architect living in Hillendale where I grew up, I agree with Stewart. Ken S.
Denny Jenkins April 09, 2012 at 06:24 PM
When I was a student at Loch Raven Elem...that library did not even exist.


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