Press Release

May 16, 2024
Cardin, Van Hollen, Mfume Celebrate Nearly $2 Million in Direct Federal Investments for Historic Preservation Projects in West Baltimore

WASHINGTON –Recently, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Kweisi Mfume (all D-Md.) joined local leaders and partners in West Baltimore to highlight $1,738,000 in direct federal investments for two community projects. The lawmakers first visited the Druid Hill Y, where they were joined by State Senator Antonio Hayes and Councilman James Torrence, to mark the $1,238,000 they secured for renovations around the aging building, including the replacement of the roof, enhancements to the pool area, and updates to the locker rooms and transitional housing for single mothers and their children. Senator Cardin, Van Hollen and Congressman Mfume were then joined by Councilman Eric Costello, Councilman John Bullock, and Comptroller Bill Henry to visit 828 North Carrolton Avenue in West Baltimore, best known as the longtime home of the late Congressman Parren Mitchell – the first Black American elected to Congress from Maryland, and a founding member of the influential Congressional Black Caucus. The lawmakers secured $500,000 to restore the house to serve as a center for education and culture, as well as a community meeting place.

“West Baltimore played a central role in the civil rights movement, and the Y in Druid Hill and the home of the late Congressman Parren Mitchell stand today as important reminders of that time. Built into the walls of these historic buildings are stories that need to be told,” said Senator Cardin. “This federal investment helps preserve Maryland’s rich history and secures vital community resources that strengthen Baltimore’s cultural heritage and economy.”

“The Druid Hill Y and the home of Congressman Parren Mitchell both have tremendous historical importance to our communities – but it’s not just their past that merits these investments, it’s also their place in our future. These properties are points of pride for all who live here, and these federal investments will help revitalize these landmarks while opening more doors of opportunity for Baltimoreans,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Appropriations Committee.

“These announcements were a ‘coming home’ for me because I spent my teenage years living in West Baltimore. I learned how to swim at the Druid Hill Y and was mentored by Congressman Parren Mitchell from the time I was nineteen years old until the day that he passed. Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen fought valiantly in the U.S. Senate to make these federal awards possible as part of our joint efforts to make West Baltimore a gem in our City,” said Congressman Mfume. “This community did so much to help make Baltimore what it is, during an era when cities were falling apart. I can assure you, these investments are a beginning, not an end,” he concluded.

The Y in Druid Hill, built in 1916, is an anchor for the predominantly Black community surrounding it. It is a vital resource that helps address local social inequities facing the community stemming from historical marginalization and underinvestment. The $1,238,000 in direct federal funding will support structural improvements inside and outside the aging building while renewing the Y’s legacy of serving as a haven for people facing social and economic challenges.

“We are deeply grateful for this significant investment in the historic Y in Druid Hill. It is a tangible signal to the community served by this Y that they are indeed seen and supported by our elected leaders. The infrastructure improvements enabled by these funds will allow us to greatly improve several building infrastructure issues and amenities, all of which will benefit the Druid Hill neighborhood and this Y’s loyal members,” commented John K. Hoey, President & CEO of the Y in Central Maryland.

A lifelong public servant, Parren Mitchell was a veteran of World War II and a Purple Heart recipient; a leader of civil rights organizations that combatted poverty and housing discrimination; and a member of Congress from 1971-1987, where he worked tirelessly to advance civil rights and social justice. The $500,000 direct federal investment will enable the Upton Planning Committee to restore the house and transform it into a living institution where the work that Congressman Mitchell started can continue.

“We are so grateful for the investment that Senators Cardin and Van Hollen and Congressman Mfume fought to make in Historic Upton with this project. It acknowledges the many contributions that people like the late Congressman Mitchell have made and continue to make to our community, our state and this nation”, said Wanda Gibson- Best, Executive Director of the Upton Planning Committee. “While preserving this landmark and the culture of this part of West Baltimore, we are also creating a platform for future leaders to make their mark on society as Parren Mitchell has done. It’s the start of a New Era”, she went on to say.

Senators Van Hollen and Cardin and Congressman Mfume delivered this funding as part of their broader efforts to spotlight West Baltimore’s history and renew investment in its neighborhoods. Additional federal funding awards they have secured in recent years include $1 million to transform Thurgood Marshall’s former elementary school – P.S. 103 – into a community hub; $1.75 million to convert the former law office of Juanita Jackson Mitchell into a resource center for survivors of crime and violence; $4 million to renovate the Arena Players theater, the oldest continually operating Black theater in the United States; and $2 million for planning to reconnect the communities divided by the Highway to Nowhere, among others.