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Viewfinder: What About Spring Grove?

Study aims to consider development of vast mental hospital campus.

According to , state lawmakers are putting $50,000 in the budget to begin studying whether and how Spring Grove could be developed.

The 200-acre campus sits on a vast swath of state property that stretches from Frederick Road through Arbutus to Route 1. Over the years portions of the land were parceled out for UMBC, CCBC and expressways.

Founded in 1797, Spring Grove is the second-oldest continuously operating psychiatric hospital in the United States. Spring Grove still has 449 beds, the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, offices of the state Mental Health Administration, and housing for the homeless.

Although still actively in operation, most of Spring Grove is an institutional ghost town, with massive buildings shuttered and abandoned cottages.

What could be done with the property? A new hospital facility? Mixed use, with professional offices and commercial development? A new Precinct 1 police station? An expansion of UMBC?

Based on comments at Patch, developing the Spring Grove property is overdue.

mike jones March 25, 2011 at 11:21 AM
Anyone up for a ghost hunt?!
Richard Hiteshew March 25, 2011 at 12:01 PM
Get the Pitchforks and Torches ready!
Adam Cooper March 25, 2011 at 02:00 PM
I had no idea that Spring Grove was so old. The last time I went through, it definitely showed its age. I guess it really is time to redevelop the site.
Bruce Goldfarb (Editor) March 25, 2011 at 02:26 PM
I should clarify that date, Adam. According to Spring Grove's web site, the hospital originated as a respite for seamen and the destitute in 1797, and was originally located on what has become Broadway and Monument in present-day Baltimore -- roughly the location of Johns Hopkins Hospital. The state gave some property for the hospital, and it relocated to Catonsville around the Civil War.
Laura Daniels March 25, 2011 at 04:16 PM
Thanks for the clarification Bruce. I didn't realize it was that old either. I agree with Adam that it's time to do something with this land.
Jim Himel March 25, 2011 at 09:46 PM
........ maybe old, but certainly not done!! ......... Spring Grove is now about to be reborn as a mixed use community hub to serve the next generation of Catonsville residents and visitors, students and professionals, children and retirees. I am excited that the extensive Spring Grove campus will be able to accommodate not only a modern scaled down mental health facility, but is large enough to provide future UMBC, Police and other public facilities, as well as the proposed mixed use Promenade of retail, hotel and high end residential development. I am most excited that after years of quietly working on the establishment of an Arboretum in Catonsville (A program initiative of the Catonsville Heritage Foundation), the Spring Grove Campus offers a perfect site for a "Spring Grove Arboretum" an environmental education, recreation and natural area that would include existing riparian forest areas along a spring fed stream, at least two multi-use ball fields, a natural amphitheater bowl, and a nature center ....... all in an area that would complement the other public and private development mixed uses envisioned for Spring Grove. I invite you to join this community effort to help make this very exciting Arboretum initiative a reality. Jim Himel Vice President Catonsville Heritage Foundation Jim Himel is an Urban Planner and Forester and works as an Environmental Policy Consultant
George Brookhart March 26, 2011 at 01:50 AM
I like your thinking Jim. It's about time the state did something instead of letting it sit and attract rats. George Brookhart
Dawn Kluka March 26, 2011 at 07:28 PM
My husband and I often joke about contacting Ghost Hunters.
Nancy Eason March 24, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Just stumbled upon this. Jim, whatever happened following your inspiring letter above? Here we are two years later having a dialogue about the same property. Would you mind providing a brief description of the history here?

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