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The Fate of the Old Catonsville Elementary School Building

Jami Citko, Staff

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This summer, Catonsville Elementary School moved into what used to be the Bloomsbury Community Center, leaving behind a vacant, vintage building.

Established in 1909, the old building has endured 107 years as a school and has previously been used for ages 4-18. It has most recently been used as Catonsville Elementary School for grades pre-kindergarten though 5th grade. Due to overcrowding and lack of proper air conditioning, the school moved everything to a new location in June.

The fate of the old building is still undetermined.

Back in February of 2014, there was talk of the site becoming a community center to replace the Bloomsbury Center, but that idea has since been abandoned.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore County Arts Guild launched an effort to buy the building in March of 2015, planning to turn it into an arts center. The county was in support of the idea, but informed them that they would have one year to raise $9 million for renovations. By March 2016 they had not met their goal, and President Marylin Maitland would not reveal how much they had raised.

Despite this apparent failure, the Arts Guild still has a shot to turn this run-down building into a community based center for creativity and are working towards gaining support.

The Guild has been making appearances at local Catonsville events such as Frederick Road Fridays and the Catonsville Arts and Crafts Festival to raise money and get the word out about their goals. They also have a page set up online for donations.

Many of those who know about the Guild’s idea are in favor of it. The problem is that not many people are aware of their plans to take over the building.

“It would be really cool to have an arts center there…we don’t have anything like that in Catonsville now,” Eden Beyene, sophomore at CHS and graduate of Catonsville Elementary remarked.

Located in the heart of Catonsville, the building is in a prime location for a community-based center for the arts or other recreation. An arts center would provide opportunities for many Catonsville residents and allow them to be creative.

“Looking around nowadays a lot of people have a lot of talent but they just don’t have somewhere to go that they can express themselves or get inspired,” Sharon Kalb, graduate of CES and current sophomore at CHS expressed. “I think a lot of people would go there, and I would too.”

If the Arts Guild or another organization does not raise enough money, the space could become anything—even brand new. Because it is not considered an official historical site, the building could be demolished. Many Catonsville residents express their wishes to keep the building, yet no organization has been able raise enough money to carry out this goal.

Catonsville residents feel strongly about the building being renovated. A group called Friends of the Former Catonsville Elementary School has been working to raise money in order to save the building. A meeting will be held on November 22nd to talk about their plans.

Graduates of Catonsville Elementary feel that the building is an important part of Catonsville’s history.

“I really think they should consider the history that has gone down there and how many generations have gone through that building,” Kalb said. “My family in general…spent so many hours at that school. My brother went to that school, my dad even went…it’s somewhere that rests in my heart.”

The county has declared its will to keep the site community-based and have not revealed any intentions to tear it down, but also have not announced any other plans for the building. Until the issues of money can be resolved, the fate of this antique site remains in discussion.

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The Fate of the Old Catonsville Elementary School Building