There’s going to be one less vacant school building in Baltimore thanks to a project unfolding in the Franklintown Road neighborhood.

The Intergenerational Center, a project by Catholic Charities of Baltimore, will bring to the former school a hub of programs and resources that serve toddlers and teens to working adults and senior citizens.

The center, which has been in the works for at least five years, will include: resources for expecting moms and families, a community kitchen, gathering spaces for community meetings, a community health clinic, a renovated indoor gym and a new exterior dome. Catholic Charities unveiled plans for the center Thursday.

Glenn Smith, a longtime West Baltimore resident whose Rosemont family was displaced by the Highway to Nowhere construction, said the portion of the neighborhood doesn’t really have an anchor institution. He supports the center opening up and has followed the progress in planning meetings for the project.

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“I think the community is very welcome. Otherwise, it would have just been another empty building in the community,” Smith said.

The Intergenerational Center is going in the former Alexander Hamilton Elementary School, which closed as part of the Baltimore school system’s 21st Century School Buildings plan after enrollment trends showed there weren’t enough students to serve three separate schools in the area, according to Sherry Christian, a Baltimore City Public Schools spokeswoman. Billie Holiday Elementary School and Katherine Johnson Global Academy were renovated to serve the combined zones.

An Intergenerational Center designed for West Baltimore is expected to have amenities and programs that serve toddlers, adults and senior citizens.
An Intergenerational Center designed for West Baltimore is expected to have amenities and programs that serve toddlers, adults and senior citizens. (Jasmine Vaughn-Hall)

Some residents feel like it’s about time the neighborhood got a center, a sign of investment.

Phyllis Strickland is one of them. She lives nearby in an apartment, but her mother previously owned a house in the neighborhood for 47 years.

“The people that’s here, we’re hanging on. We want to see it come up,” Strickland said, noting that there are so many boarded up houses in the area she’d like to see renovated.

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Kevin Creamer, director of the Intergenerational Center, said the vacancies in the area are certainly a reality, but he sees that as a potential growth area for the center.

“I hope it’s a place to come together around not just neighborhood lines but generational lines,” he said.

Construction is expected to begin in July and the plan is to open in the summer of 2025.

Catholic Charities has been working in the area for quite some time through Saint Edward Roman Catholic Church, across the street from where the center will be. There, the organization hosts Head Start, a child and family development program that helps children be better prepared for school. It’s a program that will also be present in the new center.

“We are in the midst of challenging work moving the church’s mission forward in Baltimore. It’s not a matter of if the church will be present, but how the church will be present,” said Archbishop William E. Lori at Thursday’s announcement.

The groundbreaking for the center comes after the Archdiocese of Baltimore introduced a proposal in mid-April that would reduce the number of its churches in Baltimore and areas of Baltimore County by two-thirds. Over a dozen churches in West and Southwest Baltimore will be affected if the proposal moves forward.

Jasmine Vaughn-Hall is a neighborhood and community reporter at the Baltimore Banner, covering the people, challenges, and solutions within West Baltimore. Have a tip about something happening in your community? Taco recommendations? Call or text Jasmine at 443-608-8983.

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