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Baltimore gets $50,000 grant for theatre

BALTIMORE- Before interior improvements continue on the Baltimore Theatre, its outside needs work, said Baltimore Mayor Robert Kalish.

The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission approved a $50,000 grant for exterior improvements. “It does take a long time” to secure such grants, he said, adding that Village Administrator Marsha Hall and others spent nearly two years acquiring it. Kalish said, “(Hall) spent countless hours,” as did Baltimore Downtown Restoration Committee Chair Judith Cosgray.

Kalish said the village plans to use the $50,000 for tuckpointing (repairing mortar joints in the structure’s brick walls) and chimney repair. He hopes other potential investors will take notice. “This puts us on the radar screen for private funding,” said Kalish.

Kalish thanked Ohio Senator Tim Schaffer and Ohio Representative Gerald Stebelton, who recommended the project for the grant. “We appreciate their support in these trying times,” said Kalish.

According to the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, the Baltimore Theatre, also called the Baltimore Town Hall, is an Italianate structure built in 1905 to serve the village’s administrative and social needs by housing administrative offices on its ground level, a theatre on its main level, and meeting space for the Baltimore Lodge on the top floor. Today, administrative offices remain on the ground floor, while the theatre and meeting space need major renovation.

Hall said through the years the building was home to several business ventures ranging from a chicken feather cleaning operation, to an opera company, and a movie theatre. The second floor, a theatre with a balcony, offered operas, plays, and movies.

The Baltimore Lodge owned the third floor and met there until the Village of Baltimore purchased the building in 1992 to preserve it. In later years, the Millersport Community Theatre previewed its plays, open houses were held during the Baltimore Festival, and “Trick or Treat Theatre” attracted nearly 1,000 people to the building.

In other Baltimore news:

• Hall said the May 7 Baltimore Clean Up Day “went fairly well.” She said, “We would’ve liked to have seen more properties take advantage, but we plan on doing it again in the fall.” The clean up day was established partially as a result of the implementation of a Rental and Vacant Property Maintenance program. Village council members and administrators are increasingly concerned about a rise in the number of deteriorating rental and vacant properties, and property maintenance issues within the village in general. Village administrators met with some of these property owners owners April 26 for discussion.

Since then, “we have actually seen an increase in property maintenance complaints, but that’s to be expected,” said Hall. “I think the publicity about the program has helped to encourage neighbors to get involved.” She said she’s handled 40 complaints so far this year, which nearly matches the 42 complaints received in 2009. “Last year we handled 67, so I think we will see a sharp increase this year,” said Hall.

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