Johns Hopkins Gazette: July 11, 1994

By Christine A. Rowett

The Peabody Inn has had a very good year.
    In the 12 months since it opened, the five-story
building overlooking Mount Vernon Place has received three
awards, for excellence in design, preservation and
management. The inn serves as guest and classroom space for
Peabody's Elderhostel program, part of a nonprofit network of
academic programs for people 60 and older.
    The building's most recent accolade comes from the
National Association of College and University Business
Officers, which recognized the inn with an Innovative
Management Achievement Award. Last week Jim Zeller, associate
dean for administration at Peabody, accepted the $4,500
third-place award at NACUBO's annual meeting in San
    In May, the inn was one of seven projects presented with
a Historic Preservation Award by Baltimore Heritage, a
nonprofit preservation organization in Baltimore. The
building also received an Award for Excellence in Design from
The Baltimore Chapter of the American Institute of Architects
last fall.
    "It's hard to think of anything negative about the
project," Zeller said. All of the planners' goals, including
historic renovations and saving the university money, were
met, he said. 
    When they were built in the 1840s, the four large town
houses that make up the Peabody Inn were prime residences in
the center of town. But by 1983, they were unlivable.
    The Peabody Institute bought the buildings in the 1960s
and for several years used them as private apartments for
Peabody students. The space was used solely for storage from
1983 until early 1992, when the conversion from condemned
living space to a five-story residence for Elderhostel
participants began.
    On almost any given week, the inn houses close to 100
residents, older students from across the country who join
the Elderhostel program to take classes in music, culture and
fine arts. Hostelers pay about $350 for their classes, food
and weeklong stay at the inn, Zeller said. A portion of that
fee is used to pay back the money borrowed for renovations.
    "It should become a little more profitable each year,"
Zeller said. "It was a win-win situation for everybody."
    The plans were developed in accordance with restrictions
mandated by the Baltimore Commission for Historical and
Architectural Preservation. About 18 months and more than $3
million later, the conversion was complete.
    "The thing that makes it so unique is that they really
maintained the integrity of the existing town houses," said
Anne Kefauver, Peabody assistant director for public
information. "It very much retains the flavor of what those
town houses might have been."
    Kefauver has a pretty good idea about what those town
houses were, at least in 1976. She had her first student
apartment in the Mount Vernon Place building when she was a
student at Peabody.
    "There are those of us who really know how run down they
used to be," Kefauver said. "We were just astonished at how
beautiful they turned out to be."
    The architectural firm of Murphy and Dittenhafer and the
construction company of Struever Brothers, Eccles and Rouse
were contracted for the project.

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