The View from the Sage Center Roof

Categories: The Sage Center - Family Recovery Program

Yesterday I dropped by The Sage Center/St. Katharine’s to see what had changed since my last visit on July 2nd. They’ve been moving along so briskly that I’m afraid they’ll start moving tenants in before I have a chance to photograph the completed project. Pat Irwin, the site manager, gave me a master key and told me to wander wherever I liked. In the third floor corridor I spotted an open door and these stairs.stair to roofI could not resist. I had never been up to the roof. Of course, as an employee of the development team, I’m really only interested in the structure itself and the equipment, right?

AC control box

AC units and control box

ACs looking south

But then I noticed some interesting architecture in the background.


Break out the long lens.

American Brewery close

The American Brewery Building built in 1887 and now owned by Humanim is a jewel in East Baltimore.

City college

Baltimore City College is the third oldest public high school in the US and among it’s many famous alumni is Michael Phelps who we hope will win even more gold at the Rio Olympics next month. The building in the picture was built in 1926-28.

view of Downtown

There are other great views from the roof of the Sage Center and I’ll share more at a later date. Many of these views can be seen from the resident’s apartments on the floors below. Nice.

A Visit to Highmark Caring Place

Categories: Roberta's House
Grieving Children at Camp Erin

Group Session

This past Monday EHC Executive Director, Dan McCarthy, accompanied Annette March-Grier, Executive Director of Roberta’s House, and Paulina Beeche and Laura Penza of Penza-Baliey Architects to Highmark Caring Place in Harrisburg on a tour and fact finding mission. The reason for this trip was to see their facility and, more importantly, how they provide services to their clients. Their clients are very special. Highmark Caring Place is center for grieving children and their families who have experienced the loss of a parent or loved one.


Our client, Roberta’s House, has been providing similar services in Baltimore since 2007 albeit from leased space. Roberta’s house is an outgrowth of the March Funeral Homes, one of the largest African American family owned funeral home companies in the United States with operations in Baltimore City, Washington DC and Richmond, Va. Roberta’s House is named after Julia Roberta March, the co-founder and matriarch of March Funeral Homes.


Julia Roberta March

Last year, Annette March-Grier contracted with EHC to begin work on building a new facility designed for and dedicated solely to creating a caring, open environment for those who have recently experienced the death of a family member or close friend and particularly those who have been impacted by Baltimore’s high homicide rate. The new facility will be located on East North Avenue on land that was the original location of the first March Funeral Home.

Site of the Fist March Funeral Home

Site of the Fist March Funeral Home

Much of what both Roberta’s House and Highmark Caring Place do is to provide space where people who are grieving can come together to share their feelings about loss and discover that they are not alone in their experience.  Trained volunteers and staff act as facilitators encouraging participants to share their emotions with the eventual goal of having individuals realize that their feelings, though unique to them, are nonetheless normal. One of the most effective aspects of both programs is dividing the families up into peer support groups. Young children, adolescents and adults all process loss differently and grouping participants by age allows them to more readily see how their peers are reacting under similar circumstances and creates a more comfortable environment for them to express their own emotions.

Roberta’s House offers several programs that are unique by necessity. As Baltimore City continues to rank near the top of US metropolitan areas for homicides per capita and given that March Funeral Home originated in an area of the city severely impacted by homicide, Roberta’s House offers programming specifically targeted towards surviving family members and others victimized by homicide. The Survivor Advocacy Program provides support and assistance to families immediately following a homicide helping to navigate the often traumatic steps of identifying the victim, retrieving personal possessions and notifying others. Associates can also assess survivors and provide early crisis intervention connecting survivors with various resources as needed. The Rays of Hope Program is a 10 week program that brings surviving family members together to explore new roles and ways of coping with a goal of strengthening the family unit. Changing the Game is a peer support group for at risk teens that have experienced often multiple losses and may either have a history of offenses with the court or are extreme risk becoming offenders. The Homicide Transformation Project will provide bereavement support for African American adults from low income communities. All of these programs have the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of violence that is often evidenced in individuals  that suffer from unresolved grief.

The creation of a facility designed specifically for Roberta’s House programming will allow it to serve a greater swath of the target population and to run those programs concurrently as needed. Additionally, there will be community spaces available that will serve to strengthen the community as a whole and hopefully further reduce the violence that results from lack of opportunity and privilege. Episcopal Housing Corporation is proud to be working with Roberta’s House and the March family to make a better place for all.

BTW There is a great radio segment from This American Life about a similar program in Salt Lake City. Give it a listen.

St. Katharine’s Still Ahead of Schedule

Categories: The Sage Center - Family Recovery Program - Tags: , , ,

On July 1st I was in the neighborhood so I dropped by St. Katharine’s, the former Catholic school on Rose Street in East Baltimore we’re renovating into apartments and program space for the Family Recovery Program. I caught Pat Irwin, the site manager for Southway Builders, just as he was closing up for the July the 4th holiday. He graciously allowed me to run through the building with my camera to see what had changed since my last visit.  The work has been progressing from the top down so I first went to the third floor and was greeted by this sign:

do not enter-final cleaning

Three months ago this is what one of the most complete apartments looked like:

3rd floor apartment 1

A month and a half ago this is what one of the apartment kitchens looked like:

new cabintes

I managed to find a finished apartment that had not yet been cleaned and sealed and here’s the kitchen:


and the living room. Check out those floors!

floor and windows

Southway Builders has been relentless on the renovation since the closing in December and it shows in that the project has been increasingly ahead of schedule despite a few setbacks and surprises. The Family Recovery Program is so confident that they’ve already sent out invitations to the ribbon cutting in late September. Given Southway’s track record on this project, it’s likely that some families will have moved in before the official ribbon cutting.

The Club at Collington Square

Categories: Collington Square Kids Club

a more or less orderly row


Last Friday I was over at our Mura Street Oxford House assessing a broken clothes dryer. While I was there the brouhaha in the street outside kept drawing me away from my work and out to the front porch. The four rowhouses next door are occupied by The Club at Collington Square an after-school and summer youth program serving kindergarten through 5th grade kids living in the Collington Square neighborhood in East Baltimore and run by Episcopal Community Services of Maryland.  The staff had blocked off the street in front of the Club and had the kids engaged in a variety of games that all seemed to involve a great amount of running and yelling.

EHC has been involved with the Club since it’s inception. We combined and renovated the four adjacent rowhouses that serve as their program space back in 2008.



In 2012 we added a commercial teaching kitchen to provide training to those seeking to enter the foodservice industry and to provide neighborhood youth and adults with education on healthy food choices and preparation.



Recently, we’ve been asked to explore incorporating the last remaining rowhouse on the west side of the Club into the facility. Seems they need to expand a bit and if the additional kids they serve are anything like the ones I met the other day (and I’m sure they will be) it’s going to be a noisy fun neighborhood.


an_advancing_army with arrow

Finally starting to actually build things

Categories: Brinkley Hill - Tags: , , , ,

In January we broke ground on the Brinkley Hill project. Brinkley Hill is our latest collaboration with Conifer Realty . When completed it will provide 64 two and three bedroom mixed income rental townhomes for working families in southern Prince Georges County. The majority of the units will be available to families with incomes at or below 60% of area median income although some units will be available to families with incomes as low as 30% AMI and and some with no upper limit on income.

For the first five months the majority of the work was site preparation, clearing land and moving dirt around. Here’s what the site looked like in early February:

panorama facing south 2016-02-01

And below is  pretty much the same shot from early in June.

panorama of site from above

The buildings in the top left of the June photo are just barely visible through the trees in the February photo. So, yeah, there’s been a lot of what the site manger calls “redistribution of soil.”

redistribution of soil

But we’re here to talk about building things. Brinkley Hill is not a name that we pulled out of a hat. As you can see from the two panoramic photos above the site is on a substantial hill and building on hills begets retaining walls. Brinkley Hill will have four major retaining walls. Conifer started with wall #4.  At the progress meeting on May 16th construction had barely begun.

retaining wall number 4 prebuild panorama

retaining wall number 4 grading on left

retaining wall number 4 first course

Two weeks later, all done!

retaining wall number 4 n-e cascade better

And #3 is getting started:

retaining wall number 3 overview

And two weeks after that, #3 is done:

retaining wall number 3 panorama

And while they were at it, #2 all but gets finished!

retaining wall number 2 in progress

So, we’re finally getting some structures on the ground and once the walls are done buildings are going to start popping up. Stay tuned.


Episcopal Housing’s First Ever Blog Post

Categories: Inside Episcopal Housing Corporation


Painted Cinderblocks in St. Katharine’s Basement

Pictured above is an interesting photograph taken just before the renovations began at St. Katharine’s School back in early January. It’s been sitting in our photo archives waiting for an opportunity to make it’s way into the wider world and that opportunity as arrived. For the past several years we at EHC have been using our Facebook page to keep our readers updated about our projects, news and other items of interest. However, as Facebook has evolved away from longer articles, we’ve decided to incorporate a blog into our website. With a blog we’ll be able explore subjects in depth, maintain an easily retrievable timeline on projects and add photos and captions in a more intuitive manner. We will still be using our Facebook page but mainly to bring readers to this site. We promise we will try to keep it interesting and give our readers a behind the scenes look at Episcopal Housing’s projects, the people involved and the partners that make it all happen.