January 23, 2018 – The highly successful, seven-year “New Beginnings” capital campaign for CCBC Catonsville raised more than $57 million for the college and was celebrated at the ribbon cutting following Lewis Contractors’ restoration of the campus’ iconic Hilton Mansion. This $6.5 million, nearly two-year project brings new life to the historic home which overlooks the Patapsco River Valley and serves as the primary gateway to the college campus. The dedication of the restored building—now called Hilton Center—was a celebration featuring festive music and gourmet fare with hundreds of donors in attendance to mark the 60th anniversary of this nationally renowned institution.
Led by College President Dr. Sandra Kurtinitis, the official ribbon cutting marked the Hilton Center as the new home for CCBC’s Honors Program and Center for Global Education. The mansion will also provide meeting and exhibit space for the Catonsville Historical Society, and a new exhibit will give voices to the slaves and indentured workers who helped to build the mansion and work its surrounding land.
Lewis Contractors’ work at Hilton Mansion included removal of the “modern” finishes installed during the 1970’s renovation, preservation of the historic crown moldings and baseboards, restoration of the windows, restoration of the mahogany paneling, installation of a new elevator, ADA compliance work and restoration of the quarry tile and historic marble checkerboard flooring. This work and the new energy efficient heating/ventilation/air conditioning systems, new electrical service and fixtures, restoration of the home’s exterior and installation of the new brick paver entryway have restored the home to its position as the crown jewel of the college campus.
Hilton Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and is also listed on Baltimore and Maryland’s historic registries. Situated on a 1678 land grant in Baltimore County, the original stone farmhouse was completed in 1825 as the first structure on the site. Purchasing the property in 1827, Dr. Lennox Birckhead, Fort McHenry patriot in the 1814 Battle of Baltimore, named the property Hilton because of its high elevation. His original mansion house is believed to have been completed between 1828 and 1835. Privately held until 1905, Hilton Mansion had fallen into disrepair until its sale in 1917 and completion of its 1919 technologically advanced renovation. This renovation transformed Dr. Birckhead’s mansion into the more than 14,000 SF, four-story Georgian Revival house one sees today.
Five bays in length, two and a half stories above its high ground floor, with its slate gambrel roof, the original parlors, formal living room, formal dining room, library, bedroom suites and servants’ quarters, Hilton Center has been completely restored and converted to offices and seminar rooms which will be used for lectures, meetings and social events. As a part of Lewis’ renovation, the home now includes a warming kitchen and ancillary necessities for catered events. This part of the house will also be used as a part of the college’s food services curriculum and, as part of the restoration, finishes used throughout the second floor were chosen by students from CCBC’s interior design program.
Well-known for her innovative programs, Dr. Kurtinitis has been described as having “broken the mold for community college fund raising”—perhaps one of the reasons the campaign exceeded its original goal by more than 24%. And, just on the heels of this very successful project with Lewis, Kurtinitis has been named as the incoming President of the American Association for Community Colleges.