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St. Agnes to buy Cardinal Gibbons site

Nearly two years to the date that the Archdiocese of Baltimore announced the closing of Cardinal Gibbons School, executives at St. Agnes Hospital announced they had purchased the site to develop a mixed-use service project in Catonsville.

Hospital officials had denied for a year and a half that they were interested in the former site of the school, which closed following the 2010 academic year amid protests from students, family and alumni.

St. Agnes officials said Friday a renewed interest in the property began in December 2011.

“It has always been the hope of St. Agnes Hospital that the Cardinal Gibbons property would retain a Catholic identity and continue to complement our community, remaining a vibrant part of ‘Caton Corner,’” said William Greskovich, vice president of operation and capital projects at St. Agnes.

“After the archdiocese determined other offers did not satisfy their desire to create an environment that is respectful and inclusive of the surrounding community, St. Agnes agreed to meet with the archdiocese in December 2011. Saint Agnes is uniquely positioned to preserve the historic nature of this land and create a true asset for our community.”

Shareese N. Churchill, spokeswoman for St. Agnes, said a purchase price had not been disclosed.

The school was closed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore following during a restructuring of Catholic schools in the metropolitan area. It is located at 3225 Wilkens Ave., across the street from the hospital.

“For 150 years, Saint Agnes Hospital has been committed to creating an environment that benefits the community we serve,” Bonnie Phipps, president and CEO of St. Agnes, said Friday. “We are fortunate that our neighbors, the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Catholic Charities share the same commitment and values.”

St. Agnes will develop the Cardinal Gibbons property as a vibrant space, expanding services to its existing community, Phipps said. The hospital has met with members of the community “to ensure the creation of an environment that is respectful to those who left their fingerprint on this community,” a release from St. Agnes said.

In addition, St. Agnes executives will begin a study about the future of the site with potential partners that include Catholic Charities, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and Cardinal Gibbons alumni.

The goal of the redevelopment is to create a space that is inviting, welcoming and supportive to all community members, hospital officials said.

One option includes a courtyard commemorating James Cardinal Gibbons and a nod to the baseball history at the site. Hall of Famer Babe Ruth once played at the baseball diamond at the St. Mary’s Industrial School, located at what became Cardinal Gibbons High School in 1962. The turf is named Babe Ruth Field.

Baltimore-born James Cardinal Gibbons served as Archbishop of Baltimore from 1877 until his death in 1921. In 1886, he became the second American to be elevated to cardinal.

Other options include creation of recreational community space, an office building and housing for hospital and community residents.

“St. Agnes is committed to providing a space that brings additional benefits to the community,” said Greskovich. “And we expect to continue to engage our neighbors in the months and years ahead to ensure complementary uses of this historical land.”


One comment

  1. Amazing. The Archdiocese closed my high school and lied to us about the reasons behind their decision; St. Agnes lied to us two years ago when they said they had no interest in the property. The reasons this Church is wrought with scandal has little or nothing to do with it’s policy against priests being married or because woman can’t be priests; it’s because as an institution it wholesales in lying to its members: Indulgences, the Inquisition, to the sex scandal each one was rooted in a lie to Catholics. And while no one was physically or mentally tormented by closing Cardinal Gibbons, I know for sure there is a young man like me, someone who needed a little more direction, discipline and belief in my abilities, who lost the opportunities I have because of CGHS and because the Church put profit ahead of its mission.