- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) Baltimore has gone for five years without a museum to house its historical photographs, prints and memorabilia.
But Sunday, the fledgling Baltimore City Historical Society re-opened the last building to hold that distinction the defunct Peale Museum.
History buffs, preservationists and city enthusiasts gathered to reminisce and to ponder reviving the 189-year-old building, which also is the oldest building in the United States designed and built as a public museum.
"Above all, it is the symbol of Baltimore history and it needs to be maintained," said retired Baltimore Circuit Judge John Carroll Byrnes, also founding president of the city's 18-month-old historical society. "To lose a building like this, to have it vacant, says there's something wrong with us. There no longer is a center point for history in Baltimore."
Sunday's reception included Mayor Martin O'Malley, former Mayors Kurt Schmoke and Thomas D'Alesandro III and nearly 200 others intent on filling the void.
Bryan Stark, who works for an advertising and public relations agency, said the Peale might one day hold the city's historical treasures again and be included on a "Star-Spangled Walk," much like Boston's famed Freedom Trail.
No firm plans have been made for the three-story brick building, which needs a new electrical system, an elevator and other modifications to make it handicapped-accessible.
"When those structural things happen, then other possibilities emerge," Mr. Byrnes said. With proper security systems and climate controls, the building could also house the society's burgeoning collection of city-related books, pamphlets and magazines, he said.
Mr. Byrnes also would like to offer permanent, rotating exhibitions from the Peale's old collection. Most of the items are stored at the Maryland Historical Society.

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