A Modern Office for the Baltimore Archdiocese
The stylish Catholic Center building at the southwest corner of Mulberry and Cathedral Streets has been an important administrative office for the Baltimore Archdiocese for fifty years. The eight-story structure was designed by architect John F. Eyring with details, including granite and limestone clad walls and bronzed window trim, selected to complement the Central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library on the opposite side of Mulberry Street.
The site, formerly occupied by the old Calvert Hall College High School, attracted numerous onlookers during construction not for the modern architecture of the building but the unusual tower crane employed by general contractor Kirby & McGuire. Invented in Germany in 1949, self-erecting tower cranes were still remained an unusual sight in Baltimore when the Copenhagen-built crane went to work in the early 1960s.
The three-million-dollar, eight-story structure was completed in early 1965 and, on November 7, dedicated by Bishop T. Austin Murphy. The cornerstone of the building held copies of the Catholic Review from the day of the building's completion. The new office hosted Catholic priests, church hierarchy, lay men and women who had previously worked at offices and churches scattered across the city.
Since it opened, the building has been used for exhibitions, meetings, and many other religious and community events up through the present. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Movement Against Destruction, a coalition of Black and white community groups fighting against the construction of the East-West Expressway, met weekly on Monday evenings at the Catholic Center to share information and plan protests. While the city eventually built a portion of the proposed highway (now officially known as I-170 and unofficially as the "Highway to Nowhere"), the coalition successfully stopped the demolition of hundreds of homes in the west Baltimore neighborhood of Rosemont and in southeast Baltimore.