For almost sixty years, the Fort Howard VA hospital in eastern Baltimore County remained open to treat veterans.
The Fort Howard Veterans Hospital sat on the site of Fort Howard, a site that saw military action dating back to the War of 1812 when the British landed thousands of men there as the precursor to the Battle of Baltimore. In August 1940 the Veterans Administration (VA) acquired the title to the fort, and began moving operations there in January 1941.
In 1943, the VA opened an inpatient hospital there; its doors stayed open until 2002, and an outpatient clinic operated there until 2016.
The clinic closed last month after it was flooded when a hot water heater exploded. As workers assessed the damage, they found mold and other structural issues that prompted the closure, said R. David Edwards, a spokesman for the VA Maryland Health Care System, in April of last year.
After closing down, the VA leased the property to two successive developers who have failed to get their redevelopment projects off the ground.
The site has fallen victim to the elements over time and vandalism. There are many who find it an interesting place for “abandonment tourism” because of the condition the building was abandoned in.
A video posted to YouTube on Jan. 25, shows parts of the hospital building still contain furniture and medical equipment still in tact.
The current developer, Timothy Munshell, proposed a senior housing and nursing home units, a hotel, retail shops and offices be built at the location. But Munshell, who holds a 75 year lease for the property, never the received necessary county zoning approvals for his project and was cited by the county for not taking proper steps to prevent repeated fires at the property.
In October of last year, Samuel K. Himmelrich Jr. of Himmelrich Associates said his company was considering a partnership Munshell but has been unable to move his development plans forward.
Himmelrich said he would convert the old hospital building, which closed in 2002, into homes, possibly for seniors, the Baltimore Sun reported. Munshell’s lease requires the development to include a 50-unit facility for veterans at risk of becoming homeless but little other obligation to remain a veteran used facility.
Himmelrich said sales and rentals of the homes would be marketed first to veterans. Several neighbors said the property should be redeveloped solely for the benefit of veterans but the VA spokesman said the use of the site significantly declined in its last years.
Edwards said it no longer makes sense to have a clinic at Fort Howard, which is located in an out-of-the-way area without public transportation. 2,700 patients used the clinic in 2015, down from more than 7,200 in 2008.
There is no timeline for making a decision, and until then, the site will continue to be unused.
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