Harry Connolly

The conversion of a shuttered Baltimore cotton mill into a mixed-use community has taken big steps toward helping preserve America’s industrial past.

The result, Mount Vernon Mill No. 1, is a stunning new community comprising 84 units, two restaurants, and 50,000 square feet of office space. In addition, five of the units are affordable housing, to address the city’s need for more homes for low-income renters.

The building is highly visible from the expressway, with the Mill No. 1 sign having become a recognizable landmark for travelers driving through Baltimore. An outdoor courtyard includes dining areas, an overlook, and a boardwalk area so residents can appreciate the beauty of the on-site stream.

During reconstruction, the large windows of the mill, which was built in 1847, presented the team with a challenge: About 350 of them had to be re-created based on historical documentation for the project to receive historic tax credits.

But preserving history wasn’t the only focus of the reuse project. The plan also involved restoring part of the Jones Falls stream that runs through the property. In addition to doing the initial stream restoration, developer Terra Nova has vowed to continue collaborating with local water groups to keep the stream clean. The company has also helped involve residents in twice-a-year cleanup days.