Eagle marks 30 years on North Center Place
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 12:26

Offices moved into Reier House in 1982

by Nicole Rodman
(from 1982 article by Betsy Oelke)

This month, The Dundalk Eagle marks its 30th year operating out of Reier House, at 4 North Center Place in the Dundalk Village Shopping Center.
    Prior to November of 1982, The Eagle worked out of offices at 38 N. Dundalk Avenue (now Safa Pizza).alt
    While Kimbel Publications, Inc. did not move into the building until November of 1982, the house has a long and colorful history dating back to its construction in 1927.
    In an article published in the November 4, 1982 issue of The Dundalk Eagle, writer Betsy Oelke took a look at the history of Reier House in a piece titled “Reier House History Outlined: Historic Designation Sought for New Eagle Offices.”
    The article features interviews with a number of local figures familiar with the history of the house, including one of the first residents – Mrs. Sadie Reier. Reier died in 1989 at the age of 101.

The article began with Reier recalling the times she trudged through the snow during flu season to help her husband make an average of 35 house calls a day when he was one of Dundalk’s busiest physicians, back in the 1920s.
    “We didn’t have an automobile back then,” recalled Reier, who was 94 at the time of the interview in 1982.
    Her husband, Dr. Adam W. Reier, not only built one of the most prominent medical practices in Dundalk, but also constructed one of this area’s most prominent homes.
    Situated at the northern end of the Dundalk Village Shopping Center square, Reier House was built on 4 Center Place (now 4 North Center Place) in 1927 for $13,000.
    Since that time, it has at various times housed two physician’s practices, the offices of Dundalk Community College, Dundalk District Court and Baltimore County government offices.
    In 1982, after government offices had moved from the building, the county sold the house in an an effort to get rid of surplus property.
    At public auction that year, The Dundalk Eagle purchased the house  for $185,000 and opened its offices there in November.
    On Tuesday, Nov. 16, 1982, Kimbel Publications petitioned the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission to put the building on its Historical Sites List. (The house was later added as number 125 on the list).
    While researching the house’s history for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, John McGrain, then-executive secretary of the commission, noted that the Reier House was built on a 200-by-110-foot lot purchased from the old Dundalk Company, then a subsidiary of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
    In Dundalk Then & Now, published by the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society in 1980, local historians noted that  the outbreak of World War I and the demand for new ships from Bethlehem Steel forced the company to supply housing for its new employees.
    As Dundalk grew after the war, so, too, did its need for physicians.
    Dr. Adam Reier had graduated from the University of Maryland Medical School in 1916 before serving with the U.S. Army at an evacuation hospital in France during World War I.
    Once discharged, Reier movied to Dundalk and set up a medical practice in an upstairs office at 13 Dundalk Ave.
    After establishing another office at 1 Kinship Road, Dr. Reier purchased the property across the street on Center Place.
    Though a prominent Baltimore architect designed the home and construction was carried out by the area’s leading builder, Reier oversaw the whole operation.
    “He knew just what he wanted,” Mrs. Reier recalled in 1982.
    What he got was a three-story brick Southern manorial-style home with a slate roof and columned front portico. The front entrance hall extended the width of the building and was graced by a mahogany-bannistered stairway that led to second-floor bedrooms.
    A sun porch with a stone fireplace was built on the west wing of the building while the physician’s office, waiting room and bathroom were built on the opposite end. The house was built apart from other nearby structures, with the front facing south across what is now Veterans Park.
    The basic design of the building has remained the same ever since.
    Dr. Reier retired from his practice in 1944 due to poor health. He died in 1947.
    Sadie Reier lived in the house until 1960 when she moved to Broadmead, a nursing home in Baltimore County. She lived there at the time of her interview with The Eagle in 1982.
    In 1960, Reier sold the house to another local physician, Dr. Jack Collins, for $36,800.
    After Collins’ death, his widow sold the house to Baltimore County in 1967 for $65,000.
    While the county prepared the Dundalk Community College site, Reier House was used by the school as an administration building until the college was completed in 1971.
    Two years earlier, the county government was making improvements to its satellite offices. A courtroom and lockup was added to the eastern wing of Reier House to lessen the crowding at the Dundalk Police Station where the court had formerly been located.
    The new addition, designed to match the existing architecture, was also brick with a slate roof.
    In a 1982 interview with former state delegate and county councilman Lou DePazzo, he recalled his days as a court magistrate in the building’s courtroom.
    As DePazzo, who died in June of 2010, recalled, the room was lined with long windows with sills only about 3 feet from the floor.
    One warm spring day, while the windows were open, DePazzo sentenced a man to six months in jail for a minor crime.
    As DePazzo recalled, “The guy jumped out of the window. They caught up with him about five or six years later somewhere in West Virginia.”
    In 1971, when the county switched over the the current district court system, the courtroom was moved to another building across Dundalk Avenue. The room was then taken over by the Baltimore County Department of Social Services.
    During the county’s tenure at Reier House, the Department of Licenses & Permits and the county councilman also had offices in the building.
    In an interview with The Eagle in 1982, then-councilman John O’Rourke, who had his headquarters in the home’s sun porch for seven years, said it would be hard to find any ghosts rattling around the then-55-year-old house. (O’Rourke died in Florida in January of 2011).
    The only skeleton anyone may come up with is that of an old police dog, Nick.
    As Portship Road resident Irene White (now deceased) told The Eagle in 1982, she remembered Dr. Reier making house calls on Thanksgiving Day in 1942.
    “He was a doctor for 90 percent of the people in this town,” proclaimed the then-88-year-old White.
    He was apparently also a pet lover.
    As White recalled, “Nick was buried in the backyard with a headstone that was there for years and years until the county took it out.”
    Since The Eagle began operating out of Reier House in November of 1982, there have been many changes for the newspaper — and even more for the staff.
     In 1989, computers were added for the first time. Founder Kimbel Oelke died in 1998 and his wife, cofounder Mary Oelke, died in 2010.
    Yet, through all of the changes, since 1982 two constants have remained:  the mission of The Dundalk Eagle and the site at which it is carried out — Reier House at 4 North Center Place.