WBAL and other news outlets are reporting that a vacant home collapsed on top of a parked car earlier today in the 900 block of N Payson Street. The man who was in the car was died after being pulled out, according to WBAL.
The house, 900 N Payson Street, is listed as being owned by a Eugene D. Boykins of the same address. However, Mr. Boykins died in 1999. Two shell companies used by disbarred attorneys John Reiff, Anthony DeLaurentis, and John Reid purchased the tax lien on the property, and a judgement foreclosing right of redemption was issued in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on February 6, 2013.
Of course the home could have been sold since the attorneys took possession, but when deeds are not properly recorded, not only do the state and city lose the recording fees and transfer taxes, owners of blighted property are able to remain in the shadows and therefore escape any accountability when things go wrong with their properties.
Update: In case you don’t read the comments under each blog post, John Reiff and Anthony Delaurentis were both reinstated to the Maryland Bar by the Court of Appeals on March 25 of this year.
Sadly, the ownership chain for this property is completely convoluted. It was foreclosed on at one point, then it appears to have been purchased in a tax sale in the late 1990s, then it was condemned by the City in 2004.
However, it did have one notable occupant, and it’s a wonderful little home, tucked inside a row and set back from the sidewalk.
The home was once lived in by a Mr. John B. Sanks, whose colorful obituary graced the pages of the Afro-American in 1911. Mr. Sanks was born in 1831, and his obituary is as follows:
Mr. John B. Sanks Passes Away
John B. Sanks, one of the best known of the older Masons in the city, died at his home, 1144 Argyle avenue, Thursday afternoon of last week, after a lingering illness.
He was born in Northumberland county, va., nearly 75 years ago.
He came to Baltimore at an early age, and had been connected with Sharp Street Memorial M. E. Church since 1861. For seventeen consecutive years he as superintenent of the Sunday School and had filled about every official position in the church. He was also a member of various departments of the Masonic fraternity. Over 28 years ago he served as grand master for Maryland and was one of the delegates to the Masonic centennial celebration in Philadelphia.
The deceased is survived by his wife, Mrs. Mary A. Sanks, one daughter, Mrs. William I. Butler, Jr., and several grandchildren.
The funeral services at Sharp St. Church Monday afternoon were largely attended. The opening prayer was by Rev. Dr. I. L. Thomas and the Scripture lesson was read by Rev. C. G. Cummings. After brief eulogies by Revs. E. W. S. Peck, and N. M. Carroll, Rev. W. A. C. Hughes delivered the funeral oration. The life and services of the deceased were extolled by the pastor, and the departed was eulogized as one of the most zealous of the members of the church.
The Masonic fraternity under the leadership of Grand Master Thomas Jones conducted the services peculiar to their order. The Grand Lodge, Blue Lodge, Knights Templar and Royal Arch Chapter and Odd Fellows were represented.
This is a curious old building, tucked away in a residential neighborhood that’s home to some blighted blocks, an apartment complex, and a new-ish suburban-looking subdivision.
On further research, it turns out that this property might be the oldest school building in Baltimore City, built in 1858. A shame that once again, the city has allowed a piece of Baltimore history to rot away.
The original building received an addition in 1882, which was found somewhat unsatisfactory when reported in the “Reports of the City Officers and Departments”:
The addition, made to No. 18 Primary School, on Argyle avenue near Lanvale street, is now occupied by the school, and supplies accommodations which have long been needed. In the Male Department, though, the lighting has been seriously impaired by the addition. This could have been avoided by putting the stairway at the north end of the building instead of putting it between the old and new portions. Now, it is necessary to improve the light in the rooms of the old building, which are adjacent to the addition.”