A landmark building in Mt. Vernon which once served as lodging for wealthy travelers and celebrities is now a home for Hopkins students.
Stafford Apartments, located only a block from Peabody at 716 N. Washington Pl., overlooks the historic Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon.
The university purchased the Stafford in an effort to provide upperclassmen and graduate students with affordable housing in the area. While Peabody guarantees housing for freshmen and sophomores in its one residence hall, most juniors and seniors move off campus into apartments or town houses.
Associate Dean of Student Affairs Emily Frank said that this acquisition involved quite a bit of foresight. "In our area, property values are going up because Mt. Vernon is a highly desirable neighborhood. We wanted to ensure that Peabody students had good, affordable housing," explained Frank.
About two years ago, David McDonough, Senior Director of Development Oversight for Johns Hopkins Real Estate, and Peabody Director Robert Sirota, began discussing the issue of student housing in the area.
In addition, market studies were performed during the course of the Stafford deal, comparing the market around and outside of Peabody.
"As [Sirota] had expected, things were getting much tighter and it would be much more difficult for Hopkins to control its own destiny in the housing marketplace," noted McDonough.
Formerly known as the Stafford Hotel, the building was constructed in 1894 and designed by architect Charles E. Cassell, whose work includes many religious, commercial and residential buildings in Baltimore. When it originally opened in November of the same year, it was considered one of the finest in the city.
In the early 20th Century, the hotel accommodated wealthy and famous guests including F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose wife Zelda was being treated at the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Once bigger hotels in the city were built in the middle of the century, however, the hotel became more of a family destination.
Finally, in 1972, the building's 117 guest rooms were converted to 94 apartment units for low-income residents.
Although the interior has been modernized, the historic architecture of the exterior remains, its Richardsonian style featuring a red stone and brick fa??ade and pillars.
The University has performed extensive cosmetic repairs on the interior, including new carpeting, lighting, painting and vinyl floors in each room.
Next summer, even further repairs will be done, including elevator and plumbing work that will require residents to vacate their apartments for three months.
While the University purchased the building and refers students, the apartments are being leased and managed by AIMCO, the largest owner/operator of apartment properties in the U.S. According to Building Manager Sabrina Carrington, the building will feature a complimentary continental breakfast on weekdays, in addition to hosting a number of dorm-style activities, such as an international cuisine night, a Mardi Gras party and a relaxation day.
The Stafford also offers furbished apartments and is equipped with security cameras and a keycard and buzzer access system. Twenty-four-hour maintenance is also available to all residents.
Because nine-month leases are currently the only type available, there are still about 60 open spots in the building, which is giving preference to Hopkins students.
Rates range from $669-$894 for one-bedroom and $919-$1,079 for two bedrooms.
"We're very excited about this opportunity," said Frank. "It's a great idea to have available housing that is specifically tailored to the student population."