the Neighborhood Design Center
The Neighborhood Design Center is working with Upton Planning Committee on the restoration of the historic Parren Mitchell house in Baltimore City. Congressman Mitchell was a Civil Rights leader, Purple Heart soldier, founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the first African-American elected to Congress from Maryland.

The Neighborhood Design Center, Maryland’s nonprofit pioneer in collaborative community design, broke ground on its 4,000th project, the restoration of the historic Parren Mitchell house in Baltimore City.

The Parren Mitchell House, located in Baltimore’s Historic Upton Neighborhood, is named after the late U.S. Congressman. Parren Mitchell was the first African American elected to Congress from Maryland. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years.

During his time in Congress, Mitchell was a civil rights activist who led a tireless fight for affirmative action legislation. He co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus and was the father of the Minority Business Enterprise Programs.

The Parren J. Mitchell House is significant because it was the home of Parren Mitchell for many years. It represents the legacy of a pioneering civil rights leader and a significant chapter in American history. The structure was built in 1855 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It symbolizes the city’s rich history and cultural heritage and continues to be one of the most photographed buildings in Baltimore.

Parren Mitchell was a Civil Rights leader, Purple Heart soldier, founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the first African-American elected to Congress from Maryland.

The Upton Planning Committee (UPC) was gifted the final home of Congressman Parren Mitchell House, just north of downtown Baltimore City. UPC now oversees the landmark Parren Mitchell Mansion which pays homage to Congressman Mitchell as a cultural and political leader. Once restored, the historic site will serve as the organization’s headquarters, and an events and retreat center for Baltimore’s Harlem Park community.

Upton Planning Committee Executive Director, Wanda Best, was selected as a co-collaborator on this historic project. For more than 40 years, UPC has been a leading community organization in Central Baltimore, focusing on uplifting the quality of life in the community.

“We are excited to partner with NDC on this restoration project. Their commitment to community engagement and design excellence will ensure that the Parren Mitchell House remains a vibrant and important part of our neighborhood for years to come.”

Wanda Best, UPC Executive Director

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The Parren Mitchell House restoration project will involve a comprehensive renovation of the property’s interior and exterior design, including repairs to the roof, windows, and other structural elements. NDC will work closely with local stakeholders to ensure that the project meets the needs of the community and is sensitive to the historic character of its namesake.

The Parren Mitchell project builds on a significant relationship between Upton Planning Committee and the Neighborhood Design Center. Highlights of work to date include Streetscape and Storefront Guidelines for Pennsylvania Avenue and the Pennsylvania Avenue Welcome Center. 

“We are thrilled to have been selected to work on the restoration of the Parren Mitchell House. It is an honor to be entrusted with such an important project.”

Jennifer Goold, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Design Center

Our Approach

The primary need for the Parren Mitchell House is additional team capacity for the restoration project. The team consists of Wanda Best, Kelly Little and Jennifer Goold. Jennifer Goold brings her experience in real estate development and historic preservation to the team. The Neighborhood Design Center is helping identify potential design and construction consultants, organizing elements of the project management, and guiding coordination with the Maryland Historical Trust and State of Maryland.

The Impact

Upton Planning Committee has contracted with Quinn Evans to design the Parren Mitchell House restoration, working with Anath Ranon and Nakita Reed.  The design will fully restore the building, add a commercial kitchen at the basement level, and add a rear addition to provide full ADA accessibility.  Contractors are being identified and the team will lead an RFP process to identify the construction team. 

The team has raised almost $2 million for the project to date.  Construction, exhibitions, and furnishings are expected to be approx. $2.5 million. Construction will begin in 2024.

As NDC celebrates its 4,000th project milestone, this tremendous honor represents an important step forward in the organization’s ongoing commitment to community-led design and development.

Why this project matters

In this video, we hear from: Senator Ben Cardin, Senator of Maryland, Rev. Dr. Al Hathaway, President of African Ancestry Neuroscience Research Initiative and Senior Pastor of Union Baptist Church, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Senator of Maryland, Rev. Rodney Hudson, Pastor, and Nakita Reed, Senior Associate at Quinn Evans. These interviews were conducted by our Summer 2023 STEMcx Architecture Students.

Join us! Support the continuation of this important work.

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