Towson’s Wayside Cross memorial is getting a face-lift thanks to Circle East developer Retail Properties of America Inc. (RPAI), according to Councilman David Marks, who represents the area.
The memorial’s new surroundings, which will include landscaping and a miniature plaza, will be unveiled at a rededication ceremony on Memorial Day.
“We wanted to draw attention to the monument,” Marks said. “It is one of the most historic elements of downtown Towson. It’s a reminder of old and important values, even as we have all of this growth and change going on around it.”
The Wayside Cross was built by the county and dedicated in September 1921, according to the Maryland Historical Trust. On it are the names of more than 200 people who served in World War I.
The rededication ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. May 27 at the corner of York Road and Shealy Avenue. It will honor veterans, their families and “those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Towson American Legion chaplain Vernon Crider in a press release.
Marks said the ceremony will also include the burial of a time capsule in which mementos of life in 2019 will be stored for people a century later, in 2119, to discover.
Nick Over, vice president and director of development for RPAI, said to his knowledge the monument itself was in good shape, but its surroundings — rusted flagpoles, chain fencing, broken lighting — “made it look like it had been forgotten.”
The renovations include landscaping, new lighting and flagpoles and a miniature plaza with an outdoor seating area adjacent to the retail area set to open in the newly renovated Circle East.
“It’s a little oasis spot for people to sit, have a cup of coffee or eat a burger from one of the restaurants we eventually open there,” Over said.
Over said construction on the area began around the start of May and will be substantially completed by Memorial Day. He said he did not know how much the project will cost because it is part of Circle East’s broader sidewalk and landscaping plan.
Victor Brice, a Towson American Legion member and part of the committee that coordinated the monument renovation, said the 16-inch time capsule, which he ordered on Amazon, will be filled with mementos of life today in Towson so people in 100 years can see “what traditions carried over, what stood the test of time and what did not.”
Objects planned for the time capsule include an American Legion banner celebrating the organization’s 100th birthday in 2019; when people open the capsule, it will be the American Legion’s 200th year, Brice said, something that gives him “goosebumps.”
The capsule will also include May newsletters from the local Elks Lodge, American Legion and Chamber of Commerce, Brice said. Marks said he and other elected officials also plan to write letters for the time capsule.
As a veteran, Brice said celebrating the Wayside Cross is an important way to acknowledge that “freedom comes with a price.”
“Too many people sacrificed too much so we could have this today,” he said.