Eli Pousson started as a Field Officer at Baltimore Heritage in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation in October 2009. Prior to moving to Baltimore, Eli worked for the DC Office of Historic Preservation and completed graduate work in anthropology and historic preservation at the University of Maryland College Park. Eli continues to work with the Lakeland Community Heritage Project and other heritage organizations in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Brutal Reckoning: Developers are anxious to tear down the Mechanic Theatre and McKeldin Fountain, even without a plan (or money) to replace them, Fred Scharmen, Baltimore City Paper, October 14, 2014.
The Morris A. Mechanic Theatre is the first victim of what could be seen as a new wave of demolition. “In the end, this mess over the Mechanic represents a growing wave of historic preservation conflicts taking shape across the country. Modernist buildings from the middle of last century are increasingly falling out of fashion and facing the wrecking ball,” Baltimore Heritage’s Executive Director Johns Hopkins told Urbanite in 2010, when discussing plans to destroy the theater. “In the 1940s and ’50s, Victorian buildings like the Engineers Club, the Winans Mansion, and the Marburg Mansion were all considered drop-dead ugly and not worthy of preservation, and those are among our most prized architectural possessions today.”
Sparks started flying at the blacksmith shop on West Saratoga Street when James Madison was president of the United States, and a crew there is still on the job, now operating in a hybrid historical museum and working business…
“It’s not just another museum,” said Johns W. Hopkins Jr., executive director of the preservation organization Baltimore Heritage. “It is highly unusual for many reasons, that combination being one of them.”
Any archeologist will tell you: the most important part of a dig is not what we find, it is what we find out! Processing artifacts is an essential step to learning more about an archeological site and the stories it may hold. Thanks to support from the Maryland Historical Trust Archeology Lab in Crownsville, project archeologists from Louis Berger, and a great group of fourteen volunteers, we just completed the laboratory processing for the artifacts recovered from Patterson Park this past spring.
Between July 29 and August 27, our volunteers (including seven people who helped out during the dig this spring) washed and labeled artifacts then recorded detailed description in a catalog for the collection. The artifacts included a War of 1812 musket ball, a Civil War belt buckle, and a half-plate made of ironstone. The oldest artifact is the Piscataway point created over 2,000 years ago. We didn’t realize in the field that we had found huge number of pieces of kiln furniture (the protective vessels that held pipes as they were fired in the kiln) or “muffles.” The large number of pieces raises the question of whether a kiln was located at the site or whether they were just brought in as dirt fill.
In the next few weeks, Louis Berger will send the artifacts to Kansas City to be photographed at their own laboratory. They’ll be back in Baltimore in time for the bicentennial celebrations on September 14. In October, we will send the collection to its permanent home at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, at Jefferson Park and Museum in St. Leonard, Maryland. You can look forward to seeing a selection of artifacts back in Baltimore this spring as part of a new exhibit we are planning at the Patterson Park Pagoda with the Friends of Patterson Park.
Thank you to everyone who came out for the Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance Open House on Friday! Special thanks to all of the generous local businesses and supporters who contributed the silent auction. Stay tuned for more updates as we put together an exciting new heritage brochure for Hampdenfest next month!