Artifacts & Archeologists

Meet archeologists and experience hands-on archeology in Patterson Park and Herring Run

This spring weather is perfect for picnics, bike rides, and, of course, archeology! Next week, you can find Baltimore Heritage in Patterson Park for Archeologists and Artifactsa pop-up exhibit showcasing archeological collections from Carroll Park, Patterson Park, Herring Run Park, and the forgotten town of Texas, Maryland.

If you came out for a site tour during our Hampstead Hill dig last spring, please join us to see the artifacts we recovered from the Battle of Baltimore, the Civil War and beyond. If you volunteered on our 2014 dig and can’t wait to get your hands dirty again, this informal social is the perfect opportunity to meet local archeologists and learn more about projects where volunteers can get involved.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, November 2014.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, November 2014.

Next month, we are continuing our archeological investigation in Herring Run Park in partnership with the Northeast Baltimore History Roundtable, Friends of Herring Run Parks and the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. Initial research last fall uncovered some exciting finds that help reveal the early history of Eutaw Farm – better known today as the area of Hall Springs. A generous grant from Preservation Maryland’s Heritage Fund program is supporting our return to the park in May for a week-long investigation led by local archeologists Jason Shellenhamer and Lisa Kraus.

Read our last update about the Herring Run Park projectsign up to volunteer and save the date of May 16 and May 17 for our open house weekend at the dig.

Photograph courtesy Stephanie Town, 2015 April 18.

Photos: Spring 2015 Cleanup Day at St. Vincent’s Cemetery

This past weekend, the Friends of St. Vincent’s Cemetery held a successful spring clean up day in Clifton Park with support from a great group of volunteers. Thanks to Stephanie Town for sharing a few photos from the event!

Special thanks to AOH-3 Towson, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Police Emerald Society, and Maryland Irish Charities for their hard work. Thank you Terry Nolan for bringing and operating the bush hog and Ed Crawford and Tom Kelleher for recruiting and advocating for this project.

Arlene Fisher, Lafayette Square. Photograph by Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun.

News: Lafayette Square shares its history

“Next Saturday’s tour of “Lafayette Square By Foot” carries an accurate secondary description: “Baltimore Thru the Ages!” This neighborhood, constructed around a public park, has ties to the Civil War, slavery, and the monied Victorians who gave way to Baltimore’s African-American upper middle class. Did I mention that jazz legend Billie Holiday once lived around the corner too?

The square itself is a fascinating, if overlooked, urban destination. On a chilly April afternoon, I observed its detached beauty. It was quiet and occupies high ground. You could observe its history in the facades of all the grand mansions. You visualize Baltimore’s 19th-century wealth one minute and the next imagine how those fortunes moved on.”

Jacques Kelly, “Lafayette Square shares its history,” The Baltimore Sun, April 11, 2015.

Join us for our Lafayette Square walking tour this weekend and check out the full list of Billie Holliday Centennial Programs this month. You can also learn more about the history of Lafayette Square with the story of the Civil War Lafayette Barracks and our neighborhood history of Harlem Park.

Photograph courtesy Alex Fox, 2015 April 12.

Photos: Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance tour of Stone Hill

This past weekend was a lovely day for the Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance walking tour of Stone Hill. Thanks to Nathan Dennies for leading the tour, Baltimore Heritage board member Mark Thistle for opening up his home (the summer home of Elisha Tyson) and to everyone who attended!

Explore Stone Hill and more Hampden area landmarks with the Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance self-guided walking tour brochure available at shops on the Avenue including Trohv, Sprout, Sixteen Tons, Hampden Junque, Choux Cafe, Zensations, and Bazaar.

From the Preliminary Alternatives Screening Report (2014), B&P Tunnel Project.

B&P Tunnel proposal threatens demolition in historic West Baltimore. Learn more at public meetings this month.

Have you heard about the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel project? One replacement proposed for this aging tunnel threatens to demolish several blocks of historic West Baltimore. Four public meetings in April offer opportunities to learn more about the project and share your views.

What is the B&P Tunnel Project?

The Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) Tunnel is a railroad tunnel on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) line in use between Penn Station and the West Baltimore MARC Station for over 140 years. Today, the tunnel is used by Amtrak, MARC Commuter Rail and Norfolk Southern Railway. It is also a bottleneck affecting the reliability of rail service up and down the northeast. One proposed replacement to the B&P Tunnel (known as Alternative 11: Robert Street South) provokes serious concerns about the demolition of historic buildings in West Baltimore. Please come out to a public meeting this month to learn more about the B&P Tunnel project and voice your concerns about the long-term consequences of Alternative 11 on historic West Baltimore neighborhoods.

Last year, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and Amtrak started work on a study to evaluate the condition of the existing tunnel and propose alternatives for rail service through Baltimore. After public meetings in June and October 2014, the project published a Preliminary Alternatives Screening Report (pdf) that identified and evaluated 16 possible options (illustrated in the map below).

From the Preliminary Alternatives Screening Report (2014), B&P Tunnel Project.
Map of Preliminary Alternatives, including 3 and 11. From the Preliminary Alternatives Screening Report (2014), B&P Tunnel Project.

This preliminary review selected four alternatives to advance to a second round of review. Building nothing (Alternative 1) or rehabilitating the existing tunnel (Alternative 2) are two options that are unlikely to meet the long-term need for improved rail service. The two remaining options (Alternative 3: Great Circle Passenger Tunnel and Alternative 11: Robert Street South) both require expensive new tunnels. Unfortunately, Robert Street South also appears to require the demolition of several blocks of historic rowhouses within the proposed Midtown Edmondson National Register Historic District and demolition of the 1911 American Ice Company.

From the Preliminary Alternatives Screening Report (2014), B&P Tunnel Project.
Map illustration the southern portal for Alternative 11. From the Preliminary Alternatives Screening Report (2014), B&P Tunnel Project.

Learn more or share concerns at a public meeting in April

Starting next week, MDOT, FRA, Amtrak and the Baltimore City Department of Transportation are hosting a series of meetings to offer members of the public an opportunity to learn more about the project, ask questions and offer input on the process.

All four meetings are scheduled from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., with a formal presentation starting at 6:30 p.m. The same information will be shared at each meeting in the series:

  • Monday, April 13 at Gilmor Elementary, 1311 North Gilmor Street
  • Tuesday, April 14 at Mt. Royal Elementary, 121 McMechen Street
  • Monday, April 20 at Westside Elementary, 2235 North Fulton Avenue
  • Tuesday, April 21 at Lockerman Bundy Elementary, 301 N. Pulaski Street

To be added to the project mailing list, or to submit your comments, please email info@bptunnel.com. For other questions or for special accommodations at any of these upcoming public meetings, contact Ms. Odessa Phillip, PE, Environmental Project Manager at the Baltimore City Department of Transportation at (410) 396-6856 or Odessa.phillip@baltimorecity.gov.

More open house meetings are planned for this spring and summer. Additional background on this issue can be found on the project website, our own issue profile on the B&P Tunnel Project or The Baltimore Sun coverage from November 2014.

American Ice Company, 2012
American Ice Company, 2012