Left: Centre Theatre, July 19, 1939. BG&E Collection, Baltimore Museum of Industry, BGE.12520. Right: Centre Theatre, January 2015. Courtesy  Eric Hatch.

New heritage tours from North Avenue to Thames Street

After a chilly February, we hope you will warm up with us next month on our new heritage tours in Station North and Fell’s Point.

We’re thrilled offer a tour of the Centre Theater on March 4 led by Jubilee Baltimore’s Executive Director Charlie Duff who is leading an ambitious rehabilitation project for the building. Jubilee and their partners at Johns Hopkins University and MICA are transforming this long-neglected Station North landmark into a home for film education and arts programming. On March 26, the Women’s Housing Coalition is opening up the grand Margaret Jenkins Mansion on Maryland Avenue for a unique tour of a former orphanage turned into a transitional home for women in 2008.

At the end of March we are launching a new series of walking tours in Fell’s Point in partnership with the Preservation Society to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the construction of the Robert Long House. Take a deep dive into the history of Fell’s Point on our tours and the Preservation Society lectures on topics including economic development, African-American heritage, and immigration. Distinguished local historian and former state archivist Dr. Edward Papenfuse, is leading the first tour in the series – Fell’s Point as Boomtown – on March 29.

Chase Brexton Health Center,  2014 Preservation Award Winner

Make a nomination for our 2015 Preservation Awards

What historic places have you seen restored in your neighborhood in the past year? Are you a home-owner celebrating the end of a jaw-dropping rehabilitation project? Or the architect behind an inspired example of adaptive reuse? We need your help to nominate Baltimore’s best in preservation projects and heritage achievements for our 2015 Historic Preservation Awards.

Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson House, Stairwell
Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson House, 2012 Award Winner

We launched our awards program in 1961 and,over the past fifty years, we have recognized close to 300 projects—everything from the rehabilitation of Seton Hill rowhouses to the amazing effort to save the American Brewery. In 2014, our awards celebration honored sixteen projects reflecting the work of over 100 individuals and local firms.

Take a look at our guidelines for more information about our awards categories and review process. Our nomination form is intended to be simple and easy – requiring only a short narrative about the project or achievement, images (before and after photographs are encouraged for all bricks-and-mortar project), and names and contact information for all project partners. Nominations must be submitted by Friday, March 6, 2015 for consideration by our review committee.

Please submit your nomination today then stay tuned for the details on our annual awards celebration in June!

Photograph by William Henry Jackson for Detroit Publishing Company, c. 1903. Courtesy Library of Congress, phLC-D401-16172.

Fall in love with a beautiful building on our upcoming heritage tours

February is the perfect time of year to share a memorable love story and fall in love with a beautiful building. Please join us on Sunday, February 15 for a Valentine’s Day tradition—the Mount Vernon Love Stories Valentine’s walking tour with volunteer guide Jamie Hunt!  Jamie’s tour weaves together stories of trysts, true loves and everything from Benedict Arnold to Al Capone. It’s a real treat and we hope you can join us.

Later in the month, we are looking forward to a preview of a restored Civil Rights museum at the Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson house on Eutaw Place. This tour is the first program in our Civil Rights Landmarks series highlighting historic places tied to the history of Baltimore’s African-American Civil Rights movement. The series is organized through our new partnership with the Maryland Historical Trust and the Baltimore National Heritage Area to document Baltimore’s Civil Rights heritage in the year ahead.

We are always looking for places to tour so, if you have ideas, we’d love to hear from you. You’ll see from our calendar of upcoming tours that we are continuing to branch out with new spring tours planned for Ellicott City and Havre de Grace, so any and all ideas are welcome! Don’t forget, membership support includes discounts on tours and early access to our spring 2015 Baltimore by Foot tours—including walks with local experts in Pigtown, Mount Washington, Hampden and more.

Helena Hicks, at Morgan, in front of a sit-in photo from Arundel Ice Cream. Photograph Christopher Myers, courtesy Baltimore Magazine.

News: And Service For All highlights history of Read’s Drug Store

Thank you to Ron Cassie for a detailed and thoughtful take on the legacy of the successful student sit-ins at Read’s Drug Store that took place 60 years ago this month. Check out the full story for more details on the long history of civil-rights student activism by Morgan State students or learn more about our exciting new partnership to document historic places connected with Baltimore’s Civil Rights heritage.

A few days later, the front page of the January 22, 1955, national edition of The Afro-American newspaper ran a short story, datelined Baltimore, with the headline “Now serve all.” Read’s, which had 39 area stores, had suddenly decided to desegregate, with the article citing a “sit-down strike” at its “largest store in the heart of the city, the day before the change of policy was announced.” …Baltimore Heritage director Johns Hopkins (distant descendant of the Johns Hopkins) says it was during the late 2000s, when demolition of the Read’s building was formally proposed, that the story of Read’s began to come to life again. He believes the location of the building and its historic sit-ins are central to understanding the city’s complicated record regarding racial prejudice—nowhere more obvious than at Howard and Lexington. The city’s beloved department stores—Hochchild’s, Stewart’s, Hecht’s, and Hutzler’s (“where Baltimore shops!”)—all maintained some form of segregation until 1960 or later.

“When it really hit home for me, what this building and block represent, was when a class of eighth graders and a class of ninth graders came out on separate field trips during demonstrations a few years ago,” Hopkins says. “Their reaction was very powerful. You could see what it meant to them to know that story and to be there, where it happened. It’s one of the few physical places like that in existence in Baltimore. It’s not the Taj Mahal, but landmarks like this draw kids in, and they get interested in learning about that history.”

Continue reading And Service For All: Sixty years ago, Morgan State College students staged the first successful lunch-counter sit-ins by Ron Cassie, Baltimore Magazine (January 2015).

Photograph of the Fifth Regiment Armory from the Detroit Publishing Company, c. 1903. Courtesy the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-det-4a10955.

Come on a tour and help advocate for preservation priorities in the new year!

Happy New Year! We’re starting out 2015 with a new batch of heritage tours starting tomorrow night with Automobiles to Artists: A Pre-Rehab Tour of the Motor House in Station North. On January 20, we’ll take a look around the imposing Fifth Regiment Armory along with the Maryland Museum of Military History.

Rendering of planned rehabilitation for former Eastwick Motor Company.
Rendering of planned rehabilitation for former Eastwick Motor Company. Courtesy BARCO.

If you enjoy our tours, you also might want to get involved with our advocacy for historic preservation and neighborhood revitalization. This Wednesday, you can help us build the case that investment in the Red Line is essential for historic neighborhoods at the Build the Red Line Advocacy Summit organized by Red Line Now and the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance. Next week, we are excited to partner with Preservation Maryland and their new executive director Nicholas Redding to host a quick introduction to statewide preservation advocacy priorities for the 2015 Maryland Legislative Session.

Thank you once again to everybody who volunteered with us, came on a tour with us, and made a financial contribution in 2014. With you, we are able to work more than ever preserving Baltimore’s historic places and revitalizing our historic neighborhoods!