This Place Matters, Hebrew Orphan Asylum

News: New Life for Old Jewish Landmark

Special thanks to historian Deb Weiner for her efforts to help us keep spreading the word about Baltimore’s Hebrew Orphan Asylum!

New Life for Old Jewish Landmark, Simone Ellin, Baltimore Jewish Times,‍‍ November 18, 2014.

“I think it’s an incredibly important building,” said local historian Deb Weiner of the Romanesque-style building designed by architects Edward Lupus and Henry A. Roby. “After B’nai Israel and the Lloyd Street Synagogue, it’s probably the most important building to the Baltimore Jewish community. “It represents the era, in the 19th century, when Jews started to build charities,” Weiner continued. “It shows how the community was becoming more affluent and could afford it.” …

“We got involved when there was a proposal to demolish the building,” said Johns Hopkins, executive director of Baltimore Heritage, Inc. and a board member of the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation. “Then Coppin State got a new president who thought the building was an asset.” Hopkins and his colleagues worked with Coppin State to get the building on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. “It was a slam-dunk,” said Hopkins, “since the building was so significant both architecturally and historically.”

With support from Coppin State, in 2012, the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation, Baltimore Heritage, Inc. and architectural firm Kann Partners were granted a $2.5 million tax credit from the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program. A state study later concluded that the neighborhood around the building was one of the five least healthy in the state, leading Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown to announce that the neighborhood would encompass one of five new Health Enterprise zones. The Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation will now restore the building and create a full-service medical facility called the Center for Health Care and Healthy Living.

Images courtesy Internet Archive, Ziger/Snead Architects.

Celebrating the Karen Lewand Preservation Education Fund at the Ivy Hotel

It has been two years since our colleague, friend and inspiration Karen Lewand passed away. The historic preservation education fund that she created is almost two years old as well, and it is our privilege to celebrate Karen’s legacy and the ongoing good work that she made possible at Baltimore Heritage. As a way to say thank you for the over two hundred individuals and businesses who contributed to the education fund in 2012 and 2013, we are throwing a party and inviting you to join us for a reception and tour of the Ivy Hotel in Mount Vernon on the evening of Wednesday, December 3.

Karen and Bob Lewand, June 2010
Karen and Bob Lewand, June 2010

The Ivy is in the middle of a comprehensive restoration to turn the neighborhood landmark into a first-class boutique inn. The 1889 mansion started its life on Calvert Street as a home for John Gilman. William Painter, inventor of the bottle cap and founder of the Crown Cork and Seal Company, and Robert Garrett, double gold medalist at the first modern Olympics in 1896, also took turns owning and enjoying the mansion. The Ivy is a fantastic place and with the help of the Azola Companies, our host and the building’s owner, and Ziger/Snead Architects are returning to its full Gilded Age glory.

Image courtesy Azola Companies
Image courtesy Azola Companies

Special thanks to everyone who has supported the Karen Lewand Historic Preservation Education Fund and for making our work in Baltimore possible.

Rowhouses, Savannah, Georgia

Photos: PastForward 2014 Conference in Savannah, Georgia

We are in Savannah, Georgia this week to spend a couple of days learning with fellow preservationists at the PastForward 2014 conference organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Baltimore and Maryland are well represented at the conference by staff from the Maryland Historical Trust, Preservation Maryland and, of course, Johns and me!

Since we couldn’t bring you all with us, we wanted to share a few photos from the first few days of our trip – including rowhouses, parks, monuments and more! You can also participate in the conference from home as a virtual attendee.

A European Holiday at The Cloisters

Holidays tours of a Medieval mansion and great Gothic church! Join our new Behind the Scenes tours

As we head into Thanksgiving and the holiday season, we’re pleased to be able to share a few new heritage tours. We hope you can spend an evening or two with us this fall. OnNovember 19, we’re heading to G. Krug and Son Ironworks – the oldest ironworks company in America and the home of a new museum to showcase 200 years of Baltimore iron-making. In December, we’re starting the holiday season with a tour of the Cloisters, an enchanting medieval house that will be decorated for the holidays. And finally, we hope you’ll join us (and bring an out-of-town guest) for a tour of St. John’s in the Village, a charming Gothic church that is ever so British.

You also might enjoy the first few posts in a series documenting what we are calling the Great Western Rowhouse Roadtrip—an exploration of rowhouse neighborhoods and historic preservation in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Wheeling. Keep an eye here on our blog for more fun posts from the trip!

Finally, we want to share our special thanks to Azola Companies for sponsoring our Baltimore Behind the Scenes tours in 2014. Thank you to everyone who has joined or renewed your membership in our fall membership drive. If you haven’t renewed, please consider doing so today. Your support makes these heritage tours and all of our work in Baltimore possible.

Aerial View of Homewood Campus, Circa 1920. Courtesy
Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries, Ferdinand Hamburger University Archives, 00828.

Students highlight history with new signage for JHU Homewood Campus landmarks

Have you ever walked past a local landmark and wondered who wrote the plaque? For the historic buildings at Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Campus, the students themselves are telling the stories! The students undertook this ambitious project as part of a course taught by Beth Maloney for the Program in Museums and Society at Johns Hopkins University in partnership with the Homewood Museum, Johns Hopkins University Archives and MICA’s Environmental Graphic Design class. Thank you to Beth for sharing this great case study in education and interpretation!

As a consultant to museums and historic sites, I partner with working professionals to address challenges, create new material and generate strategies for programming and visitor engagement. In addition to my consulting work, lately I’ve been teaching undergraduate students in a course through the Program in Museums and Society at Johns Hopkins University. I love how this teaching experience gives me the time to work with and learn from students as we explore informal learning and museum interpretation. And, because the class I teach is a practicum, students work through their ideas by collaborating with a local museum or organization on a hands-on project. This kind of collaborative work is not just valuable for students. For partner organizations, it’s a chance to gain new perspective on material, themes and practice – and leverage fresh energy and people-power to accomplish projects that may not have been possible alone.

Courtesy Maryland Institute College of Art
Courtesy Maryland Institute College of Art

In the Spring of 2014, we partnered with staff from the Homewood Museum and Johns Hopkins University Archives to create interpretive signage for ten sites throughout the University’s Homewood campus. The broad goal for the project, as defined by the students, was to reveal stories about the property where the Homewood campus now sits in order to draw attention to the layers of history that are around us and prompt a dialog that would nurture a deeper “sense of place.”

Developing the signs was a collaborative and iterative process. Each student researched a site – discovering stories of the people who lived and worked there, identifying primary sources, and developing interpretive text. Once these main ingredients were gathered, students tested and refined their text with peers, faculty, scholars, and visitors to campus.

Courtesy Maryland Institute College of Art
Courtesy Maryland Institute College of Art

When content and visuals were in final draft form, we partnered with Jeremy Hoffman’s exhibit design course at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Hopkins and MICA students reviewed the sites and stories together and then MICA students developed proposals for both the graphic and structural design of the signs. Over the summer, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the support of the University, the Program in Museums and Society produced and installed the signs according to the students’ vision. A web presence for this work is in the planning as part of the university’s Hopkins Retrospective project, as are related programs on campus.

But most importantly, these signs will only be up for the academic year, so come over to campus and take a look!

MICA design student Katie Doherty. Courtesy Maryland Institute College of Art
MICA design student Katie Doherty. Courtesy Maryland Institute College of Art