Johns Hopkins has been the executive director of Baltimore Heritage since 2003. Before that, Johns worked for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development developing and implementing smart growth and neighborhood revitalization programs. Johns holds degrees from Yale University, George Washington University Law School, and the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.
Last night at Mayor Pugh’s direction, Baltimore’s three public Confederate monuments and the monument of Justice Roger B. Taney were taken down and placed in storage. The city’s action comes after a series of meetings, public discussions, and protests that began in June 2015 when people in Baltimore and across the country called for the removal of Confederate monuments and former Mayor Rawlings-Blake created a special commission to study Baltimore’s four statues. More recently, this past Sunday, over a thousand people gathered at the Lee-Jackson Monument for a rally to show solidarity with Charlottesville and to call on the city to take down the monuments. And on Monday, the Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to support a resolution by Councilman Brandon Scott to remove all four of the statues. The Mayor’s decision to remove the monuments last night also came after Baltimore BLOC announced a plan to take down the Lee-Jackson Statue through direct action, following the example set by protesters in Durham, North Carolina.
In 2015, Baltimore Heritage supported the public review of these monuments by presenting testimony and publishing a report on the history of Confederate memory. In our research, we reported how “Lost Cause” monuments to the Confederacy were built as a part of a national movement to support white supremacy beginning after the Civil War. The report also chronicled how the monuments sparked opposition and controversy at the time they were erected. For example, in 1888, a Confederate veteran opposing the erection of a Confederate monument on Eutaw Place wrote: “I am unwilling to see erected in the public streets of this city a monument to a dead idea.” In 1948, the Afro-American newspaper criticized the mayor and governor for participating in the dedication of the Lee-Jackson Monument calling the men it depicted rebels “who walked roughshod over humble people in an attempt to build a State on the foundation of slave labor.”
Today, the four monuments are gone from their pedestals. We join many other Baltimoreans in looking forward to and participating in what comes next. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has called on communities to act in a transparent, deliberative, and inclusive way in dealing with their Confederate monuments. We agree. Just as the removal of the monuments came after years of public participation, we hope the city will invite an open discussion on what happens next at these sites.
We’re enjoying a hot start to summer but before it gets really hot we’re squeezing in a few tours that combine Baltimore’s great heritage with a little outdoor activity. Tomorrow, June 24, we’re taking a walk through Baltimore’s LGBT heritage with our Charles Village Pride tour. On Sunday, June 25, we’re pedaling and talking our way from Cylburn Arboretum to Druid Hill Park and back again on The Enduring Value of Baltimore’s Parks: A Tour by Bike. And on Thursday, June 29 you can check out moving images with a screening of the 1981 16mm film “Memories” organized by the Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance.
If you haven’t already bought your tickets, you still have time to join us on the evening of Thursday, June 15 for our 2017 Awards Celebration. Lexington Market is kindly hosting us for an evening that includes tours of the “catacombs” under the west market, delicious food from Faidley’s, Mary Mervis and more market favorites, and a celebration of the best historic preservation work of the year. We are especially excited to congratulate this year’s award winners. The array of diverse and exceptional award-winning projects includes the rehabilitation of alley houses in East Baltimore, the Herring Run Archaeology project, and the meticulous restoration of grand rowhouses in Bolton Hill. We’ll have parking available in the surface lot next to the market, and with Light Rail and Metro Subway stops close by, there is every reason to get yourself to Lexington Market on June 15!
We hope you can join us over the next several weeks on tours by bike and on foot as we explore immigration into Baltimore, look inside one of the city’s great historic gems at Cylburn Mansion, and eat our way across East Baltimore. You can also check out two great events from our partners this evening: the centennial celebration of the Lafayette Monument at Mount Vernon Place and the Preservation Society’s Annual Reception in Fell’s Point.
What better place to celebrate outstanding historic preservation work in Baltimore over the past year than at Lexington Market? We hope you agree and can join us on Thursday, June 15 for our 2017 Preservation Awards Celebration. All the food for our celebration comes from market vendors: Faidley’s Seafood, Mary Mervis, Berger’s and more market favorites. The evening features this year’s preservation award-winners. The recipients range from people who rehabbed humble rowhouses to those who restored the expansive warehouse spaces such as Open Works and the Lion Brothers Building.