Preserving and promoting Baltimore's historic buildings and neighborhoods.
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.
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, officers from the New York City Vice Squad raided the Stonewall Inn, a well-known gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. A crowd of gay, lesbian, and transgender patrons and bystanders gathered and rose up in violent protest against city police’s harassment and abuse—marking a critical turning point in the nation’s struggle for LGBTQ rights. On June 28, 2019, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of this historic milestone with our own tour of LGBTQ heritage in Baltimore. We hope you can join us for a Mount Vernon walking tour followed by happy hour at Flavor to discuss this important local and national history.
If more plants and less walking appeals to you, join us this Wednesday, June 12, for a behind-the-scenes look at the Rawlings Conservatory. We’ll go deep in the weeds (ahem!) as we explore this 1888 palace for plants modeled after London’s famous Kew Gardens.
Finally, if you haven’t already signed up for our 2019 Historic Preservation Awards Celebration coming up this Thursday June 13, you still have time to get your tickets! We’ll be celebrating the best work of the year at the former A. Hoen & Co. Lithograph Company building in East Baltimore. In addition to helping us congratulate this year’s award winners, you’ll get to explore this former industrial building during a once-in-a-lifetime transformation into new offices and training spaces.
We have a staff position open! We’re looking for a Community Engagement and Communications Manager to join us in our work to preserve and promote Baltimore’s historic places. Below is description of the position and how to apply. The application deadline is June 30, 2019.
Pay & Benefits: $50,000 and $1,500 retirement plan match.
Applications Due: June 30, 2019
Start Date: September 3, 2019
The Community Engagement and Communications Manager will lead Baltimore Heritage’s tours, educational programs, and outreach initiatives to engage people in our mission of protecting and promoting historic buildings and revitalizing historic neighborhoods in Baltimore City.
The manager is responsible for a range of community programs including planning historic walking and building tours, managing an annual micro-grant program for preservation projects, and working with volunteer contributors to publish stories about historic places to our Explore Baltimore Heritage website and app. The manager will also be responsible for sharing information about these programs and the broader work of the organization through Baltimore Heritage’s website, social media, and print communications.
This is a full time position (40 hours per week) reporting to the executive director. Work hours are typically 9:00 am to 5:00 pm with occasional evening and weekend requirements. The work will take place mostly at Baltimore Heritage’s office as well as locations throughout Baltimore City for meetings and program events.
Heritage Tours Programs: Initiate tours at new sites by contacting potential building owners and tour guides, research and write tour descriptions and announcements, support volunteer guides and organizers, attend tours, and compile quarterly reports.
Preservation Micro-Grant Program: Promote micro grant program to prospective applicants, manage grant selection process, organize public event where final grants are selected and announced, work with grantees on follow-up stories.
Explore Baltimore Heritage Website & App: Draft occasional interpretive stories on historic places in the Baltimore area and edit and publish stories from volunteer contributors.
Bmore Historic unconference: Help coordinate a volunteer planning committee to organize an annual unconference at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Groups): Use social media to promote public programs and share announcements and information related to Baltimore Heritage and preservation in Baltimore. Social media responsibilities include moderating two Facebook groups—the Old House Forum for local historic homeowners and Bmore Historic for area preservationists and historians.
Assist in organizing and staffing annual historic preservation awards event, annual membership renewal mailing, monthly board of directors meetings, and other fundraising and program efforts.
Assist in maintaining and updating member records.
Qualification and Skill Requirements
Interest in Baltimore and the city’s history, architecture, and people
Bachelor’s degree in historic preservation, history, urban planning, or a related field
Strong writing and research skills
Experience researching local history or preparing National Register nominations
Ability to work with volunteers and community partners
Ability to work independently with good organization and time management skills
Familiarity with WordPress, GSuite (Docs, Slides, Sheets), Adobe Photoshop and/or Adobe InDesign, and membership management tools (e.g. Salesforce, CiviCRM)
Send cover letter, resume, and short (500 words or less) writing sample to Mr. Johns W. Hopkins, Executive Director, Baltimore Heritage: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions, contact Mr. Hopkins at 410-332-9992 or email@example.com.
About Baltimore Heritage
Baltimore Heritage is a city-wide non-profit historic preservation organization. Founded in 1960, it has two-full time staff positions, a 35 member board of directors, and dozens of volunteers. Baltimore Heritage operates in three primary areas: preservation advocacy for historic buildings and neighborhoods; education programs including an expansive Heritage Tours Program; and technical assistance to homeowners and building owners working to restore their historic buildings.
We have more fun tours to share today but also some unfortunate news. Earlier this week, a surprise demolition took down two 1840s stone houses in the Woodberry neighborhood near Clipper Mill. The loss is particularly upsetting because it follows repeated assurances that the houses would be retained and incorporated into a new apartment building. Read our post on this issue to learn more about what we can do to ensure Baltimore’s historic places are valued and retained.
Now, if you’ve been in Baltimore for any amount of time, we hoped you’ve visited Druid Hill Park at least once or twice. This spring, we’re hoping you’ll spend a little time getting to know the park even better. On Saturday, June 8, we want you to take a ride on Druid Hill Park’s quiet back streets and paths to explore all the hidden nooks and crannies with Ralph Brown and Graham Coreil-Allen as your guides. Then, on the evening of Wednesday, June 12, we’re back at Druid Hill Park for a tour of the Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory. Modeled after London’s famed Kew Gardens, we’ll learn about the past and present operation of this botanical oasis.
We’re also excited to share an invitation from local archaeologists Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer. Instead of the usual spring field season in Herring Run Park, you can find them in Fell’s Point next weekend, Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2, for a free public archaeology open house at the Caulker’s Houses on South Wolfe Street. We expect this archaeological investigation to turn up all kinds of stories and artifacts including connections to the 1840s and 1850s when the two wooden houses were home to a number of African American ship caulkers. Check out an update on what the dig has found so far over on the Herring Run Archaeology project website. It is a bit of an understatement to say that the houses are not universally accessible (no floors and barely-there stairs!) but, if you can’t go in, you can still see artifacts displayed on a table set up on the sidewalk.
Finally, you definitely don’t want to miss our 2019 Historic Preservation Awards Celebration on Thursday June 13! We’ll be celebrating the best work of the year at the former Hoen & Co. Lithograph Company building. In addition to helping us congratulate the award winners, you’ll get up close and inside and this former industrial building and see its transformation into new offices and training spaces.
A breach of public trust. This is at the heart of yesterday’s demolition of two 1840s stone houses in Woodberry. We are shocked and angry to see the loss of these two buildings—and anxious to protect Woodberry’s historic buildings from more demolition.
Over the past year, Woodberry residents, City Councilman Leon Pinkett, and preservation organizations, including Baltimore Heritage and Preservation Maryland, rallied to protest initial plans for demolition, attended meetings, offered comments, and worked with the development team on a proposal to incorporate elements of the existing Clipper Road buildings into a proposed new apartment building. The developers presented this revised plan at a community meeting last fall and again in January 2019 at a public hearing before the city planning department’s Urban Design and Architectural Advisory Panel. Baltimore Heritage along with the community association, Councilman Pinkett, and others supported this compromise.
Then, yesterday morning, both stone houses were demolished without warning. After hearing the news, the architectural firm for the project, PI.KL Studio, resigned. The development partner, Mr. Christopher Mfume at CLD Partners, at first defended the demolitions then late yesterday announced that he had also left the project. The Baltimore Sun reported that the owner of the site, Woodberry Station LLC, and its resident agent Katherine Jennings could not be reached for comment.
We don’t want to see another loss like this one in Woodberry. We hope the neighborhood will seriously consider renewing efforts to work with the city Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) and become a designated local historic district. Proposals to demolish or alter historic buildings within CHAP districts require review by CHAP staff and, often, the full CHAP commission. Most importantly, city law requires that these reviews take place before a demolition permit can be issued. Woodberry has considered becoming a CHAP district in the past, and Baltimore Heritage stands ready to assist if the neighborhood’s residents want to consider doing so again.
This morning, my colleague Eli and I stopped by the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and took in a welcome sight: construction workers everywhere building a new structure inside the brick walls of the nation’s oldest surviving Jewish orphanage. Work is well underway to turn this once neglected building into a much needed healthcare facility in West Baltimore.
The road to this morning’s busy scene was a long one. Baltimore Heritage first became involved with the Asylum in 2005, nearly fifteen years ago. Today, we wanted to share the story behind the building’s transition. Over the past decade, the building has gone from vacant and slated for demolition to a site of rebuilding and renewal. We hope that a brief recap of the milestones on this journey can provide a little insight into the world of historic preservation and hope for Baltimoreans and others working on their own uphill preservation projects!
Slated for Demolition
In 2005, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum’s owner, Coppin State University, announced plans to tear down the building. The university sought to avoid the continued expense of maintaining the vacant structure and envisioned creating a “south campus” on the site at some undetermined later date. For years, Baltimore Heritage and the Maryland Historical Trust urged CSU officials to preserve and reuse the building rather than demolish it.
In 2010, we nominated the Hebrew Orphan Asylum to the National Register of Historic Places and called for people across the city to support the building’s entry in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “This Place Matters” competition. We didn’t win, but still came in sixth place and made a lot of new friends who cared about this historic landmark. With a change in leadership at CSU and wider public recognition of the building’s significance, the university eventually agreed to hold off on demolition even without a clear plan for what to do next.
Community-Centered Planning and Health
Over the next seven years, we worked with the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation and residents in the Greater Rosemont community to develop a plan for reusing the building. We secured funding from Preservation Maryland to prepare a new strategic vision for the building’s redevelopment. Armed with a state study showing that the area around the Asylum has the greatest level of health care disparity in Maryland, the community and CDC determined that bringing a medical facility back into the building was an ideal opportunity.
After years of effort, the CDC convinced Coppin State University to sell the building and worked out an agreement for its purchase. This was the first time in recent memory that the University of Maryland system had sold a building, and the transaction required years of significant legal work—with special credit to pro-bono counsel Ballard Spahr. With a Maryland Historical Trust preservation easement protecting the exterior of the building, the CDC became the owners of the Asylum in 2017.
That same year, the CDC took another significant step forward when Behavioral Health System Baltimore and the Baltimore City Health Department committed to lease the entire building for health care use. The first program to go into the building is the new Crisis Stabilization Center—an innovative drug treatment program being introduced to Baltimore. Additional healthcare-related offices and programs are expected to follow.
Financing and the Future
At the same time, Baltimore Heritage worked to apply for state and federal historic tax credits to stabilize and eventually rehab the building. First with Kann Partners Architects and now with Waldon Studio Architects and Southway Builders as partners, we secured several million dollars in historic tax credits that jump started the fundraising process. With historic tax credits in hand, the CDC secured additional contributions from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Weinberg Foundation. With help from a local development consultant, Cross Street Partners, the CDC finally secured a bank loan in December 2018 to finance the overall $16 million construction cost.
Construction at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum is now scheduled to finish in 2020 when doors open for the new stabilization center and health care offices. It has taken many partners to go from the brink of demolition to the promising future of today, including everybody who has supported Baltimore Heritage over the last many years. Your membership gifts, ticket purchases for walking tours, and end-of-year giving have allowed us to stick with the Asylum as advocates, community organizers, fundraisers, and partners.
Thank you to all of you who have carried us during our fourteen years of work and helped get us this far. Keep the faith that we will make it to the finish line with the Asylum, and we’ll keep you updated on the first opportunity we can get inside for a Behind the Scenes hard hat tour!