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Author: Johns

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.

What we’ve achieved together in 2017 Thanks to more than 2,000 people for supporting preservation this year

I just took a look back at the programs and events, advocacy, and technical assistance our Baltimore Heritage community accomplished this past year and I am amazed.

I’m amazed by the 2,415 people and organizations that donated, volunteered, and supported our work preserving historic places and promoting historic neighborhoods. With just two-and-a-half staff, we are not the biggest non-profit in Baltimore but we feel fortunate to have so many friends and neighbors who love this city just as much as we do!

Here’s what’s behind that truly extraordinary number:

  • Three generous donors funded our preservation micro-grants
  • Three volunteers and three great partners helped launch our new Maintain Civic Spaces project
  • Seventy-seven people showed up for our Vacant Buildings 101 workshops
  • Forty-six volunteers led eighty heritage tours of historic places
  • Over fifteen hundred people came on tours generating over $2,000 for local historic sites
  • Over eight hundred people supported our work as members
  • Nineteen corporations and thirteen foundations gave grants or sponsorships

Wow! For all of you who volunteer, come out to our programs and tours, and support our work in Baltimore, please accept a sincere thank you from all of our staff and board of directors at Baltimore Heritage. Here is how your time, talents and financial support make a difference.


Leading tours of thirty unique historic places

In 2017, forty-six people volunteered their time, talent, and knowledge to lead eighty tours of thirty separate historic places around Baltimore. Our annual Baltimore by Foot neighborhood walking tour series took visitors to Stone Hill and Dickeyville. Our Behind the Scenes tours explored historic theaters downtown, the “catacombs” at Lexington Market, and the H.L. Mencken House — just to name a few.

With over fifteen hundred participants, your tour tickets raised nearly $2,000 for preservation of small museums and historic sites across the city. We covered a lot of territory thanks to our tour volunteers:

Melissa Archer, Shelley Arnold, Joanne Baker, Tom Beck, Ralph Brown, Blaine Carvalho, Marianne Colimore, Graham Coreil-Allen, Sally Craig, Kate Creamer, Kate Drabinski, Bill Dunn, Patricia Foster, Rose Gallenberger, Marjorie Goodman, Virginia Green, Francesca Guerin, Patricia Hawthorne, Robert Headley, Duncan Hodge, Guy Hollyday, Matthew Hood, Louis Hughes, Lesley Humphreys, Jamie Hunt, Lisa Kraus, Sarah Krum, Lindsey Loeper, Alvin Manger, Richard Messick, Stephanie Moore, Peter Morrill, Richard Oloizia, Stacy Pack, Shirley Perry, Wayne Schaumburg, Doris Sharkey, Jason Shellenhamer, Terry Shepard, Lisa Simeone, Rick Smith, Willy Sydnor, Debra Thomas, Dave Tirschman, Tom Walker, Gregory Weidman, and Debra Wiener.

Teaching Vacant Buildings 101 to neighborhood advocates

Vacant buildings cause problems for residents all across Baltimore City. But residents can also work to solve these problems! Baltimore Heritage and the Community Law Center teamed up to lead three workshops and publish a new online resource for Baltimore residents, property owners, and community leaders to take action on this issue. Thanks to our colleagues Becky Witt and Kristine Dunkerton at the Community Law Center for working with us.

Giving away micro-grants for preservation projects

A gothic stone church seen from the roof of a building across the street.
Union Baptist Church, 2016 April 6. Baltimore Heritage.

With the generous support of one of our members, Ms. Brigid Goody, and surprise gifts from FreedomCar and Southway Builders, in the second year of our preservation micro-grant program we offered six grants totaling $3,000 to the Preservation Society of Fell’s Point, the Beloved Community Services Corporation at Union Baptist Church, Mount Clare House Museum, Poe Baltimore, H.L. Mencken House, Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum, and Civic Works.

Maintaining historic buildings as civic spaces

This year, we partnered with the Neighborhood Design Center’s Community Design Works program to recruit volunteer architects and conduct conditions assessments of the Village Learning Place and the Hodge House at First & Franklin Church. We’re now interviewing local nonprofit leaders with the Friends of Patterson Park and McKim Center to understand best practices for maintaining community-serving buildings. Thanks to Laura Wheaton at NDC, volunteer architects Darragh Brady, Andrew Chaveas, and Jay Orr, PNC Bank for its support, and everyone who has helped us to launch this exciting new initiative.

Sustaining our work and mission as members

Over eight hundred individuals and families contributed as members, nineteen corporations provided sponsorship support, and thirteen foundations and organizations supported our programs and events. These contributions make up over fifty percent of our operating budget and provide the critical funding for all we do, from advocating for places like the Sellers Mansion to providing technical assistance on historic preservation projects.

Corporate & Business Supporters: Agora, Brennan and Company Architects, Cho Benn Holback, a Quinn Evans Company, Delbert Adams Construction Group, FreedomCar, GLB Concrete Construction, GWWO Architects, McLain Wiesand, Michael J. Walkley, PA, Murdoch Architects, O’Connell & Associates, PNC, Rohrer Studio, SM+P Architects, Southway Builders, Terra Nova Ventures, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Zeskinds Hardware and Millwork, Ziger/Snead Architects

Foundation Supporters: Abell Foundation Matching Grant, Annie Casey Matching Grant, Baltimore Office of Promotion and Arts, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Kaiser Foundation Matching Grant, Marino Foundation, Maryland Association of History Museums, Mount Washington Garden Club, National Recreation Foundation, Preservation Maryland, University of Maryland, University of Maryland Foundation, Van Buren Family Foundation


I wish you a wonderful holiday season and I look forward to working with you in the new year.

P.S. You can help that number go from 2,415 to 2,416. Please consider renewing your support or becoming a member or signing up to join us for an upcoming tour. Thanks!

Enjoy holiday tours at Mount Clare Museum and the Mother Seton House Don't forget to contact Congress to help save the federal historic tax credit

As we head into the holidays, we hope you can join us on our two remaining heritage tours of 2017. On Saturday December 16, we’re heading to the Carroll Park home of Charles Carroll the Barrister for The Holiday Season “Colonial Style”: Mount Clare Museum House Decorated for December. In addition to touring one of Maryland’s best preserved Colonial-era residences, we hope you’ll enjoy the building’s holiday decorating glory.

Our final tour of the year is a visit to the Mother Seton House and Godefroy Chapel on the afternoon of Wednesday, December 27. The Mother Seton House is the former residence of America’s first saint and the original St. Mary’s Seminary Chapel was designed by noted early American architect Maximilian Godefroy. We hope you can include this tour in your plans for the final week of 2017!

Finally, we still need your help to save the federal historic tax credit program from elimination by the tax bill now before Congress. This federal tax credit has been critical to fostering investment in Baltimore’s historic buildings and neighborhoods and Congress is now threatening to cut off this key source of support. Developers have used federal historic tax credits on everything from the American Can Company to Clipper Mill, from Montgomery Ward to Tide Point. Learn more about the program from our partners at Preservation Maryland then contact your elected officials to let them know how important this program is.

Rowhouses with colorfully painted porches and bay windows.

Historic holiday tours and events this December! Don't miss the Union Square Cookie Tour, Charles Village Snowflake Tour, and other upcoming special events

This Sunday, December 3, we are holding our second and final tour of the War Memorial in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Symphony. After the guided tour, you can enjoy a concert featuring the symphony and the JHU Choral Arts Society for a performance by Maurice Durufle utilizing the acoustics of the War Memorial’s magnificent large hall.

Over the next few weeks, many local historic sites and neighborhoods are celebrating the holidays by opening their doors for tours and special events. We hope you can check out the open house at G. Krug and Son Ironworks, the annual Union Square Cookie Tour, the Charles Village Snowflake Tour, or another program at a historic site this December!

Two men, Johns Hopkins and Sen. Ben Cardin, both wearing dark suits and red ties in a room at Clifton Mansion.

Contact your representatives! Congressional tax bill threatens the Historic Tax Credit for rehabbing buildings in Baltimore "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" seeks to cut program used by hundreds of Baltimore projects

Last Thursday, November 2, the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives released a tax reform bill that, if approved, eliminates the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit program.

Please contact your members of Congress to show your support for the Historic Tax Credit program. The National Trust for Historic Preservation makes it easy to send your Senators and Congressional Representatives an email about this issue. All you need is your zip code.

Contact your representatives

Losing federal historic tax credits would be devastating for Baltimore City. Since 2002, over 350 projects have relied on funding from the federal historic tax credit program. The credit has helped developers find new uses for vacant buildings including the American Can Company, Clipper Mill, Tide Point, Montgomery Park, and the Stieff Silver Building. Historic tax credits can protect and preserve treasured historic places like Clifton Mansion, the Woman’s Industrial Exchange, Eastern High School, American Brewery, Center Theater, and many more. And, for each example, there are many more historic buildings that will need these credits to support rehabilitation in the future.

A nightime view of a large Victorian brick building with light shining from the windows.
American Brewery Building. Photograph by Paul Burk.

This concerning proposal is moving forward quickly: the House leadership is seeking a full vote on their proposal before Thanksgiving. We need your help to protect one of the most important programs for historic buildings in Baltimore today.

For more on how the federal historic tax credit helps Baltimore and Maryland, check out this advocacy alert from our friends at Preservation Maryland or this resource from Preservation Action. Thank you for lending your support to keep this program that has helped so many in Baltimore and deserves to continue being a catalyst for our economic growth.

Fingers holding the "Park Ranger" card for the Game of Floods in the foreground and the game board in the background.

Join us for Keeping History Above Water next Thursday, November 9 And don't miss our last three Monumental City tours for 2017

Over the past few days, preservationists from all over came together in Annapolis for the second Keeping History Above Water conference. Participants shared experiences using GIS to track eroding shorelines, protecting infrastructure in coastal cities, and designing resilient museum exhibits. Conference participants even played the Game of Floods—a board game created to teach players about flood risk from rising sea levels.

We can’t promise you’ll play a board game at next week’s lecture on climate change and cultural heritage but we can promise you’ll discover how communities are working to protect historic buildings and archaeological resources from rising water and serious storms. Our speaker, Lisa Craig, is the Chief of Historic Preservation for Annapolis and she brings over twenty years of experience in preservation to meet the challenges facing Annapolis and historic coastal communities all across the world. I hope to see you there.

We also have more tours this fall. We’re back at Lexington Market next Saturday, November 11 (come for the history and then stay for the food!). Our market tours continue through the winter but there are only three Monumental City tours left this year: Jonestown and the Shot Tower on November 5, Downtown Landmarks and Lions on November 12, Mount Vernon Place and the Washington Monument on November 19. Tickets are just five dollars!

Finally, if you are already a member of Baltimore Heritage, thank you. We can’t do it without you. If you haven’t donated this year, please consider renewing your support or becoming a member for the first time.