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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.

A stone sculpture of a horse sitting on an abstract wave with columns in the background.

Enjoy the fall weather on a unique tour this October Explore landmarks and history on a bike, listening to music, and on a bus tour!

Fall weather is perfect for going new places and exploring the city by bike and bus. We have three new tours lined up over the next few weeks including a beer history themed bike tour, a classical concert at a classical landmark, and a bus tour with local architect Tom Liebel for Doors Open Baltimore.

Baltimore Beer Week 2017 is coming up and Dr. Ralph Brown has volunteered to lead a morning ride on Saturday, October 14 covering breweries and beer-drinkers from the past. The bike tour ends with a sampler flight of beers at the Heavy Seas Alehouse (price included with registration), where we’ll hear from some of the folks making beer in Baltimore today.

The next day, October 15, we’ll be at the War Memorial Building for a tour where we can check out the recent window restoration of this historic landmark and then sit down to enjoy a performance by the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra. We’re excited to partner on this program with the orchestra and to offer a second performance on December 3 with new selections and soloists from the JHU Choral Society and Baltimore School for the Arts chorus.

Finally, you can close out the month with a Doors Open bus tour of local architecture and history from downtown to West Baltimore and back again led by Tom Liebel, architect and chair of Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. Our ride will include stops at six wonderful historic places: the 1814 Peale Museum, Union Baptist Church on Druid Hill Avenue, the Arabber Center off of Pennsylvania Avenue, the 1806 St. Mary’s Seminary Chapel in Seton Hill, the Le Mondo art and performance space on Howard Street, and the War Memorial Building near City Hall by architect Laurence Hall Fowler.

Doors Open Baltimore now includes a full weekend with free open houses and self-guided tours of over fifty sites on Saturday, October 28 and dozens of special events and guided tours on Sunday, October 29. We hope you can be part of this fun annual event!

How can you help save Baltimore’s historic places? Support our work. Please become a member or renew your membership today.

With sincere thanks for your past interest and support, I am writing today to ask you to join or renew your membership with Baltimore Heritage.

Baltimore Heritage is a small nonprofit organization. We rely on the many kind people who volunteer their time and commit their support each year to help save Baltimore’s unique historic places.

One historic place we’re helping right now is the Village Learning Place. For the past few months, we’ve worked with the Liesje Gantert, director of the VLP, along with staff and volunteer architects from the Neighborhood Design Center to take a close look at the condition of their former Pratt Library branch on Saint Paul Street. Over the next year, we will build on these efforts to help more local nonprofits improve maintenance of their historic civic spaces across Baltimore. Not all historic buildings are museums: they also provide affordable housing, child care, community meeting space, and more. We are eager to help keep these buildings working well for all the people who rely on them.

In addition to helping us save Baltimore’s historic places, as a member you also get the benefit of discounts on our heritage tour program. With great volunteers like Patricia Hawthorne, who has led our Monumental City tours for years, and new volunteers like Sarah Krum who just started this year, our we are grateful to the many people who make our heritage tours possible. Over the last ten years, our volunteers have organized and led nearly four hundred tours of over two hundred different historic places!

Membership support has been the foundation for nearly eight years of advocacy for the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the nation’s oldest surviving Jewish orphanage. Today, we are a proud partner with the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation in turning this long-threatened and neglected building back into a health care facility for people in West Baltimore. We expect construction to begin soon.

Thank you again for considering joining or renewing your membership, and I hope you can join us on October 3 at Whitehall Mill for our 2017 annual meeting, tour, and reception.

Do you have a good idea for a small local preservation project? Share your plan and you might win a "micro-grant" at our 2017 Pitch Party.

Do you have a good idea for how you can help preserve Baltimore’s historic places? Would a $250 or $500 help you to make it happen? Consider applying for our 2017 Preservation Pitch Party or read on to learn more about how we are giving away four micro-grants this fall.

For the next two weeks, we’ll be taking your suggestions for small preservation projects. We’ll pick the top six ideas on Friday, September 22 and help the people who proposed these promising ideas prepare to make their case. On the evening of October 3, they’ll have just three minutes to make a pitch for why they deserve one of four “micro-grants”. Then, the crowd at Whitehall Mill will have the chance to vote and award two $500 grants and two $250 grants.

We are happy to consider any application related Baltimore’s history and historic places. Eligible projects could include doing repairs at a historic neighborhood park; planning a tour of a historic neighborhood; hosting an event to celebrate Baltimore’s history; or engaging neighborhood youth around preservation and architecture.

We know the amount of the award ($250 or $500) may not be enough to complete your entire project. But we believe a little help can sometimes make a big difference. You do not need to be a designated nonprofit or other incorporated organization to apply. Individuals and informal groups are welcome.

If you have any questions, pease email me at hopkins@baltimoreheritage.org or call our office at 410-332-9992. Whether you submit a proposal or not, you are welcome to join us at Whitehall Mill on October 3; sign up online today!

Two men standing in the street; one is pointing and the other is holding a tape measure.

Upcoming heritage tours, an archaeology volunteer open house, and more fall events Join us at Whitehall Mill on October 3 for a celebratory evening

With summer in the rear view mirror, it’s time to turn to the fall when we hope you can join us on the heritage tours and events we’ve lined up in September and October.

Beginning on Saturday, September 9, we are continuing our monthly tours of Lexington Market “catacombs” and historic vendors. If you missed our Lexington Market tours in the spring, now’s your chance! That afternoon, you are welcome to get involved with the Herring Run Archaeology Project at a volunteer open house where project archaeologists will share updates on the dig and upcoming opportunities.

Thursday, September 12 marks the 137th birthday of H.L. Mencken, and we’re celebrating with a tour: “My Own Two Hands”: A Birthday Tour of the H.L. Mencken House. Our partners, the Friends of the H.L. Mencken House and the Baltimore National Heritage Area, will share the history of the building and its curmudgeonly resident, as well as plans for restoration and reopening. At the end of the month, on Saturday, September 30, we’re taking a one-hour walking tour of Ellicott City, with Preservation Maryland’s executive director Nick Redding. Nick will share a close look at the challenges and progress of the recovery one year after a devastating flood.

On Tuesday, October 3, we are saying thank you to everyone who volunteers with us, joins our heritage tours, and supports Baltimore Heritage as members, donors, and sponsors. We’re hosting an evening of thanks at Whitehall Mill with a reception, a tour of this historic former textile mill, and a chance to help us give away four micro-grants for preservation work in Baltimore. We hope you can join us for this free event and give us the chance to say thank you for all you do.

Large brick building with a sign reading "Whitehall Mill" painted on the side.
Photograph by Brian P. Miller, 2016. Courtesy Baltimore Architecture Foundation.

Baltimore took down four Confederate monuments: what comes next?

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.”

Base of the Taney Monument at Mount Vernon Place after the statue’s removal. Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 August 16.

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.