Author: Eli

Eli Pousson started as a Field Officer at Baltimore Heritage in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation in October 2009. Prior to moving to Baltimore, Eli worked for the DC Office of Historic Preservation and completed graduate work in anthropology and historic preservation at the University of Maryland College Park. Eli continues to work with the Lakeland Community Heritage Project and other heritage organizations in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Large brick building with a sign reading "Whitehall Mill" painted on the side.

We say “Thank you!” at Whitehall Mill on October 3 Join our community of friends and supporters for a reception, tour, annual meeting, and micro-grant giveaway

At Baltimore Heritage, we rely on support from hundreds of people in and around Baltimore: volunteers who make all our events possible, history-lovers who come on our heritage tours, and people who support our work as members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you!

We hope all of you can be our guests on October 3, 6:00 pm at the historic Whitehall Mill on for a reception, tour, and chance to help us give away four micro-grants for preservation in Baltimore. The evening program is also this year’s annual meeting where we elect board members and officers. Special thanks to Delbert Adams Construction Group for sponsoring this event. Please join us and help guide our work in the year ahead.

Reception & Tour

Enjoy light fare, wine, beer and more! We’ll take a tour through this former 1700s grist mill including the spectacular apartment home of artist Hilton Carter. Mr. Carter has turned his apartment at Whitehall Mill into an oasis with hundreds of plants and his own industry-inspired artwork. He has been featured in Baltimore Magazine and Baltimore Art, and is graciously opening his home for us.

Preservation Micro-Grants

We are giving out four micro-grants of $250 and $500 to deserving preservation efforts in Baltimore. Six people will give three-minute “pitches” of their ideas and then we will ask you to cast a vote for the ideas you’d like us to fund. We’ll learn about some great initiatives underway in Baltimore and have a little fun while helping them out. If you have a good idea, please send it in!

Board Elections

Finally, since our founding in 1960, Baltimore Heritage has been run by a board of directors elected by members who have contributed in the last year. We’ll elect our board and officers for the coming year and hope you will participate. If you haven’t made a membership gift this year, please make a donation today.

Thank you again for supporting Baltimore’s historic buildings and neighborhoods, and for supporting our work to keep them vibrant. We hope you can sign up to join us on Tuesday, October 3 at Whitehall Mill.

Francis Scott Key Monument splashed with red paint and spray painted with the words “Racist Anthem” Graffiti on Eutaw Place sculpture highlights Key's history as a slaveholder

This morning, we learned that the Francis Scott Key Monument at Eutaw Place was splashed with red paint over night and the stone pedestal at the center of the monument was spray painted with the words “Racist Anthem.” The monument by French sculptor Marius Jean Antonin Mercié shows Key standing in a marble rowboat next to a seated bronze sailor. The statue was dedicated on May 15, 1911, and restored in 1999 after a major fundraising campaign by local residents. You can see more photographs of the Key Monument and the graffiti in our Flickr album.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

The spray painted graffiti on the east side of the stone curb surrounding the monument fountain included “Blood on his hands,” “Racist Anthem,” “Fuck FSK,” and “Hater U Just Mad.” On the pavement in front of the monument was written “Slave Owner” and one of the lesser-known stanzas that make up Key’s Star-Spangled Banner:

“No refuge could save, Hireling or slave,
From terror of flight, Or gloom of grave”

The words are a reference to the black men who escaped from slavery in Maryland and Virginia to join the British in their fight against the United States government during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key’s legacy as a slave holder was the subject of a 2016 post from Smithsonian Magazine and a 2014 biography. As a member of the Maryland State Colonization Society, Key also promoted the removal of free black people from Maryland to a colony in present-day Liberia.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks was notified about the condition of the monument early this morning and reached out to the Baltimore City Police Department, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, and other city agencies to file a police report and consider next steps. We have also reached out to the Bolton Hill Architectural Review Committee to alert neighbors to the situation and to help monitor the monument. CHAP and city agencies are working to have the paint and graffiti removed by an art conservator as quickly as possible.

Read more about the Key Monument

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.
A gothic stone church seen from the roof of a building across the street.

Explore the stories of the people (and landmarks) from Baltimore’s Civil Rights movement Please share your comments on the first draft of our local Civil Rights heritage study

Earlier this summer, we completed the first draft of our context study on Baltimore’s Civil Rights heritage. We’ve been working on this project for two years, together with the Maryland Historical Trust and Baltimore National Heritage Area, with funding from the National Park Service, Preservation Maryland, and PNC Foundation. The completed draft covers nearly 150 years of history, politics, activism, and change from 1831 to 1976. This fall, we’re asking you to take a look and share your reactions, comments, and suggestions!

At the beginning of the project in 2015, we created a website where we could share all of our research materials and writing online. By making our research accessible online to students, educators, historians, and activists, we hope to encourage more people to learn about the history of the Civil Rights movement in Baltimore and to preserve the historic places that help tell stories from the movement. We’re using a Creative Commons license for all of our writing and using GitHub (a popular platform for open source projects) to publish the website. Our goal is to make it easier to people to reuse or help improve the resources we’re making for this project.

A black man in uniform and a black woman wearing a dress and bonnet sitting for a portrait with their two daughters on each side.
Unidentified African American soldier in Union uniform with wife and two daughters, c. 1863-1865. Library of Congress.

Where can you find the context study? You can read all six sections of the context study on our website beginning with the overview or you can download a PDF that compiles all six sections into a single document. But you can also browse a map and database of over 350 related sites, buildings, and landscapes we’ve identified during our research. We put together a new tour on Explore Baltimore Heritage, that you can use to find and see a few of these places for yourself. Finally, our timeline of events is an easy way to learn how local events responded to events affecting the Civil Rights movement in Maryland and the United States.

We welcome your comments on anything big or small. Did our study miss an important place or person? Do you think we have part of the history wrong? Did we cover the most relevant themes for each period? You can send us your comments by email to info@baltimoreheritage.org or by using our project feedback form. We also have a separate form if you want to suggest adding a place to our inventory.

A crowd of African American people looking towards a stage set up in front of a large modern office building.
Charles Plaza during the first Afro-American (AFRAM) Exposition, August 7-8, 1976. Special Collections, Langsdale Library, University of Baltimore, rbcae76n0705 (CC BY-NC-ND).

Five and Dime Historic District moves forward after Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation approval Two new districts protect historic buildings in the Market Center area

Baltimore Heritage has advocated for preserving buildings in the Market Center historic district on the west side of downtown for almost twenty years. Six years ago, our campaign for the preservation of Read’s Drug Store (and the threatened five-and-dime stores along the 200 block of W. Lexington Street) helped to bring the history of the proposed Five and Dime historic district to broader public attention and won the stores a temporary reprieve from demolition.

Last week, we testified to support a proposal by the Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation to designate a new local historic district granting the stores, banks, and offices along Lexington, Howard, Liberty and Fayette Streets the lasting protection they deserve. Fortunately, the commission voted to approve the designation and the proposal will continue for a hearing before the City Council before it can be officially designated later this year. The Five and Dime district is one of two new historic districts coming to the area after CHAP approved the new Howard Street district at their hearing on July 11.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 May 9.

We believe that these local district designations will offer a clear, consistent, and predictable design review framework for existing property owners and potential investors. In a welcome change from their position six years ago, the Baltimore Development Corporation is actively supporting the preservation of the city-owned buildings in the Market Center area through stabilization work and new preservation requirements for developers responding to requests for proposals. The districts will also be a tool to protect privately owned buildings from demolition or inappropriate changes.

Courtesy Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation.

The buildings within the new districts are important not just for their architecture but also for the stories of the everyday people who worked and shopped in these buildings: from humble retail clerks to bank executives to student protestors. Preserving the stories of these people is important to the civic identity and memory of Baltimore’s residents, the success of heritage tourism in Baltimore City, and the continued development of the Market Center area.

A four-story tall red brick building with arched windows.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 June 28.

For more information on the history and architecture of the two proposed districts, you can download the CHAP staff report for the Five and Dime Historic District or the report for the Howard Street Historic District. You may also enjoy this look at the history of Lexington Street as the “city’s busiest shopping area” column by Jacques Kelly in the Baltimore Sun.

A green-tinted photograph of a large stone house with overlaid white text reading: "Orianda House at the Crimea Estate"

New tours of the Orianda House, H.L. Mencken House, and more Check out our Jonestown and the Shot Tower tour this Sunday, August 6

After a quiet July, we are back with new tours of historic places all across the city! On August 24, we’re returning to the grand Orianda House at the former Crimea Estate in Gwynns Falls Park. Then, on September 12, we’re celebrating the birthday of Baltimore’s own H.L. Mencken with a tour of his beloved Hollins Street rowhouse.

If you have any visitors in town this summer (or you feel like being a tourist in your own backyard), be sure to check out one of our upcoming Monumental City tours of Jonestown and the Shot Tower this Sunday, August 6, downtown landmarks on August 13, the Washington Monument on August 20, and the Patterson Park Pagoda on August 27. Of course, Lexington Market is open for visitors and local shoppers all year round but you can enjoy a special treat by exploring the market “catacombs” with our latest market tour on September 9.

Finally, you can get outside the city on September 30 as our friends at Preservation Maryland share how historic Ellicott City is recovering from last year’s devastating flood. We hope you are having a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing you on a tour soon!