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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.

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!

Project CORE shares plan for the demolition of 149 vacant buildings in 2017 Share your comments on proposed demolitions in West and East Baltimore

The Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) recently shared their plans to demolish a second round of vacant buildings under the Project CORE program. Since Project CORE (short for Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise) began last January, the program has supported the demolition around three hundred and seventy-five properties and granted around sixteen million in funding for community development projects. We may not find a new use for every vacant building in Baltimore but we want you to know what buildings Project CORE is tearing down and how can you share your comments.

613 S. Monroe Street, Baltimore

In the second year of Project CORE (known as Phase II), the state and Baltimore City are seeking to demolish one hundred and forty-nine buildings (grouped into thirty-eight “demolition clusters”). You can browse the list of demolition clusters in our open Google Sheet or with our interactive map. You can also see photographs of each demolition cluster on Flickr. You can compare this year’s properties to the list we shared last April before the first round of demolition.

1138 Mosher Street, Baltimore

If you look at our sheet, you can see demolition clusters in fifteen different neighborhoods. The largest number of clusters are in West Baltimore neighborhoods including Sandtown-Winchester, Upton, and Harlem Park (all part of the Old West Baltimore Historic District). In East Baltimore, affected neighborhoods include Broadway East, East Baltimore Midway, and Johnston Square. The vacant buildings are a mix of different ages, styles, and sizes. They include the one remaining building from the Alma Manufacturing Company; small, two-story alley houses on Mosher Street; early worker cottages on Lanvale Street; a distressed shingle-sided home in Arlington; and an unusual brick house on Franklintown Road.

78-84 S. Franklintown Road, Baltimore

Although DHCD administers Project CORE, Baltimore Housing selected these demolition clusters for the state. Last year, Baltimore Housing staff met with community groups and shared possible demolition clusters with residents. They also worked with the Baltimore City Department of Planning to collect feedback from residents on their priorities for demolition and community greening as part of the city’s new Green Network Plan.

The state’s preservation review process (commonly known as “Section 106”) gives Baltimore residents, preservation advocates, and community groups another opportunity to share comments or concerns on the proposed demolitions before the state can award funding to demolition contractors.

If you lead community organization affected by this program, we hope you can share any comments with DHCD by contacting Melissa Archer, Project Manager at melissa.archer2@maryland.gov.

We also want to hear your thoughts on Project CORE and these buildings. If we can find a new use for a vacant building, we might be able to avoid a demolition. Your feedback helps us continue to push for reinvestment in historic communities. You can share comments online or contact our director Johns Hopkins at hopkins@baltimoreheritage.org or 410-332-9992.

Finally, we want you to take a look at our new online resource for residents dealing with vacant buildings: Vacant Buildings 101. We are working with the Community Law Center to host workshops and publish an online guide to taking action on vacant buildings in your neighborhood. This program is supported by funding from Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust through the Heritage Fund. Please take a look, share your comments, or sign up to join us at our next Vacant Buildings 101 workshop on March 25.

2858–2860 W. Lanvale Street, Baltimore, 21216

Architects needed to assess the condition of a historic library building in Charles Village Volunteer with the Neighborhood Design Center and Baltimore Heritage to help the Village Learning Place

The Neighborhood Design Center and Baltimore Heritage are searching for an experienced architect, engineer, or contractor who can help assess the condition of one of the original six branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library—a building that now houses the nonprofit Village Learning Place. If you join our team, we need your help in preparing a condition assessment of this St. Paul Street landmark that the Village Learning Place staff and board members can use to prioritize their rehabilitation and preservation projects.

The Village Learning Place is an independent library that houses educational programs, enrichment opportunities, and informational resources for residents in Charles Village and throughout Baltimore City. Over 7,000 Baltimore City residents hold VLP library cards and, at this small brick building, they can find and borrow any of nearly 20,000 circulating books including an excellent collection of children’s literature.

How do you sign up to volunteer?

NDC welcomes volunteers from a range of backgrounds and experiences but this opportunity is best suited to an architect or engineer with previous experience making visual assessments of existing buildings and recommending possible treatments.

  • If you are already registered as a volunteer with NDC, log in to your account then apply for “Village Learning Place Assessment – Senior Designer” on NDC’s list of volunteer opportunities.
  • If you have never volunteered with NDC before, please take two minutes to complete a volunteer application and select “Senior Designer [BaltimoreVillage Learning Place Assessment]” under “Project Sign-Up”.

Please sign up ASAP! Anyone interested in this opportunity can expect to hear back from the Neighborhood Design Center by late January. For questions, please contact Laura Wheaton at lwheaton@ndc-md.org or Eli Pousson at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org.

Courtesy Village Learning Place.

Volunteer to help in the lab for the Herring Run Archaeology Project Sign up to process artifacts from July 9 to August 13

The Herring Run Park Archaeology Project saw some exciting finds in the field this spring. But archaeologists Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer will tell you that archaeology isn’t just about what you find, it’s what you find out! Please join the project’s new volunteer lab manager Karen Hutchins-Keim and student intern Lily Roze Annenberg this summer as we clean and process the artifacts recovered during our archaeological dig this past spring. Go ahead and sign up today!

You do not need any previous experience to participate. High school-aged volunteers are welcome. Working in the lab is a great way to learn how archaeologists identify and analyze artifacts whether they are broken pieces of brick or delicate shards of pottery.

Lab work is scheduled for Saturday afternoons, 12:00pm to 3:00pm, between July 9 and August 13 at the Natural History Society of Maryland at 6908 Belair Road, Baltimore, MD 21206. Space for volunteers is currently limited to five people on each date so sign up soon with your interest.

You can also support the project by making a donation online to help cover the costs of the materials we use to conserve the artifacts. Finally, you can learn more about the dig with series of “Field Notes from Herring Run” that Lisa and Jason shared this past spring.

Artifacts from the Herring Run Archaeology Project, 2016 April 26.
Artifacts from the Herring Run Archaeology Project, 2016 April 26.