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.
Early this afternoon we got a call from a neighbor in Upton’s Marble Hill, alerting us that Public School 103, Thurgood Marshall’s elementary school, was on fire. The Baltimore City Fire Department is still working to contain the fire but the damage is clearly devastating. The roof is destroyed across large portions of the building and the interior has suffered terrible damage.
Public School 103 was built on Division Street in 1877. The school changed from serving white to black students in 1910 when it was first used for students from nearby Public School No. 112. In March 1911, the school was officially designated Public School 103. Thurgood Marshall began attending the school just three years later and continued as a student up through 8th grade in 1921. Today, many Baltimoreans remember it as the “Division Street School” or Henry Highland Garnet Elementary School. After the school closed in the early 1970s, the Upton Planning Committee moved in. The Upton Planning Committee continued to use the structure for arts and cultural programs and community meetings up until they vacated the building in the 1990s.
While the building had stood vacant for many years, Baltimore City and the Baltimore National Heritage Area had been working to promote the reuse and rehabilitation of the building. Building on the work of a Mayoral Commission established in 2008, the Heritage Area led efforts to repair the building’s roof and remove asbestos. Baltimore Housing solicited development proposals for the building last year as part of the Vacants to Value surplus surplus property sale.
Read more about today’s fire from the Baltimore Sun or read the PS 103 Commission reports for more on the history of the building. We are will continue working with the Baltimore National Heritage Area, Upton residents, and supporters of Baltimore’s Civil Rights heritage to preserve Public School 103 and recover from this difficult setback.
After a year of input from Baltimore residents and our continued work through the Section 106 preservation review process, we are seeing real changes to the B&P Tunnel Project. Two public meetings this month are an opportunity for you to get an update on the project including new alternatives for the ventilation plant sited for Reservoir Hill.
The Herring Run Park archaeology project is back for a second year of field work at site of Eutaw Manor from Saturday, April 23 to Sunday, April 30. If you want to join the dig as a volunteer, you do not need any previous experience with archaeology. Please go sign up online today to pick the dates that work best for you. You can expect to hear back from the project team within the next two weeks with more details on the spring schedule.
Local archaeologists (and northeast Baltimore residents) Jason Shellenhamer and Lisa Kraus started the search for remains of the former country estate in Herring Run Park back in 2014. Last spring, Jason and Lisa worked in partnership with Baltimore Heritage and the Northeast Baltimore History Roundtable on a week-long dig that brought dozens of volunteers and over a hundred visitors to Herring Run Park to learn about the history of the site and join in the hands-on search for Baltimore history. You can read their Field Notes from Herring Run chronicling the exciting finds on our blog.
If you are interested in bringing a school group to the site for an hour-long field educational field trip, please contact Jason and Lisa by email email@example.com. We are also planning a community open house on April 30 where anyone interested in the project is welcome to come out and learn more about the dig.
For the past two years, Baltimore Housing has worked to find developers for unique vacant properties through their Vacants to Value Surplus Sale. In 2015, Baltimore Housing listed 18 properties for development including historic school buildings, firehouses, and rowhouses located in neighborhoods across the city.
Earlier this week, we learned that the city has issued awards for seven properties including the former Druid Health Center/Home of the Friendless in Marble Hill and the Upton Mansion. In a press release, Deputy Commissioner of Land Resources Julia Day praised the variety and care the city saw from the selected developers: “From rental and market rate housing projects to a music & arts complex for youth and studio space aimed at Baltimore’s budding music scene – the applications were well thought out and sure to enhance our City assets.”
There is plenty of work ahead for the developers putting these vacant historic buildings back into use but the announcement is still encouraging news. The properties and developers include:
2200 block of E. Biddle Street awarded to Cross Street Partners, City Life Builders, and Chesapeake Habitat for Humanity (seven row houses in the Middle East neighborhood)
1401 E. Biddle Street awarded to Redbrick LMD (a former charter school connected to the Madison Square Recreation Center in the Gay Street neighborhood)
1313 Druid Hill Avenue awarded to The Aziz Group (the former Home of the Friendless/Druid Health Center in Upton)
24 N. High Street awarded to Leon & Dorothy Wigglesworth (a commercial storefront in the Jonestown neighborhood)
811 W. Lanvale Street awarded to C & A, Inc. (the former Upton Mansion in the Upton neighborhood)
Baltimore Housing is encouraging developers interested in any of the remaining 2015 surplus properties to send in an unsolicited bid by March 31, 2016. These remaining properties include:
800 block of Edmondson Avenue
800 block of Harlem Avenue
3101 Presbury Street
4701 Yellowwood Road
4800 block of Pimlico Road
5002 Frederick Avenue
5837 Belair Road
707-713 E. 34th Street
1315–1327 Division Street (Former Public School 103)
1500-1600 blocks of Edmondson Avenue
1749-1757 Gorsuch Avenue (Former Engine Company No. 33)
2950-2966 Mosher Street
You can find more information about any of these properties from Vacants to Value or contact Baltimore Housing at 410-396-4111. To help encourage the development of these buildings, we created a new map highlighting auctions, real estate listings, and development opportunities in Baltimore City. Please take a look at the opportunity map and get in touch with your thoughts on how we can keep improving this new resource.
On January 12, the Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) voted unanimously to add the George W. King/Abraham Briscoe House at 1232 Druid Hill Avenue to the city’s historic potential landmark list. Baltimore Heritage worked closely with the Marble Hill Community Association to prepare the landmark nomination. CHAP clearly saw how important it is to save places tied to Baltimore’s African American and Civil Rights heritage—especially after tragic loss of the Freedom House at 1234 Druid Hill Avenue this past fall. The experiences of Abraham Briscoe and the generations of Baltimoreans who lived at 1232 Druid Hill Avenue reflects the history of the Great Migration, racial segregation and the Civil Rights movement in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Fortunately, potential landmark designation protects 1232 Druid Hill Avenue from demolition for the next six months. But because this is only a potential landmark nomination, these protections run out in July unless the Baltimore City Council takes action first. If a member of the City Council introduces an ordinance to list the property as a full city landmark before July, the protections are immediately extended for another eighteen months. If the City Council votes to approve the ordinance and the Mayor signs it into law before the end of that period, the city gives 1232 Druid Hill Avenue landmark status forever.
Last week, we reached out to Councilman Eric Costello (who represents the Upton neighborhood as part of the 11th District) to ask him to join us in protecting this landmark and introduce a landmark designation ordinance. If you are resident of the 11th District, we urge you to reach out to Councilman Costello and share your own support for preserving 1232 Druid Hill Avenue by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saving 1232 Druid Hill Avenue from demolition is an important step forward in our efforts to preserve Baltimore’s Civil Rights Heritage. We are interested in working with Bethel AME Church to see 1232 Druid Hill Avenue redeveloped for use as a home or community space. We are working residents to expand the Marble Hill Historic District and protect other properties at the edges of the district. We are supporting neighborhood activists fighting for the stabilization of the Harry S. Cummings House at 1318 Druid Hill Avenue. Please subscribe for updates on Baltimore’s Civil Rights heritage for ongoing updates on these efforts and share your own thoughts in the comments.