Happy New Year! We are kicking off the year exploring some of Baltimore longstanding historical questions. First up on February 2 is Baltimore historian and educator Wayne R. Schaumburg, who will talk on Baltimore’s role in the American Revolution, including the burning question: did George Washington sleep here?
On February 9, we are pleased that Baltimore historian Jamie Hunt will be back with a Valentine’s Day-themed tour of romance in Mount Vernon. For two centuries, the neighborhood has seen spectacular love stories, bitter feuds, and more than a few juicy trysts. Indulge in sweet intrigue and uncover some Gilded Age gossip with us.
Finally, you may ask how historic Laurel is connected to Baltimore? Originally called Laurel Factory, the settlement started as a 19th century milltown with ties to Baltimore along the B&O Railroad. On February 9, join us and our guide Ann Bennett, Executive Director of the Laurel Historical Society, for a walking tour of the town. As we soak in the historic atmosphere alongside the Patuxent River, you’ll be asking yourself why you hadn’t explored Laurel sooner.
We can’t wait to spend the beginning of 2020 with you at these tours and talks.
PS: Mark your calendars for our winter/spring talks at the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion:
We are happy to share that Baltimore Heritage has begun accepting nominations for our 2020 Preservation Awards. Please send us a nomination and help us celebrate award-worthy work, from rehabbing buildings to volunteering as a tour guide or on an archeology dig. Nominations are due February 21 and self nominations are encouraged.
Our awards recognize preservation work of all kinds. Our Heritage Achievement Awards honor people who have made a contribution to Baltimore’s historic buildings and neighborhoods, including authors, advocates, community organizers, and neighbors who volunteer their time and talents.
Our Preservation Project Awards honor owners, architects, contractors, and craftspeople who have completed bricks-and-mortar projects, from restoring a historic rowhouse to creating new spaces in a former brewery or factory. We know that preservation work comes in all sizes and often requires a whole team of people, and we seek to recognize everybody who makes a rehab project happen.
On December 10, I joined dozens of supporters at the second Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) hearing for the Woodberry Local Historic District. The hearing was a crucial step toward making the local historic district a reality, a move that will provide stronger preservation oversight and give the community more say about its future. I was there as a Woodberry resident and representative of the Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance, the community’s historic preservation organization and a partner of Baltimore Heritage. Joining me were dedicated members of the Woodberry Community Association, and allies at Baltimore Heritage, Preservation Maryland, and the Friends of The Jones Falls.
Overwhelming support led CHAP commissioners to unanimously recommend the Woodberry Local Historic District be introduced as a bill to City Council. The victory was the result of months of community organizing. The hardest part is yet to come.
After the Woodberry Local Historic District is introduced to City Council, a third public hearing will be held by the Baltimore City Planning Commission. Our goal is that the local historic district move through with the recommendations CHAP unanimously approved at the December 10 hearing. These recommendations have the overwhelming support of the Woodberry community. They speak to the national historic significance of Woodberry and a future that respects its historic fabric, providing oversight for its factories and the historic homes of its workers.
Thank you to everyone who has shown support by writing letters, sharing with friends and neighbors, and taking the time to attend hearings. We’ll need your support again soon. After the next hearing, we’ll be close to the finish line. Woodberry is to Maryland what Lowell is to Massachusetts. Your support will help to protect this treasure and encourage future development that is mindful of the Woodberry’s meaningful past.
Even though we’re in the midst of the 2019 holiday season, we can’t help but share two new tours we just lined up for the new year and hope you will put them on your 2020 calendar.
On Tuesday, January 7, we are excited to offer a tour of M&T Bank Stadium, “From Pianos to Pigskins: Ravens Stadium Then and Now.” We’ll explore the stadium from the suite-level to the locker-rooms and learn about the enormous 1869 Knabe Piano Factory that once sat at the same location. Join us for this touchdown tour to talk about both football players and piano players.
On Thursday, January 23, we’re touring Zeke’s Coffee Roastery to learn about this Baltimore business’s unique roasting process, as well as a little of the history of Baltimore’s coffee trade. In 2005 when Thomas Rhodes founded Zeke’s, he joined a long line of coffee connoisseurs going back over 200 years in Baltimore. We hope to see you on the 23rd: it will be espresso-ily energizing!
From all of us at Baltimore Heritage, we wish you a happy holiday season and thank you again for all your interest and support.
— Johns Hopkins, Executive Director
P.S., If you have not renewed your membership, we humbly suggest now would be a great time to do so. And for last minute shoppers, Baltimore Heritage memberships make great holiday presents!
All of our core programs at Baltimore Heritage rely on volunteers to plan them, organize them, and run them. We’d like you to meet some of these great people, and so we’re starting a series called Volunteer Spotlight to share a little about those who are helping us make a difference.
Our first Volunteer Spotlight features Richard Messick, who has been volunteering with Baltimore Heritage since 2014. When he began working with us, he was first tasked with captioning photos and editing articles for our website. Then Baltimore Heritage received a grant for the Legacy Business Program, and Richard jumped in. To date, he has identified, researched, and written articles on 10 Legacy Businesses that have operated in the city for a century or more. Richard also fabulously leads our tour, Catacombs, 100-Year Vendors and History at Lexington Market, and is a volunteer docent at Evergreen House.
In addition to our gratitude for all of Richard’s work, here’s what one happy tour participant recently said after taking Baltimore Heritage’s tour at Evergreen: “I recently took a friend to the Xmas tour of Evergreen. It was a first experience for both of us and one not to be missed by anyone interested in art, architecture or design. Our guide, Richard Messick, was excellent and knew the house backwards and forwards.”
Read the below Q&A session to get to know a little more about Richard.
Q: How did you get involved with Baltimore Heritage?
A: I grew up with Andrew Colletta, a Baltimore Heritage board member, and we cut our tour-guide-teeth exploring Baltimore together. We would take visiting friends on our “Funky Balmer Tour,” a circuit of hidden gems around the city that always ended with a deli stop. Andrew first told me about Baltimore Heritage.
In fact, Andrew and I became friends because of our mutual love of exploring. Baltimore is our home town. I was born in Baltimore, at the old St. Joseph’s Hospital when it was at Caroline and Oliver Streets.
Q: How long have you lived in Baltimore?
A: Besides an 11 year hiatus elsewhere, I have spent my whole life in Baltimore. Both parents were born and raised here.
Q: Where would you recommend new Baltimoreans go to learn about the city?
A: Highlandtown would probably be my first stop because its where so many ethnic mixes got their start. It’s still a wonderful mix of ethnicities and still a place to enjoy a variety of foods and meet different people. Food is the start in terms of getting to know another culture.
A: Evergreen [House]. It has a rich history and is filled with art—Asian ceramics; Japanese netsuke; 20th century paintings, sculpture, and art glass.
Q: What about Baltimore doesn’t get enough attention?
A: The legacy of slavery in Baltimore. Since I have delved into it, I have been amazed at what I don’t know. I have never considered the enormous market for enslaved people in Baltimore and Maryland during the 19th century. The marketing of people was very large here at that time. The change from raising tobacco to wheat in the region caused a surplus of labor, whereas the South needed more labor due to the invention of the cotton gin. Our country was built with cheap labor–indentured servants, slaves, and prisoners. We don’t give that enough attention.
Q: In one word, describe Baltimore:
A: Worn–like comfortable old clothes. The people and places are comfortable old clothes to me. My aforementioned life-long friend thinks Baltimore suffers from an inferiority complex, which may be true. We just need to put on our Sunday best a little more often just to remind ourselves of our rich, long and diverse history.