Author: Marsha

Marsha Wight Wise has been the tour coordinator of Baltimore Heritage since February 2011. Before that, Marsha worked in the association management industry for 15 years. She is also the author of four books on local history. Marsha holds a degree in corporate communications from the University of Baltimore. In 2012 she earned the Certified Tourism Ambassador Designation.

Baltimore Bar Libary

Discover law books, architecture and a rich history Behind the Scenes at the Baltimore Bar Library on May 21

In 1840, a 27-year-old Baltimore lawyer named George William Brown took it upon himself to organize a legal library open to the city’s attorneys. The Library Company of the Baltimore Bar, better known as the Bar Library, was born the same year as Mr. Brown and 43 other Baltimore attorneys opened the library in a room at the old courthouse at Calvert and Lexington Streets. (Mr. Brown, it seems, came from a line of innovators: one grandfather was Rev. Patrick Allison, founder of the First and Franklin Church, and another grandfather was Dr. George Brown, a founding member of the first medical society of Baltimore. Both grandfathers were among the men who founded Baltimore’s first circulating library, the Library Company of Baltimore.)

The Bar Library is one of the oldest dues-supported libraries in the country and contains cases, treatises and other legal material dating back hundreds of years. It also is occupies a fantastic historic space inside the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse. The Main Reading Room is 35 feet by 125 feet and is crowned with a soaring barrel vault ceiling. Rich oak wainscot rises fifteen feet around the room, complemented by carved English oak shelves and wall paneling. Please join us in this wonderful historic space starting at 5:30pm for wine and cheese and a tour with Joe Bennett, Director of the Baltimore Bar Library, will begin at 6:00pm.

Behind the Scenes Tour at Thomas Brown Woodwright highlights architectural millwork and antique machines

Thomas Brown, Woodwright

Thomas Brown, Woodwright custom mills architectural products for historic buildings all over Baltimore and beyond. Amazingly, Thomas Brown does all this mostly on machines that pre-date the Great Depression. The shop uses very few machines built after 1929 and keeps some machines that date as far back as the 1830s. Please join us for a Behind the Scenes Tour of this workshop located in a 1905 former icehouse building in the Remington neighborhood.

Behinds the Scenes at the Thomas Brown, Woodwright Workshop
Wednesday, March 13, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
330 West 23rd Street, Baltimore, 21211
RSVP Today! $15 members | $25 non-members – wine & cheese will be served.
Parking is available on the street. Enter on the Hampden Avenue Side.

You can see Thomas Brown’s handicraft in architectural millwork across the city at places like Hampton Mansion, Evergreen House, and the Garrett Jacobs Mansion. A little further afield, his shop has has helped to restore the Gracie Mansion in New York, the Harvard University Center in Boston, Winterthur Museum in Delaware, and the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Thomas Brown’s workshop has fifteen wood working machines that have vanished from the planet everywhere else except their shop in Remington! What others consider antiquated or outdated, Thomas Brown considers essential to fabricating architectural woodwork for historic buildings.  Please join Mr. Brown as he walks us through his shop sharing the stories of this rare historic wood-working equipment and the architectural woodwork that they produce.

Thomas Brown, Woodwright
Thomas Brown, Woodwright

Let’s Go O’s (and adpative reuse)! Join us for a Behind the Scenes tour of Camden Yards

Camden Station
Camden Station

Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles, is much more than a ballpark. When the park first opened as the new home of our Baltimore’s baseball team in 1992, the buildings had already served the people of Baltimore for over 130 years. Many of us have visited Camden Yards on game day amid the crowds of enthusiastic sports fans. Here is a chance to see the ballpark at a quieter time and to visit places that are not typically open to the public. Our tour will include the dugout, umpires tunnel, press box, club level, and the JumboTron control room. We will hear about the history of baseball in Baltimore while gaining an appreciation for all that goes into making a home for a great team like the Orioles.

Behind the Scenes Tour of Camden Yards
Saturday, March 9, 10:15 am or
Sunday, March 24, 12:30 pm
333 W. Camden Street, Baltimore, 21201
RSVP Today!  $15 members | $25 non-members
Parking is available at lots B & C located between Oriole Park and Ravens Stadium for a fee or visit the MTA website for details on transit options.

The history of Camden Yards began in 1855 when the B&O Railroad started construction on Camden Station. The iconic B&O warehouse  that frames the west side of the stadium today was built between 1899 and 1905. The warehouse is over eight stories tall and over 1,100 feet long – large enough to hold the freight from 1,000 railroad cars. The station remained in active use by the B&O’s passenger trains until the 1980s making it one of the longest continuously operated railroad terminals in the United States. The building has gone through many changes since its original design of a castle-like façade to today’s ballpark. Today, Camden Yards and Camden Station are a nationally known success story for adaptive reuse and a great place to catch a game!

Photograph of Camden Yards, 2006 by Carol Highsmith. Courtesy LOC, LC-DIG-highsm-04854
Photograph of Camden Yards, 2006 by Carol Highsmith. Courtesy LOC, LC-DIG-highsm-04854

Behind the Scenes Tour at Rogers Mansion on January 8


The Mansion House, built by Revolutionary War Colonel Nicholas Rogers, has stood in what is now Druid Hill Park since 1801. The house is the third to stand in this location. Originally a castle known as “Auchentorolie,” built by Rogers’ ancestors, occupied the hill but had burned sometime during the war. Rogers studied architecture in Scotland and most likely became familiar with Druids’ love of nature and hilltops and selected the name “Druid Hill” for his estate. The house was initially planned to be a summer home but during its construction the family home at Baltimore and Light Streets burned and it was decided to use the Druid Hill house year-round. The Mansion remained in the Rogers family until the mid-1800s, when Rogers’ grandson sold the house and lot to Baltimore City for $121,000 in cash and $363,000 in City of Baltimore stock. One stipulation of the sale was that the family burial plot remain property of the family, and the plot is still in place today in the park.

The Mansion House has seen many rebirths. In 1863, during the park movement in Baltimore City, the house was greatly modified. Under the direction of John H. B. Latrobe, it was turned into a pavilion and updated in the Victorian style. By 1935, the porches were enclosed and the house became a restaurant. In the 1940s, the building was used as a day school for the Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association.  The Zoo, which had begun developing around the mansion beginning in 1867, used the building as its bird house from the 1950s until its restoration in 1978. The restoration efforts took the house back to its 1860s design. Just last year, the Mansion underwent its most recent restoration and repair work, including much needed wood restoration and structural shoring. The building today house’s the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s administrative offices and event rental space. Please join us on a tour of the nooks and crannies of the Mansion by the restoration contractor, Tony Azola of The Azola Companies, and a short walk through the history of the Mansion and the Zoo by Ms. Lori Finkelstein, Vice President of Education, Interpretation, and Volunteer Programs (and unofficial historian) at the Zoo.

Behind the Scenes Tour at Rogers Mansion

Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
1876 Mansion House Drive, Baltimore, MD 21217
RSVP Today! $15 members | $25 non-members (wine & cheese will be served)
Follow signs to the administration building. Parking is available in front of the mansion and along the drive.


Happy Birthday Davidge Hall, Victorian Charm in Reservoir Hill and a Holiday tour of the Orianda House

Happy 200th Birthday, Davidge Hall!

Thursday, November 29, 2012, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
522 W. Lombard Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
RSVP Today! $15 members | $25 non-members (wine & cheese will be served)
Parking is available on the street and in nearby garages.

HABS MD,4-BALT,59-2, courtesy LOC/Wikipedia

Join us in celebrating Davidge Hall’s 200th birthday. Named after its founder and first dean, John Beale Davidge, Davidge Hall was constructed in 1812 as the founding medical school building of what is now the University of Maryland School of Medicine. With its surgical theater in the round classroom, called Anatomical Hall, and semi-circular Chemical Hall below it, it is hard to imagine a more wonderful architectural backdrop for students to watch the latest techniques in surgery and learn anatomy through the careful dissection of cadavers.

The building is recognized as the oldest medical facility in the country continuously used for medical education, and since 1812 all of the University’s medical graduates have passed through its doors at one time or another during their training. It is even said that from the porch one could watch the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814. The building recently has been meticulously restored, and won a historic preservation award from Baltimore Heritage! Please join us and our tour guide, Mr. Larry Pitrof, Executive Director of the Medical Alumni Association of the University of Maryland Medical School, on a tour of this grand historic gem.

Victorian Charm in Reservoir Hill

Tuesday, December 4, 2012, 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm
2450 Eutaw Place, Baltimore, MD 21217
RSVP Today! $15 members | $25 non-members (wine & cheese will be served)
Parking is available on the street.

Image courtesy Hugh Pickens

While Baltimore is known for its row houses, the Reservoir Hill neighborhood took these iconic structures to a higher, grander level of Victorian architecture at the turn of the 20th century. Chief among the grand dames is 2450 Eutaw Place, a 12,000 square foot mansion that was first the home of John Knox Shaw (1845-1905), a founding member of Shaw Brothers coal merchants. Mr. Shaw built the house in 1895 as a stand-alone home and one of the first houses on Reservoir Hill. With incredible woodwork of Hunduras mahogany, a marble vestibule and marble mantles throughout, and fleur de lis tiles, the house was obviously a testiment to Mr. Shaw’s wealth and taste. But if a coal merchant constructed the fine house, a beer baron took it further.

The second owner of the home was Frederick Bauernschmidt (1863-1933), founder of the American Brewery. Mr. Bauernschmidt added a portecochèreand driveway to the outisde, and a new level on the first floor for a music room where an orchestra would sit to provide live music for parties. Please join us on a tour of this wonderful house as its current owner, Ms. Larcia Premo, shares her story of living and raising kids in turn-of-the-century grandeur and neighborhood historian Mr. Kelly Terrill shares some of the history of this great neighorhood.

Tree Trimming Party and Tour at Orianda House

Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
1901 Eagle Drive, Baltimore, MD 21207
RSVP Today! $10 members with a canned good donation | $15 non-members
(Holiday cheer will be served)
There is limited parking near the house.  Parking is also available in the lot nearest the entrance from Forest Park Avenue.

Image courtesy laura1119_photos/photobucket

Please plan to join us for an old fashion tree-trimming party and tour of historic Orianda House in Leakin Park. Every year Orianda House invites local non-profit associations to decorate a tree representing their organization. Baltimore Heritage has participated in this event for the last few years. This year, we want to share the fun, and include a tour of this great historic building. We will provide decorations and invite you to bring an ornament that represents Baltimore if you feel so inspired. Also, in the spirit of giving, we ask that you bring a canned good to be donated to a local food bank. And, of course, we will be touring the house. Orianda House was built around 1856 by Thomas Winans as a summer home. Winans built the first railroads in Russia and was the son of Ross Winans of B&O Railroad fame. The house reflects Mr. Winans’ desire for a grand country estate. We hope you can join us for this festive event.