Read our position on this issue

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In 2017 then Mayor Catherine Pugh removed three memorials to the Confederacy and one statue of the author of the infamous Dred Scott decision that were erected with racist motivations and caused pain for many in our Baltimore community. Standing in our city today, there are other public monuments whose presence memorialize the oppression of Black people and people of color. These are also painful. For too long, too many people in the historic preservation movement have either discounted the ongoing harsh suffering that some public memorials are causing, or have remained silent. Since 1960, Baltimore Heritage has been Baltimore’s city-wide historic preservation nonprofit organization. We believe that we have an obligation to address this issue directly and that now is the time to speak out clearly. Below is our position.

  • We support the removal of public monuments that were erected with racist intent to memorialize white supremacy.
  • We believe that there are monuments standing in Baltimore today that continue to cause pain for many.
  • We support a process to discuss steps that we as Baltimoreans can take regarding our public memorials that is open to all, validates different points of view, considers creative approaches, and has goals of fostering reconciliation and creating a public realm where all feel welcome.
  • We believe that any actions taken to standing monuments should be done by city officials to ensure public safety.
  • We believe that our elected officials in Baltimore City have an obligation to lead a discussion over public memorials and we as an organization commit to participating.

—Johns Hopkins, Executive Director

Mapping Sites of Baltimore’s Slave Trade on This Juneteenth

Baltimore Heritage is thrilled that Juneteenth is receiving more attention this year. This day commemorates when the last enslaved people received news of emancipation. In recognition of this profound holiday, we would like to share some information on Baltimore’s role in the slave-trade in the 19th century. One of our dedicated volunteers, Richard Messick, has spearheaded this research and in his guest blog below, he gives us some insight into what he has found. Thank you Richard!

I once took a tour at Hampton National Historic Site by Park Ranger Anokwale Anansesemfo called “Forced Servitude at Hampton.” The tour described the variety of labor used by the Ridgely family to operate their estate: indentured servants, prisoners of war, and the enslaved community. It was a profound and moving experience that sent me off on a research project to learn more about slavery in Baltimore.

After its incorporation in the late 18th century, the population of Baltimore grew very quickly. One of the many “trades” that grew along with the city was the sale of enslaved people. Two things contributed to this phenomenon. First, local farmers had shifted from a labor-intensive tobacco crop to the growing of cereal grains, which required less work. This caused a surplus of slave labor. Secondly, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793. This new machine could quickly and easily separate cotton fibers from their seeds. From this, the cotton industry became incredibly profitable, which caused an increase in the need for cheap and enslaved labor in the South.

The market for the sale of people that grew up in and around Maryland was extensive. From here, I began locating and mapping the places in early 19th century Baltimore where enslaved people were sold. One resource in particular, Ralph Clayton’s book, Cash for Blood: The Baltimore to New Orleans Domestic Slave Trade, was very helpful. Although many of the associated buildings no longer exist, the overall map shows the deeply interwoven relationship between the trade of human beings and our streets of Baltimore.

— Richard Messick

Baltimore Heritage 2020 Preservation Award Winners

On behalf of all of us at Baltimore Heritage, we would like to congratulate the winners of our 2020 Historic Preservation Awards. These people and their work are saving some of Baltimore’s most important historic places and transforming our city’s neighborhoods. Thank you!

We had been planning an in-person celebration for June to recognize the winners, but are canceling it because of the coronavirus. We are still thinking through how to celebrate this year’s awardees virtually and please stay tuned for that. In the meantime, take a look at the list below and if you know any of them, please reach out and say congratulations. They deserve it.

*If you were part of an award-winning project, and you were not listed below, please let us know.

Restoration and Rehabilitation Awards:

113 West Ostend Street

  • Mr. Joshua Parker
  • Labyrinth Properties LLC
  • Cole Builders LLC

421 George Street

  • Matthew and Megan Strott

500 South Ann Street Store Front

  • David H. Gleason Associates
  • Contraction Administration Services

2318 Mount Royal Terrace

  • Ruth Wright

3840 Bank Street

  • Urban Design Group LLC

Beth Am Synagogue

  • Beth Am Synagogue
  • Alexander Design Studio
  • Red Sketch Landscape Architecture
  • Colbert, Matz Rosenfelt, Inc
  • Acoustical Design Collaborative, LTD
  • Carney Engineering
  • Henry Adams, LLC
  • Flux Studio
  • CapEx Advisory Group
  • Southway Builders
  • David Hess 

Clifton Mansion Dining Room

  • Thomas Moore Studio
  • Gillian Quinn
  • Laurie Timm
  • Mariah Gillis
  • Sue Crawford
  • Bridget Cimino
  • Ewa Pohl
  • Vincent Green Architects
  • Matthew Mosca
  • Henry Johnson
  • Tom McCracken
  • Friends of Clifton Mansion
  • C&H Restoration
  • Brough Schamp
  • Erik Kvalsvik

H.L. Mencken House and Museum

  • Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy, Inc.
  • Azola Building Rehab, Inc.
  • Manifold Design
  • Baltimore National Heritage Area
  • Baltimore City Department of General Services
  • Baltimore Office of the Mayor
  • Washington Place Equities
  • Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation
  • P & E Engineering & Consulting, LLC
  • JLR Design Consultants, Inc.

Johns Hopkins University Maryland Hall Cupola

  • Johns Hopkins University
  • SM+P Architects
  • Lewis Contractors
  • Worcester Eisenbrandt

Ministry of Brewing

Adaptive Reuse and Compatible Design Awards:

Hoen & Co Lithograph

  • 2101 East Biddle LLC
  • Cross Street Partners
  • City Life Historic Properties
  • Ziger/Snead LLP
  • 1200 Architectural Engineers Pllc
  • Kovacs Whitney & Associates
  • James Posey Associates
    STV, Inc
  • Michael S. Walkley, P.A.
  • Budova Engineering
  • Froehling & Robertson, Inc
  • Urban Green Environmental
  • Betty Bird & Associates LLC
  • EHT Traceries Historic Preservation
  • Cohn Reznick LLP
  • Reinvestment Fund (TRF)

  • City First Bank
  • PCG
  • Department of Commerce
  • U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation
  • City First New Markets Fund II, LLC
  • National Trust Community Investment Corp
  • Telesis Corporation
  • Baltimore City
  • Ace Environmental Services, Inc
  • Fence Masters
  • Knockorp LLC
  • SHE Excavating, Inc
  • English Concrete, Inc
  • Fleet Electric Inc
  • Kevson Services Group
  • Best Fence
  • Ruppert Landscaping
  • Watchmen, LLC
  • Worcester Eisenbrandt

Ministry of Brewing

  • Present Company
  • Jeff Hunt
  • Michael Powell
  • Ernst Valery
  • D.A. Drenner Concrete Construction, Inc
  • Quiet Floors Systems LLC
  • Elite Restoration of Maryland
  • Neuner Masonry Company Inc
  • Wilson Point Steel, Inc.
  • Slaghammer’s Welding
  • Majer Metal Works
  • L McCoy Framing Co, Inc.
  • Loudoun Stairs
  • Reisterstown Lumber
  • Heidler Roofing
  • North American Roofing
  • CNC  Roofing LLC
  • ACW Inc

  • Fullview Aluminum & Glass
  • Revolution Windows Systems
  • Tegeler Construction & Supply
  • Unified Door & Hardward Group, LLC
  • CEV Building Systems LTD
  • Eastwood Painting & Contracting, Inc
  • Business Flooring
  • Polished Concrete Systems, Inc.
  • MD Partitions
  • Mats Inc
  • Livingston Fire Protection Inc.
  • Scaffold Resources LLC
  • Delaware Elevator
  • Fidelity Mechanical Services
  • Benchmark Automation & Controls
  • Pro Vigil
  • J. Poist Gas Co
  • KMT Disposal

A. Hoen & Co Lithograph

Special Recognition for Once-in-a-Lifetime Restoration and Rehabilitation Work:

Center for Health Care and Healthy Living at the Baltimore Hebrew Orphan Asylum

  • Ballard Spahr LLC
  • Baltimore City Health Department
  • Behavioral Health System of Baltimore
  • C.L. McCoy Framing Co.
  • Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation
  • Cross Street Partners
  • Reinvestment Fund
  • Southway Builders
  • Waldon Studios Architects

Enoch Pratt Free Library

  • Enoch Pratt Free Library
  • Beyer Blinder Belle
  • Ayers Saint Gross
  • Mueller
  • Sustainable Building Partners
  • WFT
  • AMT Engineering
  • Jensen Hughs
  • Spexsys
  • Restl
  • VDA
  • Tillotson Design
  • ASSA ABLOY
  • Cerami & Associates
  • Gilbane
  • Baltimore Department of General Services
  • SVA 

Heritage Preservation Awards:

Henry Holt Hopkins, for leadership in restoring the Washington Monument, Clifton Mansion, and the Clifton Gardener’s Cottage

Charlie Duff, for helping us understand Baltimore’s historic and contemporary development through his book North Atlantic Cities 

Doors Open Baltimore, for helping thousands of people appreciate Baltimore’s historic places through its annual Doors Open Baltimore event

Dr. Gary Rodwell, for dedication to completing the renovation of the Baltimore Hebrew Orphan Asylum and commitment to revitalizing historic communities in West Baltimore

Douglas Gordon Lifetime Achievement Award:

David H. Gleason, FAI

David Gleason has been a preservation leader in Baltimore for over 50 years, including serving on the board of directors of Baltimore Heritage, as president of the Fell’s Point Preservation Society, as a commissioner at CHAP, as a volunteer in efforts to preserve neighborhoods like Lafayette Square and Market Center, and in countless historic restoration projects he undertook as a professional architect. 

Thank you to our sponsors!

Lead Sponsors

  • GLB Concrete
  • Hord Coplan Macht
  • Lewis Contractors
  • PNC
  • Quinn Evans Architects
  • Southway Builders
  • Zeskind’s Hardware and Millwork

Sponsors

  • AGM Financial
  • brennan + company architects
  • Discern Health
  • GWWO, Inc.
  • Roland Park Place
  • Poverni Sheikh Group
  • Murphy & Dittenhafer
  • Terra Nova Ventures
  • Whiting Turner
  • Ziger Snead

How Canton Got Its Name (Probably)

We recently shared one of our Five Minute Histories videos on Captain John O’Donnell and the early origins of the Canton neighborhood. We asked the question of whether Canton really got its name from O’Donnell, a ship captain who traded in Canton, the anglicized name of Guangzhou, China. And we got the help we needed! 

Minutes after we published our video, Baltimore historian Wayne Schaumburg replied with some insight. Apparently we are not the first folks to wonder about this, and a book called Historic Canton by Norman Rukert may shed some light. Here’s the gist of the story. 

In 1935, two members of the Maryland Historical Society looked into whether Captain O’Donnell was the source of the name Canton. Based on meticulous research, Dr. Henry Berkley mapped out the area into original land grants, quit rents, and Calvert Family papers. His colleague James Hancock looked at the map and noticed that in 1652 (yes, 1652!) there were two parcels near today’s Baltimore that he read as “North Canton” and “South Canton.” This would have been over 100 years before John O’Donnell sailed into Baltimore in 1785 as one of the first American captains to trade with China. 

From the book, “Historic Canton,” by Norman Ruckert

However, the author of Historic Canton, Norman Rukert, didn’t fully believe Hancock’s reading of the word Canton and so he went back to the original Calvert papers himself. He found the parcels were not called Canton, but Conton with an “o” not an “a.” Humm.

To make matters more confusing, a reporter from the “East Baltimore Guide” then took a stab at the original research. He found the 1652 reference to the Conton parcels, and another reference dating to 1682, 30 years later but still way before Captain O’Donnell’s time. In this reference, one Robert Clarkson transferred a 245-acre parcel called Conton and later in the same document transferred the same 245-acre parcel but this time called it Canton. Didn’t anybody teach spelling back then?

Despite the flip-flops in spelling, the final chapter of the saga sheds some light. Upon investigation with the State Archives, the East Baltimore Guide reporter found that the locations of the parcels in question named either Conton or Canton (or both!) are described as on the west side of the Chesapeake and on the south side of the Patapsco near a place called Rumly Marsh. That’s all it took for the intrepid reporter to know for certain that these early parcels had nothing to do with Captain O’Donnell’s land. He knew that although today’s Canton could be described as being on the west side of the Chesapeake, it is certainly not on the south side of the Patapsco and is nowhere near Rumly Marsh.

So, whatever parcels may have been called Conton or Canton in the 1600s, they were not the nearly 2000-acre parcel that Captain O’Donnell amassed in the late 1700s and is today’s Canton neighborhood. We know that the good captain called his estate Canton, and the dogged search through historical records shows he was almost certainly the first one to do so. Case closed, we say! 

New Five Minute Histories Project: Join Us to Virtually Explore Baltimore!

We are launching a new series called Five Minute Histories. Each day, we’ll record a short video about a different historic place in Baltimore. My on-site production crew consists of my 14 year old daughter and 15 year old son, and we are honoring Governor Hogan’s request and are doing this from home.

In the days ahead, we’ll explore Civil Rights history, mercantile history, immigration history, religious history, and a whole lot more. Although we sorely wish we could be out and about with you in person, please stay safe and check us out online each day as we try to bring a new historic site to you.

Click here to see all the videos and look for updates everyday! You can also go to our Facebook page or YouTube channel. 


— Johns Hopkins, Executive Director


P.S. If you have suggestions for places to explore, please shoot me an email!