Did you know that Baltimore has the nation’s oldest iron working company? G. Krug & Son Ironworks has stood in the same building just a block from Lexington Market since 1810, and today produces fantastic iron pieces as it has for over two hundred years. On Wednesday, March 20, Peter Krug is sharing the history of the business on our Behind the Scenes tour. As a member of the fifth generation of the Krug family to run the business, Peter not only knows the history but will also demonstrate ironworking on machines that are nearly as old as the company itself!
On Sunday, March 24, we’re looking forward to a talk by author Antero Pietila on his new book The Ghosts of Johns Hopkins: The Life and Legacy that Shaped an American City. We are pleased to offer this event at the Engineers Club as part of our ongoing lecture series with the Garrett Jacobs Mansion Endowment Fund.
We also still have a few spots left for this Sunday’s Mount Vernon Love Stories tour with local historian Jamie Hunt. With a morning tour at 11:00 am and an afternoon tour at 1:00 pm, we hope you can join us to hear some great tales of jilted lovers and secret trysts spanning over two hundred years while learning about the history about this great historic neighborhood.
Finally, we are asking you to share your nominations for the city’s best preservation projects over the past year. Do you know somebody who has done a wonderful rehab on their house? Or who has organized volunteers to help restore a neighborhood landmark? We’d love to hear their story. Our online nomination process is simple, and I am always here try to help and answer questions. Please take a minute and help us recognize the people who are working to ensure our historic buildings and neighborhoods continue to be vibrant places.
Keep your hat and coat by the door, and I hope to see you on some the upcoming talks and tours.
We need your help to find the past year’s best preservation projects as we get ready to give out our 2019 Preservation Awards. Please send in your a nomination by Friday, February 22!
Last year’s award recipients included the rehabilitation of Baltimore Center Stage, the restoration of the school library at Baltimore City College, the transformation of the Rec Pier into the Sagamore Pendry Hotel, and a book of photographs showing Baltimore’s unique collection of historic theaters. Our Preservation Project Awards recognize property owners, architects, contractors, and craftspeople who have recently completed rehabilitation, restoration, and adaptive reuse projects. Our Heritage Achievement Awards honor individual and organizations who have supported Baltimore’s historic buildings and neighborhoods through writing, advocacy, education, and community service.
Hang on to your hats and fight back the February “blahs” by coming out for one of our upcoming talks and tours. On Sunday, February 10, we’re teaming up with the Jewish Museum of Maryland to offer a ”two-fer” tour of historic synagogues. We’ll start with a walk through the 174-year-old Lloyd Street Synagogue (the third oldest synagogue in the country!) and then head down the block to visit the ornately-detailed B’Nai Israel which maintained the Jewish community presence in East Baltimore since the 1870s.
On Sunday, February 17, we’re bringing back Jamie Hunt’s popular Mount Vernon Love Stories walking tours. Starting at the Marburg Mansion on Mount Vernon Place, this walk covers two centuries of celebrity gossip, intrigue, and off-beat love lives from John Eager Howard in the 1780s to Jada Pinkett Smith in the 1990. We are offering the same tour in the morning at 11:00 am and the afternoon at 1:00 pm so sign up for the time that works for you.
After being briefly buried under snow on Sunday, we’ve all been thinking warm thoughts—but at Baltimore Heritage we’re thinking hot—like the 2500-degree fire that burned through downtown Baltimore 114 years ago next month. We hope you can join local historian Wayne Schaumburg at the cozy Garrett-Jacobs Mansion on Mount Vernon Place on Sunday, February 3 to learn more about the Great Baltimore Fire. In his talk, A Hot Time in the Old Town, Wayne will share how hot the fire burned (yes, up to 2500 degrees) and how the event fundamentally shaped the Baltimore we know today.
On Saturday, February 9, we are excited to bring back our monthly tours of Lexington Market showcasing historic vendors and exploring the catacombs below the west building. Lexington Market boasts three legacy businesses that have been around for a hundred years or more: Faidley’s Seafood, Konstant’s Candies and Peanuts, and Mary Mervis Delicatessen. Throughout the year, you can expect more tours of legacy business as part of our effort to document and highlight the city’s long-lasting and well-loved business institutions.
Finally, I want to say a very sincere thank you to everybody who joined or renewed their membership in 2018. Nearly two hundred people joined or renewed their membership in the last two weeks of December, bringing our total to nearly seven hundred supporters for the year. We’ve said it before, but we never get tired of repeating it—we are a small organization and your gifts make all of our work possible. Thank you!
Martick’s Restaurant Francais on Mulberry Street is a place of fond memories where Baltimore enjoyed fine food, lively music, and art for nearly a century. After a decade of vacancy, the former restaurant is now threatened by a new development project.
While the developer, the Vituvius Development Company, has proposed reusing some buildings on the block, they are seeking to tear down Martick’s citing the difficulty of reusing the deteriorated structure. Yesterday afternoon, Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) voted unanimously to recognize the buildings importance to the local historic district—but the building may still be at risk.
The once-famous restaurant started in 1917 as a small grocery store established by Harry and Florence Martick, both Jewish Polish immigrants. The Federal style corner building is even older—dating back to at least 1852—and the Martick family continued to live above the shop raising a family of five children. Following the end of Prohibition, the store (which may have already been operating as an illegal speakeasy) turned into a bar later known as Martick’s Tyson Street Tavern. After Harry’s death in the the 1940s, Florence’s five children pitched in to keep the business going. Morris Martick turned the family bar into a unique institution reportedly attracting what journalist Alan Feiler called “a mix of artists, musicians, journalists, working Joes and assorted self-styled bohemians, beats and hipsters” in the 1940s and 1950s.
But, by the 1960s, Morris Martrick was ready for a change. After a failed run for state legislature, Morris traveled to France where he studied French cooking and attracted a chef. Returning to Baltimore, he renovated and re-opened the bar as Martick’s Restaurant Francais in 1970. The restaurant’s reputation grew, eventually attracting celebrity guests that include Baltimore-born filmmaker John Waters, actor Nicolas Cage and actress Barbara Hershey. The restaurant closed in 2008 and Morris Martrick passed away in 2011 at eighty-eight years old.
Regrettably, the building has sat vacant ever since the restaurant closed. After a proposal for redeveloping the building fell through last year, the property sold to Vituvius Development Company that has submitted a plan for the development of the entire block for a six-story apartment building with storefronts on the first floor and about one hundred apartments on the upper stories. While the proposal preserves and incorporates the historic buildings along Park Avenue, as well as a BG&E substation on the site, the developer is seeking the demolition of Martick’s as part of their plan. The adjoining parking lot was already torn down late last year in anticipation of the project.
CHAP’s vote yesterday afternoon is the first step of a two-step process for property owners seeking to tear down buildings inside local historic districts. The developer could reconsider their plan and find a way to incorporate Martick’s into their proposal—or return to CHAP in the next few months to ask the commission to allow demolition under a “financial hardship” provision. As Ed Gunts reported in the Baltimore Fishbowl, the developer has cited concerns about the feasibility of redevelopment due to the “immense deterioration of the structure” over the past decade.
Baltimore Heritage is urging the developer to recognize Martick’s Restaurant Francais as a unique local landmark and reconsider their plans for demolition. We welcome new investment in long vacant buildings around Market Center but we also believe redevelopment can benefit from reusing historic buildings wherever possible.
You can join us in supporting the preservation of the former Martick’s Restaurant by emailing Stacy Montgomery, CHAP planner, at email@example.com to share your support for the building’s preservation.