Baltimore Heritage is seeking proposals to undertake a survey of African American heritage sites within the Old West Baltimore National Register Historic District. The work will include documenting historic sites in a spreadsheet format and preparing Maryland Inventory of Historic Places forms for five places.
Update:With regard to COVID-19, this position does not require in-person contact or in-person meetings. It does require research that could include accessing physical collections and archives at places like the Pratt Library, the Afro-American archives, and other repositories. Currently, these are closed to visitors and re-opening schedules have not been announced. If it is determined that accessing physical collections is a necessary part of this research, and these places remain closed for an extended period of time, we will work with the contractor to adjust schedules and expectations.
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.
Baltimore Heritage would like to share some information on the city’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.
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
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
Henry Adams, LLC
CapEx Advisory Group
Clifton Mansion Dining Room
Thomas Moore Studio
Vincent Greene Architects
Friends of Clifton Mansion
H.L. Mencken House and Museum
Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy, Inc.
Azola Building Rehab, Inc.
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
Adaptive Reuse and Compatible Design Awards:
Hoen & Co Lithograph
2101 East Biddle LLC
Cross Street Partners
City Life Historic Properties
1200 Architectural Engineers Pllc
Kovacs Whitney & Associates
James Posey Associates STV, Inc
Michael S. Walkley, P.A.
Froehling & Robertson, Inc
Urban Green Environmental
Betty Bird & Associates LLC
EHT Traceries Historic Preservation
Cohn Reznick LLP
Reinvestment Fund (TRF)
H. J. Poist Gas Co
C. L McCoy Framing Co, Inc.
City First Bank
Department of Commerce
U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation
City First New Markets Fund II, LLC
National Trust Community Investment Corp
Ace Environmental Services, Inc
SHE Excavating, Inc
English Concrete, Inc
D.A. Drenner Concrete Construction, Inc
Quiet Floors Systems LLC
Elite Restoration of Maryland
Worcester Eisenbrandt, Inc.
Neuner Masonry Company Inc
Wilson Point Steel, Inc.
Majer Metal Works
North American Roofing
CNC Roofing LLC
Fullview Aluminum & Glass
Revolution Windows Systems
Tegeler Construction & Supply
Unified Door & Hardward Group, LLC
CEV Building Systems LTD
Eastwood Painting & Contracting, Inc
Polished Concrete Systems, Inc.
Livingston Fire Protection Inc.
Scaffold Resources LLC
Fidelity Mechanical Services
Benchmark Automation & Controls
Fleet Electric Inc.
Kevson Services Group
Ministry of Brewing
St. Michael’s Redevelopment Partners
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
F.M. Harvey Construction Co., Inc
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
Waldon Studios Architects
Enoch Pratt Free Library
Enoch Pratt Free Library
Beyer Blinder Belle
Ayers Saint Gross
Sustainable Building Partners
Cerami & Associates
Baltimore Department of General Services
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.
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.
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!