Category: Advocacy

Remembering Julian “Jack” Lapides

Today, July 14, long-time Baltimore Heritage board member Julian “Jack” Lapides passed away. His death has saddened us in too many ways to count. And his legacy and impact on Baltimore, Maryland, and indeed the country, is also too expansive to properly capture. Nonetheless, we would humbly like to offer a tribute to Jack for his dedication to making our lives, our neighborhoods, and the world a better place by sharing a few highlights of his life’s work in his own words. Below are audio excerpts from an oral interview that fellow board members Susan Talbott and Barbara Weeks conducted with him several years ago. We hope you appreciate these short recordings for what they are: Jack sharing stories of fighting to save our heritage, fighting for civil rights, fighting always for the right path forward even against overwhelming odds, and always told with a smile and a joke in a way that only Jack could do.


Facing Urban Renewal & the Highway Fight

Beginning in the 1960s, Jack was one of the very first people to oppose a highway that would have paved over Fell’s Point and Federal Hill in East Baltimore and through Poppleton and Harlem Park in West Baltimore. He was instrumental in saving Baltimore’s waterfront and although part of the highway was built in West Baltimore, he helped block it half-way through construction and prevented even greater destruction in West Baltimore.

Saving Stirling Street (Plus Jack’s Favorite Preservation Story)

With his wife Linda, Jack convinced city officials not only to save historic Stirling Street in the Oldtown neighborhood, but to sell the houses for $1 to new owners, thus launching Baltimore’s famous Dollar House Program. 

Preserving the Phipps Building On Hopkins’ Campus

While in the Maryland Senate, Jack threatened to withhold funds that Johns Hopkins Hospital sought for a new oncology center until they agreed to save the historic Phipps building. The result: a saved and restored Phipps building and a new oncology center (with state funds) built nearby.

Passing the Public Accommodations Bill, 1963

In his first year in the state legislature, Jack supported legislation that would make it illegal for owners of places like restaurants and theaters to bar African Americans entry. Jack had won his seat by beating out an incumbent who opposed this civil rights legislation, and was one of two new votes that swung the state legislature into passing the Public Accommodations law of 1963. 

Starting the Maryland State Arts Council

Recognizing the importance of the arts in creating vibrant communities, Jack was one of the founding members of the Maryland State Arts Council in 1967.

Members Make It Happen: Thank You from Baltimore Heritage

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We at Baltimore Heritage cannot say it enough. This year has been challenging for everyone and we could not have navigated it without your support. Our new Five Minute Histories video series and our ongoing Legacy Business and Centennial Homes programs, to name a few, are possible only with your help. If you haven’t yet done so, please consider joining or renewing your membership today.

Here are just a few of this past year’s projects made possible with your support:

We produced over 100 Five Minute Histories videos. Beginning the first day of Maryland’s Covid lock-down, we have traveled all over our city covering topics such as the Civil Rights Movement, mercantile history, immigration, religious development, Native American history, LGBTQ heritage, transportation, landscape design, women’s rights, and even some geology.

We expanded our Friday afternoon history lecture series and went virtual. In partnership with the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, we held engaging talks by Charlie Duff, Nancy Proctor, Jackson Gilman-Forlini, Aaron Henkin, Anne Bruder, Meg Fairfax-Fielding, and more.

We handed out 5 micro-grants and 18 preservation awards virtually. We pivoted to a Zoom pitch party to continue to make preservation a participatory sport with micro grants. Thank you to member Brigid Goody for making this yearly event possible. And we have been featuring our 2020 preservation awards winners on our website and on our YouTube channel.

We continued to fight to preserve Baltimore’s heritage. Restoration has begun at the Bruce Street Arabber Stable. Construction continues at the Lafayette Square bathhouses. And the Center for Health Care and Healthy Living at the Baltimore Hebrew Orphan Asylum will soon be 100% occupied by the Baltimore City Health Department and Behavioral Health System Baltimore.

For all of you who volunteer, log-on to our programs, email us kind words (and correct our mistakes), and support our advocacy work in Baltimore, please accept a sincere thank you from all of us at Baltimore Heritage. Your time, talents and financial support make a difference. Please consider joining or renewing your membership.

We wish you a safe holiday season and thank you again for doing so much for Baltimore.

P.S. Need a holiday present idea? Get in touch about how you can get a gift membership for a friend or family-member!

New Preservation Project: Announcing Partnership to Support the Bruce Street Arabber Stable, and a Baltimore Tradition Too!

Baltimore Heritage is delighted to be partnering with the Southwest Partnership and the Bruce Street Arabber Stable to help keep the historic stable on Bruce Street from collapsing.

Current owners Dorothy and David Johns wish to continue the tradition of arabbing (a-rab-bing)–in which melodious vendors sell fruit and vegetables from colorful, horse-drawn wagons–out of this stable, but their endeavors are threatened by a tree growing in the rear wall. This project will help protect the stable and allow it to continue growing into a vital community gathering place. 

This two-story, brick stable has been in operation since at least 1897 when this street was still called Bruce Alley. Since then the property has changed owners more than seven times before landing in the hands of Dorothy and David Johns. Dorothy’s grandmother, Mildred Allen, was one of Baltimore’s most successful arabbers, and the first female stable owner in Baltimore. Dorothy wants to celebrate her family’s past, and Baltimore’s unique arabbing culture, by continuing to shelter horses and wagons at the Bruce Street stable. 

The Baltimore Sun, December 9, 1897

Last year, Baltimore Heritage became aware of the need for stabilization of the building. After a site visit in November 2019 with staff from Baltimore Heritage and the Southwest Partnership, the Southwest Partnership retained a structural engineer to provide a preliminary assessment of the necessary work. The engineer concluded that there were three primary areas that needed to be addressed: the rear wall, the roof, and the internal support joists. 

We worked with Dorothy and David and the State of Maryland to secure funds and now work has begun. Check back to get periodic updates on its progress! 

 

For more on Baltimore arabbing: 

The Arabbers of Baltimore: A Photo Essay by Roland Freeman

The Arabbers of Baltimore City: A Market on Wheels by Madeline Ross

Read our position on this issue

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

Help Us Protect Historic Woodberry

We at Baltimore Heritage are pleased to be helping neighbors in the Woodberry community protect this wonderful 19th century mill town and we are asking for your help. The neighborhood is on the cusp of being designated an official local historic district and one of its signature historic buildings, the Tractor Building of the former Pool and Hunt Foundry and Machine Works, is in line to become a designated city landmark.

Both efforts need public support to get the green light from the Mayor and City Council. Please help us by sending an email to the local councilman, Leon Pinkett, thanking him for his past support for Woodberry and urging him to do all he can in the weeks ahead. The historic mills, workers houses, general store, and other buildings are a treasure for all of Baltimore (we believe for all of Maryland and beyond), and even if you are not in Councilman Pinkett’s district (Council District 7), contacting him will help.

Thank you for helping protect historic Woodberry!