On June 17, please join us for a guided tour of Baltimore’s Marble Hill neighborhood, which was the home to an astonishing amount of groundbreaking Civil Rights leaders. Reverend Harvey Johnson began one of the first collective action movements here in the 1880s. In the 1930s Lillie Carroll Jackson engaged youth in “The Movement” and pioneered new non-violent protest tactics that were later picked up in cities across the country. Thurgood Marshall grew up here, as did the chief lobbyist for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Clarence Mitchell. Most recently this was the district for the late Representative Elijah Cummings, one of the most powerful voices for civil rights in Washington. Join us to learn how fundamental pillars of the Civil Rights Movement got built here by driven, activist neighbors with their eyes on the prize. Register here!
The Mitchell Law Office in Upton is set to receive $1.75 million from Congressman Kweisi Mfume. This money will be used to transform the building, which was once the office of Maryland’s first Black woman lawyer, Juanita Jackson Mitchell, into a legal hub in West Baltimore. Rev. Al Hathaway of Beloved Community Services Corporation is spearheading this alongside his other project, the PS 103/Thurgood Marshall School restoration. Here is a link to a Baltimore Banner article that ran yesterday.
About 7 years ago, Baltimore Heritage secured $10,000 from the National Trust of Historic Preservation to stabilize the roof of the Mitchell Law Office. This was the project’s first funding and helped get the restoration going. We’ve been involved in several ways since then and will continue to help wherever we can.
The Mitchell Law Office restoration joins several other ongoing West Baltimore restoration projects including PS 103 and Upton Mansion (for the Afro American offices), along with the already-completed Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum. We are very near to having a critical mass of nationally important Civil Rights sites that have been restored, all within a few blocks of each other. For several years Baltimore Heritage, Rev. Hathaway and others have been talking about how to put Baltimore on the national map as a Civil Rights heritage destination. We’re making progress!
The Maryland Women’s History Center is the first comprehensive state-based women’s history center and museum of its kind in the nation. For our tour, a docent from the Center will guide us through exhibits on Maryland women “firsts,” unsung heroines, and the suffrage movement in Maryland. The Center’s location at the BG&E building is more than fitting. In the early 1900s, a suffrage pioneer named Edith Houghton Hooker staged a major rally for giving women the vote outside the building at Lexington and Liberty Streets. Ms. Hooker had come from Buffalo to Baltimore as one of the first women accepted into the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 1909, she established the Just Government League of Maryland, a local affiliate of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and edited and published Maryland Suffrage News from 1912 through the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. In addition to the history of the suffrage movement, we will be among the first to see the Center’s newest exhibit on Maryland women in science and technology.
This morning the Board of Estimates voted to extend the city’s land disposition agreement with Lexington Square Partners for the development of the Superblock for another year. We’ve spent much of 2011 pushing the city to recognize the importance of the West Side’s rich social and architectural history as an asset to the neighborhood’s revitalization. The development team has now acknowledged the landmark sit-in at Read’s Drug Store with a proposal to retain the exterior walls of the 1934 building and the City has approved a plan with funding to stabilize this publicly-owned building. We opposed the extension granted by the Board of Estimates this morning because we believe the development plan continues to call for the demolition of too many historic buildings. The West Side’s unique heritage should be the foundation for building a more vibrant and livable neighborhood so we are renewing our efforts to share the stories of the West Side with people from across the city.
For over two hundred years this neighborhood has been a center of activity to entrepreneurs and merchants of all kinds, suffragists and civil rights protestors, and much more. With all of these diverse stories to tell, we’re bringing back last winter’s Why the West Side Matters series here on our website and offering a new set of lunch time walking tours on the second Wednesday of each month from January through April 2012.
January 11 — Meet at Lexington Market (Eutaw & Lexington Streets)
February 8 — Meet at Pratt Library Central Branch (Cathedral Street between Franklin & Mulberry Streets)
March 14 — Meet at Lexington Market (Paca & Lexington Streets)
April 11 — Meet at Charles Center (Center Plaza)
Each unique 1-hour tour will start at 12:30 pm visiting places like Pascault Row, G. Krug & Son Iron Works, the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center, and much more. Come for one tour or come for them all and please make sure to join our e-mail list or connect with us on Facebook for reminders about these and other upcoming programs.
The Maryland Women’s Heritage Center at 39 West Lexington Street is located on the first floor of the historic Baltimore Gas and Electric Company Building in a store-front gallery and exhibit space donated to the Center by David Hillman, CEO of Southern Management Corporation. Originally completed in 1916, the former Baltimore Gas & Electric Company headquarters building was carefully preserved and restored as a mixed-use development including apartments and offices. Its 22 stories rise in majestic neoclassical style, capped by large, arched windows on the top two floors. At the fourth floor, the façade is graced by allegorical figures or goddesses representing Knowledge, Light, Heat, and Power.
The corner of Lexington and Liberty Streets is particularly important in the history of the Maryland suffrage movement as the location of a huge open air rally organized by Edith Houghton Hooker (1879-1949). A Buffalo native, Hooker arrived in Baltimore as one of the first women accepted into the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1909, she established the Just Government League of Maryland, a local affiliate of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and edited and published Maryland Suffrage Newsfrom 1912 through the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
From its beginning as the Maryland Women’s History Project in 1980, the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center has worked to preserve the past, understand the present, and shape the future by recognizing and sharing the experiences and contributions of Maryland women and girls of diverse backgrounds and regions. Their exhibits honor Maryland’s historical and contemporary renowned women and girls in the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, as well as highlighting those “Unsung Heroines” who have shaped their own families and communities. The Center serves as a resource with historical information on Maryland women and a gathering place to hold workshops, forums, and other special events.