Category: History

Introducing Our New Video Series on South Baltimore’s Industrial Legacy with the Baltimore Museum of Industry

Baltimore Heritage is pleased to be launching a new series, South Baltimore: In the Shadow of Industry, created with our friends at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Tune in on Wednesdays for five videos about different industrial sites in Locust Point. Today’s episode showcases the Procter & Gamble factory, today’s Under Armour headquarters!

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

Seeking Proposals for Contract Researcher

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.

The deadline to apply in August 21, 2020.

To apply, please follow the instructions in our Request for Proposals. 

For questions, please contact Baltimore Heritage director Johns Hopkins at 410-332-9992 or hopkins@baltimoreheritage.org.

 

Mapping Sites of Baltimore’s Slave Trade

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.

— Richard Messick