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!
On June 19, 1919, Sharon VanDyke’s grandparents, Harry and Edna Shivers, bought 406 E Randall St. in Riverside. Their daughter, Devera Steltz, was born in the front room and then occupied the home through the 1960’s. Devera’s daughter, Sharon VanDyke, currently lives here. This quintessential Baltimore rowhouse (marble steps, formstone and a Camark cat are all Bmore hallmarks!) has been owned by the family for over 100 years. On April 14, 2023 Baltimore Heritage presented Sharon VanDyke with a Centennial Homes plaque and certificate.
Today the nearly 20-year-old effort to recognize the important history and heritage in the Poppleton neighborhood took a big step forward. The Land Use Committee of Baltimore’s City Council endorsed a bill to designate Sarah Ann Street and parts of adjoining North Carrollton Street as a local historic district. The bill still has a few steps to go within City Council, and the mayor must sign off on it as well, but the recent actions are a clear victory for the residents and friends who have worked so long for this designation.
Back in 2004, Baltimore Heritage got involved in the work to prevent the Poppleton houses from being demolished. Our board member, Tom Ward, got Baltimore Heritage connected with neighbors, including activist Sonia Eaddy, who were fighting a proposed demolition project backed by the City and a developer based in New York. There have been a number of historic houses demolished over the last 18 years, including the home of one-time West Baltimore political kingmaker Boss Kelly. The recent action by the City Council will protect a critical core block of alley houses on Sarah Ann Street that have been owned by Black Baltimore families since they were built in the 1870s. Baltimore Heritage stays committed to helping the Poppleton community and will periodically share significant developments.
We can’t believe it, but we just published our 250th Five Minute Histories video! To celebrate, we decided to cover a quintessential Baltimore food—lake trout. And stay tuned at the end of the video to see some familiar faces who want to thank you all for your support over the past two years of 250 videos. You guys have stuck with us and made our work so enjoyable. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Yesterday, CHAP formally found that the 5 buildings on W. Preston Street that the Greek Church has proposed to demolish are intact enough to still be considered historic. This is a positive step towards finding a preservation solution.
Baltimore’s Greek community has a rich heritage that is worthy of respect and what we’re asking the church to do is do the same for the Mount Vernon community that it has been part of for 90 years.
After word spread that the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation wanted to tear down a set of 1890s rowhouses in Mount Vernon, the response from the public was forceful.
By mid-morning, 156 people had sent in letters or emails to oppose the demolition, the city’s preservation chief, Eric Holcomb, said at a hearing today.
Soon afterwards, following impassioned pleas to spare the five buildings from the wrecking ball, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) handed opponents a key victory.
By a unanimous voice vote, they decided that the houses at 35-43 West Preston Street “contribute to the character” of the historic Mount Vernon District, an important determination the commissioners will take into account when they consider the church’s request to demolish the buildings.