City Paper writer (and Baltimore Heritage volunteer) Kate Drabinski responded to the news that the 43-year-old gay bar the Hippo is closing this year with a thoughtful article on the work being done by archivists, scholars and community members to preserve LGBTQ history in Baltimore:
“Louis Hughes, now 71, moved to Baltimore in 1970 and came out in 1974. In 1975 he helped found the Baltimore Gay Alliance, which is now the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore (GLCCB). He served on the community advisory board of Johns Hopkins Hospital and worked tirelessly with others to pass the Baltimore City and Maryland lesbian and gay rights bills, work that took years. After those bills were passed, he helped with trainings for police, social workers, teachers, and the general public to help what he calls “the slow but sure process of change.” He now serves on the Baltimore Heritage LGBTQ history committee and helps lead tours of Baltimore’s “gayborhoods” of Mount Vernon and Charles Village.”
Read the full article – Recording the Rainbow Revolution – or connect with others interested in LGBTQ heritage on the Rainbow Heritage Network website and Facebook group.
Thanks to Amy Mulvihill and Baltimore Magazine for highlighting our recent celebration of Baltimore’s Centennial Homes:
“According to U.S. Census data, the average American moves about 11 times in his or her life, a statistic that confirms what many of us know from experience: Thanks to moves necessitated by jobs, schools, and relationships, “home,” is more of an ephemeral concept than a physical place these days. But that’s not true for everyone, including the Baltimoreans on the following pages, each of whom is part of a family that has kept its homestead for 100 years or more. In Baltimore City, such domestic dynasties are recognized via the Baltimore Heritage Centennial Homes Program, which will celebrate 10 families this month with a reception at City Hall.”
Be sure to read the full piece for profiles on families from Overlea, Hollins Market, Canton and Catonsville accompanied by some great photographs from David Colwell.
“Next Saturday’s tour of “Lafayette Square By Foot” carries an accurate secondary description: “Baltimore Thru the Ages!” This neighborhood, constructed around a public park, has ties to the Civil War, slavery, and the monied Victorians who gave way to Baltimore’s African-American upper middle class. Did I mention that jazz legend Billie Holiday once lived around the corner too?
The square itself is a fascinating, if overlooked, urban destination. On a chilly April afternoon, I observed its detached beauty. It was quiet and occupies high ground. You could observe its history in the facades of all the grand mansions. You visualize Baltimore’s 19th-century wealth one minute and the next imagine how those fortunes moved on.”
Jacques Kelly, “Lafayette Square shares its history,” The Baltimore Sun, April 11, 2015.
Join us for our Lafayette Square walking tour this weekend and check out the full list of Billie Holliday Centennial Programs this month. You can also learn more about the history of Lafayette Square with the story of the Civil War Lafayette Barracks and our neighborhood history of Harlem Park.
Thank you to Ron Cassie for a detailed and thoughtful take on the legacy of the successful student sit-ins at Read’s Drug Store that took place 60 years ago this month. Check out the full story for more details on the long history of civil-rights student activism by Morgan State students or learn more about our exciting new partnership to document historic places connected with Baltimore’s Civil Rights heritage.
A few days later, the front page of the January 22, 1955, national edition of The Afro-American newspaper ran a short story, datelined Baltimore, with the headline “Now serve all.” Read’s, which had 39 area stores, had suddenly decided to desegregate, with the article citing a “sit-down strike” at its “largest store in the heart of the city, the day before the change of policy was announced.” …Baltimore Heritage director Johns Hopkins (distant descendant of the Johns Hopkins) says it was during the late 2000s, when demolition of the Read’s building was formally proposed, that the story of Read’s began to come to life again. He believes the location of the building and its historic sit-ins are central to understanding the city’s complicated record regarding racial prejudice—nowhere more obvious than at Howard and Lexington. The city’s beloved department stores—Hochchild’s, Stewart’s, Hecht’s, and Hutzler’s (“where Baltimore shops!”)—all maintained some form of segregation until 1960 or later.
“When it really hit home for me, what this building and block represent, was when a class of eighth graders and a class of ninth graders came out on separate field trips during demonstrations a few years ago,” Hopkins says. “Their reaction was very powerful. You could see what it meant to them to know that story and to be there, where it happened. It’s one of the few physical places like that in existence in Baltimore. It’s not the Taj Mahal, but landmarks like this draw kids in, and they get interested in learning about that history.”
Continue reading And Service For All: Sixty years ago, Morgan State College students staged the first successful lunch-counter sit-ins by Ron Cassie, Baltimore Magazine (January 2015).
Special thanks to historian Deb Weiner for her efforts to help us keep spreading the word about Baltimore’s Hebrew Orphan Asylum!
New Life for Old Jewish Landmark, Simone Ellin, Baltimore Jewish Times, November 18, 2014.
“I think it’s an incredibly important building,” said local historian Deb Weiner of the Romanesque-style building designed by architects Edward Lupus and Henry A. Roby. “After B’nai Israel and the Lloyd Street Synagogue, it’s probably the most important building to the Baltimore Jewish community. “It represents the era, in the 19th century, when Jews started to build charities,” Weiner continued. “It shows how the community was becoming more affluent and could afford it.” …
“We got involved when there was a proposal to demolish the building,” said Johns Hopkins, executive director of Baltimore Heritage, Inc. and a board member of the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation. “Then Coppin State got a new president who thought the building was an asset.” Hopkins and his colleagues worked with Coppin State to get the building on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. “It was a slam-dunk,” said Hopkins, “since the building was so significant both architecturally and historically.”
With support from Coppin State, in 2012, the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation, Baltimore Heritage, Inc. and architectural firm Kann Partners were granted a $2.5 million tax credit from the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program. A state study later concluded that the neighborhood around the building was one of the five least healthy in the state, leading Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown to announce that the neighborhood would encompass one of five new Health Enterprise zones. The Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation will now restore the building and create a full-service medical facility called the Center for Health Care and Healthy Living.