Category: Preservation

Fire at the Sellers Mansion

Yesterday the Sellers Mansion in Lafayette Square had a fire inside. Built in 1868 just after Lafayette Square turned from a Civil War Union Army hospital base into a residential community, the mansion is listed as a Baltimore City historic landmark. It has anchored the Lafayette Square neighborhood for nearly 150 years as a private residence and as offices for community nonprofit organizations. And it has been vacant for over 20 years. See our Five Minute Histories video on the Sellers Mansion for more of its history!

 

We checked things out at the mansion this morning, and it appears the damage was contained to the interior and the roof. That’s the good news. The challenge is that the building is in severely poor shape and needed attention before the fire, and even more so now. As the Baltimore Sun reported this morning, it is owned by developer Ernst Valery and although the city approved redevelopment plans about two years ago, work has yet to begin.

 

We at Baltimore Heritage have been working to try to save the Sellers Mansion for nearly 25 years and remain committed to do everything we can to see this grand Second Empire building return to being an asset for the Lafayette Square neighborhood in West Baltimore. Scroll down to see photos taken this morning by Baltimore Heritage’s Executive Director Johns Hopkins.

 

 

 

 

 

Micro-Grants Fund Six Baltimore Projects!

Thank you to everyone who came to our virtual micro-grant party last night and helped select grants for six Baltimore projects! It was a fun and participatory event. Here are the six projects that received funding:

$500 Micro-Grants: 

  • Thomas Johnson Elementary Middle School field trip to the Baltimore Museum of Industry
  • Community murals in Irvington by Cooperative Community Development, Inc.

$250 Micro-Grants: 

  • Website costs for the Friends of St. Vincent Cemetery
  • Shutter restoration at the Irish Railroad Workers Museum Visitors Center

$50 Micro-Grants:

  • Brochures for the Baltimore Immigration Memorial and Museum
  • Research equipment and other costs for the Baltimore Crime Museum

 

We will keep you posted as these projects move along and, again, thank you!!

2021 Virtual Pitch Party: Help Us Give Away Six Micro-Grants!

Please help us give away six micro-grants to advance good ideas in Baltimore. This is our sixth year of providing micro-grants and as we have done in past years, we’ll have five finalists provide three-minute “pitches” of their ideas… and then we will ask you to cast virtual ballots for your favorite. Based on your votes, we will give out two $500 grants, two $250 grants, and two $50 grants. Register here!

This year hear pitches from these organizations:

  • Baltimore Crime Museum
  • Baltimore Immigration Memorial and Museum, Inc.
  • Cooperative Community Development Inc
  • Irish Railroad Workers Museum
  • Friends of St. Vincent Cemetery (FoSVC)
  • Thomas Johnson Elementary Middle School #84

We’ll learn about some great initiatives underway in Baltimore and have a little fun helping them out. This is also Baltimore Heritage’s annual meeting where we elect board members and officers. It’s free and we hope you join us!

Thank you again for supporting us and our work with Baltimore’s historic buildings and neighborhoods. Whether from your couch or your backyard, we hope you can join us at 5:30 pm on October 21, 2021 via Zoom for this special event.

Accepting Ideas for 2021 Micro Grants for Preservation Work

We’re in our 6th year of giving away micro-grants to help fund preservation work in the city. If you have a good idea to help preserve a historic building or place in Baltimore or help revitalize a historic neighborhood, we’d love to hear from you! The process is easy: simply fill out the online application and hit send by Wednesday, September 22, 2021.

We’ll pick the five most promising ideas and give them a chance for one of two $500 grants, two $250 grants, or one $50 grant. The awards will be made on October 21, 2021 at a virtual pitch party. Over Zoom, supporters of each idea will get three minutes to pitch them and at the end, the crowd will cast virtual ballots to decide which ideas receive the micro grants. Whether funded or not, we will promote all the ideas and projects to help them garner attention and volunteers.

The types of eligible projects are endless, and as long as they relate to Baltimore’s history, heritage, historic buildings or historic neighborhoods we will consider them. Past award winners include: restoring leaking masonry at a historic church, launching an after school arts-based safe space program in a historic neighborhood, supporting archaeological efforts at a historic furnace, and providing supplies for a community trying to provide access to a neighboring park. The sky’s the limit!

The amount of the award ($50, $250, or $500) may not be enough to complete an entire project. That’s OK. The goal is to help spark new and support existing neighborhood-level preservation work. You don’t need to be a nonprofit organization or even a formalized group to be eligible. Individuals and small groups are welcome! Complete rules can be found on the application.

And you can now register for October 21’s Virtual Preservation Pitch Party!

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.