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Two men, Johns Hopkins and Sen. Ben Cardin, both wearing dark suits and red ties in a room at Clifton Mansion.

Contact your representatives! Congressional tax bill threatens the Historic Tax Credit for rehabbing buildings in Baltimore "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" seeks to cut program used by hundreds of Baltimore projects

Last Thursday, November 2, the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives released a tax reform bill that, if approved, eliminates the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit program.

Please contact your members of Congress to show your support for the Historic Tax Credit program. The National Trust for Historic Preservation makes it easy to send your Senators and Congressional Representatives an email about this issue. All you need is your zip code.

Contact your representatives

Losing federal historic tax credits would be devastating for Baltimore City. Since 2002, over 350 projects have relied on funding from the federal historic tax credit program. The credit has helped developers find new uses for vacant buildings including the American Can Company, Clipper Mill, Tide Point, Montgomery Park, and the Stieff Silver Building. Historic tax credits can protect and preserve treasured historic places like Clifton Mansion, the Woman’s Industrial Exchange, Eastern High School, American Brewery, Center Theater, and many more. And, for each example, there are many more historic buildings that will need these credits to support rehabilitation in the future.

A nightime view of a large Victorian brick building with light shining from the windows.
American Brewery Building. Photograph by Paul Burk.

This concerning proposal is moving forward quickly: the House leadership is seeking a full vote on their proposal before Thanksgiving. We need your help to protect one of the most important programs for historic buildings in Baltimore today. Reach

For more on how the federal historic tax credit helps Baltimore and Maryland, check out this advocacy alert from our friends at Preservation Maryland or this resource from Preservation Action. Thank you for lending your support to keep this program that has helped so many in Baltimore and deserves to continue being a catalyst for our economic growth.

A side view of a two-story brick buildings with turrets at two corners.

Former Eastern Female High School building up for auction this Friday, October 27 After a 2015 fire, the building needs a new owner and a new use

Update:The October 27 auction was cancelled but will be rescheduled. For questions, contact Paul R. Cooper, auction agent, by email at paul@alexcooper.com or by phone at 410-977-4707.

The 148-year-old Eastern Female High School building is up for auction this Friday, October 27 at 10:30 am. The building suffered a serious fire in July 2015 but we are optimistic that this former school and local landmark can find a new owner and a new use after fifteen years of vacancy and neglect. The Casey Group, a local firm acting as the receiver for the property, required potential bidders to register by last Friday, October 20.

A sign reading: "Alex Cooper Real Estate Auction To Be Sold On the Premises Fr/ Oct 27th @ 10:30 AM Paul Cooper 410-977-4707 www.AlexCooper.com"
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 October 24.

The Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development began seeking a receivership sale for the building in December 2014 and, in September 2015, the city’s District Court appointed the Casey Group the receiver for the property. The property is located at the edge of the Pleasant View neighborhood where the city’s first HOPE VI redevelopment project opened in 1998 with over two hundred townhouses and a 110-unit senior building.

The Eastern Female High School is a designated local landmark which means that the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation must review any proposed changes to the exterior of the building. Read more about the history of the former school on Explore Baltimore Heritage.

A large brick building with a gable roof.

Second annual Preservation Pitch Party donates $3,500 to creative local heritage projects Surprise gifts from Southway Builders and FreedomCar offer $500 for all seven preservation micro-grant finalists

Baltimore Heritage’s second annual preservation micro-grant pitch party on last Monday at Whitehall Mill ended in a happy surprise. Southway Builders and FreedomCar made the unexpected decision to offer matching gifts and expand our micro-grant funding pool from $1,500 to $3,500. The result? Instead of just giving out four gifts, all seven groups that pitched an idea received $500 to make it happen.

On behalf of everybody at Baltimore Heritage, congratulations to the seven organizations, and sincere thanks to micro-grant donors Ms. Brigid Goody, Southway Builders, and Freedom Car!

The seven projects span the city from east to west Baltimore, including:

  • Beloved Community Services Corporation at Union Baptist Church is working with the Baltimore Museum of Art to launch Soul Café: a project to create a safe space for community art engagement in Upton’s Marble Hill.
  • Civic Works is making a new exhibit at Clifton Mansion showcasing an antebellum call-bell system and improving visitor experience on tours for their Legacy Education Project.
  • H.L. Mencken House is buying garden supplies for volunteers to beautify the front stoop and improve the home’s back garden.
  • Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum is buying books and organizing a new Saturday Civil Rights history book club for teens and young adults.
  • Mount Clare Museum House is planning new special weekend tours celebrating Mount Clare’s one hundred years as a house museum
  • Poe Baltimore is designing and printing a set of postcards featuring historic images of the Poe House.
  • Preservation Society of Fells Point is planning to secure and stabilize the Caulker’s Houses on Wolfe Street, the only surviving eighteenth-century timber frame buildings left standing in Baltimore

Thank you to everyone who submitted proposals for the pitch party and everyone who came out on October 3. We plan to check in with the seven award-winning projects and share updates on their fantastic projects over the next few months. Stay tuned!

Francis Scott Key Monument splashed with red paint and spray painted with the words “Racist Anthem” Graffiti on Eutaw Place sculpture highlights Key's history as a slaveholder

This morning, we learned that the Francis Scott Key Monument at Eutaw Place was splashed with red paint over night and the stone pedestal at the center of the monument was spray painted with the words “Racist Anthem.” The monument by French sculptor Marius Jean Antonin Mercié shows Key standing in a marble rowboat next to a seated bronze sailor. The statue was dedicated on May 15, 1911, and restored in 1999 after a major fundraising campaign by local residents. You can see more photographs of the Key Monument and the graffiti in our Flickr album.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

The spray painted graffiti on the east side of the stone curb surrounding the monument fountain included “Blood on his hands,” “Racist Anthem,” “Fuck FSK,” and “Hater U Just Mad.” On the pavement in front of the monument was written “Slave Owner” and one of the lesser-known stanzas that make up Key’s Star-Spangled Banner:

“No refuge could save, Hireling or slave,
From terror of flight, Or gloom of grave”

The words are a reference to the black men who escaped from slavery in Maryland and Virginia to join the British in their fight against the United States government during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key’s legacy as a slave holder was the subject of a 2016 post from Smithsonian Magazine and a 2014 biography. As a member of the Maryland State Colonization Society, Key also promoted the removal of free black people from Maryland to a colony in present-day Liberia.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks was notified about the condition of the monument early this morning and reached out to the Baltimore City Police Department, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, and other city agencies to file a police report and consider next steps. We have also reached out to the Bolton Hill Architectural Review Committee to alert neighbors to the situation and to help monitor the monument. CHAP and city agencies are working to have the paint and graffiti removed by an art conservator as quickly as possible.

Read more about the Key Monument

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.
A gothic stone church seen from the roof of a building across the street.

Explore the stories of the people (and landmarks) from Baltimore’s Civil Rights movement Please share your comments on the first draft of our local Civil Rights heritage study

Earlier this summer, we completed the first draft of our context study on Baltimore’s Civil Rights heritage. We’ve been working on this project for two years, together with the Maryland Historical Trust and Baltimore National Heritage Area, with funding from the National Park Service, Preservation Maryland, and PNC Foundation. The completed draft covers nearly 150 years of history, politics, activism, and change from 1831 to 1976. This fall, we’re asking you to take a look and share your reactions, comments, and suggestions!

At the beginning of the project in 2015, we created a website where we could share all of our research materials and writing online. By making our research accessible online to students, educators, historians, and activists, we hope to encourage more people to learn about the history of the Civil Rights movement in Baltimore and to preserve the historic places that help tell stories from the movement. We’re using a Creative Commons license for all of our writing and using GitHub (a popular platform for open source projects) to publish the website. Our goal is to make it easier to people to reuse or help improve the resources we’re making for this project.

A black man in uniform and a black woman wearing a dress and bonnet sitting for a portrait with their two daughters on each side.
Unidentified African American soldier in Union uniform with wife and two daughters, c. 1863-1865. Library of Congress.

Where can you find the context study? You can read all six sections of the context study on our website beginning with the overview or you can download a PDF that compiles all six sections into a single document. But you can also browse a map and database of over 350 related sites, buildings, and landscapes we’ve identified during our research. We put together a new tour on Explore Baltimore Heritage, that you can use to find and see a few of these places for yourself. Finally, our timeline of events is an easy way to learn how local events responded to events affecting the Civil Rights movement in Maryland and the United States.

We welcome your comments on anything big or small. Did our study miss an important place or person? Do you think we have part of the history wrong? Did we cover the most relevant themes for each period? You can send us your comments by email to info@baltimoreheritage.org or by using our project feedback form. We also have a separate form if you want to suggest adding a place to our inventory.

A crowd of African American people looking towards a stage set up in front of a large modern office building.
Charles Plaza during the first Afro-American (AFRAM) Exposition, August 7-8, 1976. Special Collections, Langsdale Library, University of Baltimore, rbcae76n0705 (CC BY-NC-ND).