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Baltimore Heritage Awards Four Micro Grants for Four Great Ideas Winners Selected at Preservation Pitch Party

A gathering of people at the newly opened Baltimore Immigration Museum awarded four micro-grants for four great preservation ideas at Baltimore Heritage’s 2016 Preservation Pitch Party.  Supporters of the projects got three minutes each to pitch their project and then the crowd determined the recipients of the awards.

Making tough choices from the eight ideas that were presented, the following ideas received funding. As an indication of how compelling the projects were and how narrow the vote was, only four votes separated the winning projects.

  • $500 for the Baltimore Immigration Museum to repair the brickwork around the front door and prevent water from coming in.
  • $500 for the Herring Run Archaeology Project to continue their archaeology efforts in 2017. The group works in Northeast Baltimore identifying and excavating previously unknown archaeological sites in Baltimore’s Herring Run Park with neighbors and community schools.
  • $250 for the Market Center Merchant’s Association to bring Baltimore City public school kids who participate in the Maryland History Day competition to the Market Center Area for a tour of Civil Rights heritage sites. This year’s History Day topic is “Taking a Stand in History.”
  • $250 for Taylor’s Chapel for a project to stabilize frescoes in this 1850s church that likely were painted by Constantino Brumidi, the fresco artist in the U.S. Capitol building.

We’ll be following these projects with updates, event announcements, and calls for volunteers as they unfold this winter and spring. Stay tuned!

We need your voice at the Preservation Pitch Party! Help select projects to receive preservation mini-grants

Baltimore is full of compelling historic sites, buildings, and neighborhoods each with dedicated people working hard for their preservation. To support these people and their projects, Baltimore Heritage will distribute four small grants during a “we the people” Preservation Pitch Party. Supporters of eight preservation projects around Baltimore City will get three minutes to pitch their project and at the end, the crowd will decide which ideas to award. We hope you can join us to contribute your vote!

Last month we asked for preservation groups to submit ideas for projects to fund. We whittled the excellent submissions own to a final group of eight. Of those eight proposals, two $500 grants and two $250 grants will be distributed at the pitch party. Below is list of the eight finalists:

  • Baltimore Immigration Museum is seeking funds for work that needs to be done on their building, including the partial re-pointing and repair of the brick facade around the entry door in order to prevent future water infiltration into the structure.
  • Friends of St. Vincent Cemetery in Clifton Park seeks funds to pay for weed and brush removal tools, wheelbarrows, and work gloves to assist with their work cleaning and restoring this abandoned but no longer forgotten 5.3 acre cemetery.
  • The Herring Run Archaeology Project is looking for funds to continue their work in 2017. The group works in Northeast Baltimore identifying and excavating previously unknown archaeological sites in Baltimore’s Herring Run Park with neighbors and community schools.
  • Irish Railroad Workers Museum requests funds to help promote and increase an audience for their “Second and Fourth Saturdays Presentations” for 2017.
  • Taylor’s Chapel asks for money to restore historic frescos believed to be painted by Constantino Brumidi, who painted the frescoes in the US Capitol building.
  • Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park is looking to fund an independent assessment from expert consultants to determine the feasibility of the stabilization or restoration of two historic field stone structures (ca.1858) in Winans Meadow in Leakin Park.
  • G. Krug & Son Ironworks Museum seeks funds to help market their 2016 Holidays at Krug, an annual winter event that allows the public to experience the entirety of the 206-year old blacksmith shop.
  • The Market Center Merchants Association wants funding for the Market Center History Day Celebration to bring students in for a tour and discussion of historic sites in around Lexington Market.

The pitch party takes place on Friday, October 21, 2016 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at the Baltimore Immigration Museum, immediately after the conclusion of Baltimore Heritage’s 2016 Bmore Historic Conference. Please join us and cast your vote and hear about great preservation ideas in Baltimore. The pitch party is free and will include a wine and cheese reception. Space is limited to 75. Reserve your seat at the pitch party today!

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

Storefront Improvement Grant Program Kicks Off

In July, we joined our nonprofit partners the Neighborhood Design Center and AIA Baltimore to kick off a new program through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to rehab and improve commercial storefronts that were damaged during the civil unrest in Baltimore last April. The program, called the Storefront Improvement Grant Program, is providing $650,000 to fix storefronts along main streets from Pennsylvania Avenue in Sandtown Winchester to Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown.

From a pool of 145 applications, 26 projects were selected to receive funds. Each business will get up to $10,000 for improvements, as well as an architect volunteering through the American Institute of Architects Baltimore Chapter. After working out a design with the owner and architect, youth training teams from Civic Works and Living Classrooms will do the actual construction. We at Baltimore Heritage are helping by providing assistance on meeting historic preservation standards to ensure the redesigned storefront helps the owner and the surrounding neighborhood.

In addition to Sandtown Winchester and Highlandtown, the following other neighborhoods are slated to have storefront improvement projects: Pigtown, Waverly, Park Heights, Hollins Market/Union Square, and Market Center/Downtown. With project design work beginning this month, construction for the first set of storefronts is expected in the early fall.

Baltimore City considering plans to tear down the back of the Mayfair Theatre BDC seeks to preserve the facade and redevelop the site

In mid June, Baltimore City posted a emergency condemnation and demolition notice on the front of the Mayfair Theater at 506 North Howard Street. The city, which owns the ornately-detailed 1903 building, is considering a plan to tear down the back portion of the theater where the auditorium was located and retain the front facade and front house. In 1998, the auditorium roof collapsed into the basement and the back portion of the building has remained unsecured and exposed to the elements for nearly two decades since. In contrast, the Mayfair’s front house is about thirty-five feet deep and city engineers have concluded that its roof is tight and it is structurally solid.

Demolition of the Franklin Delphy Hotel. Courtesy Peter Smith, May 19, 2016.
Demolition of the Franklin Delphy Hotel. Courtesy Peter Smith, May 19, 2016.

The city’s planning follows the 2014 fire at the building and the demolition of the adjoining Franklin Delphy Hotel in May. The hotel, which stood immediately to the south of the Mayfair, shared a party wall with the theater. Although city planners hoped to stabilize the theater as part of the hotel demolition, inspectors deemed the Franklin Delphy so deteriorated that the building had to come down immediately before any additional work took place.

After the demolition of the Franklin Delphy, the city’s engineers re-assessed the Mayfair. With no beams or joists supporting the side and back walls (these elements were lost along with the roof in the 1990s), they determined that the back portion is structurally unsound and poses a safety hazard.

When the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), which oversees this project along with many others in the Howard Street corridor, informed Baltimore Heritage about the status of the Mayfair Theatre we raised the concern that taking down the back of the building could jeopardize the possibility of using historic tax credits to rehabilitate any part of the building in the future. According to federal and state regulations, buildings must retain a significant portion of their historic material to be eligible for historic tax credits. Unfortunately, the theater has already lost so much material with the collapse of the auditorium roof and subsequent exposure that the tax credit team at the Maryland Historical Trust indicated that it the building is likely ineligible for tax credits even with the side and back walls still in place.

Photograph by John Benneman, December 31, 2010. Courtesy Cinema Treasures (CC-BY).
Interior photograph by John Benneman, December 31, 2010. Courtesy Cinema Treasures (CC-BY).

The Mayfair is listed as a city landmark, and thus any demolition work must be coordinated with the Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. As for redevelopment, BDC has suggested that they will begin the process to find an interested developer. The parcel for the Mayfair will include the front house, which must be retained, and, if demolition moves forward, the cleared lot behind it where the auditorium once was. Right now it is not clear whether the Mayfair lot will be coupled with the now empty Franklin Delphy parcel or offered separately. While this is disappointing news, if not surprising given its decades of neglect, we hope that the redevelopment of the site can save the facade and front house.

Volunteer to help in the lab for the Herring Run Archaeology Project Sign up to process artifacts from July 9 to August 13

The Herring Run Park Archaeology Project saw some exciting finds in the field this spring. But archaeologists Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer will tell you that archaeology isn’t just about what you find, it’s what you find out! Please join the project’s new volunteer lab manager Karen Hutchins-Keim and student intern Lily Roze Annenberg this summer as we clean and process the artifacts recovered during our archaeological dig this past spring. Go ahead and sign up today!

You do not need any previous experience to participate. High school-aged volunteers are welcome. Working in the lab is a great way to learn how archaeologists identify and analyze artifacts whether they are broken pieces of brick or delicate shards of pottery.

Lab work is scheduled for Saturday afternoons, 12:00pm to 3:00pm, between July 9 and August 13 at the Natural History Society of Maryland at 6908 Belair Road, Baltimore, MD 21206. Space for volunteers is currently limited to five people on each date so sign up soon with your interest.

You can also support the project by making a donation online to help cover the costs of the materials we use to conserve the artifacts. Finally, you can learn more about the dig with series of “Field Notes from Herring Run” that Lisa and Jason shared this past spring.

Artifacts from the Herring Run Archaeology Project, 2016 April 26.
Artifacts from the Herring Run Archaeology Project, 2016 April 26.