Category: Preservation

Help Us Protect Historic Woodberry

We at Baltimore Heritage are pleased to be helping neighbors in the Woodberry community protect this wonderful 19th century mill town and we are asking for your help. The neighborhood is on the cusp of being designated an official local historic district and one of its signature historic buildings, the Tractor Building of the former Pool and Hunt Foundry and Machine Works, is in line to become a designated city landmark.

Both efforts need public support to get the green light from the Mayor and City Council. Please help us by sending an email to the local councilman, Leon Pinkett, thanking him for his past support for Woodberry and urging him to do all he can in the weeks ahead. The historic mills, workers houses, general store, and other buildings are a treasure for all of Baltimore (we believe for all of Maryland and beyond), and even if you are not in Councilman Pinkett’s district (Council District 7), contacting him will help.

Thank you for helping protect historic Woodberry!

The Northampton Furnace Archaeology Project: An Update from One of Our Micro-Grant Recipients

At our annual preservation micro-grant event in October, Baltimore Heritage gave archaeologist Adam Fracchia $250 to help with his archaeological exploration of the lives of enslaved people and convict labor at the ruins of the former Northampton furnace iron foundry (near Hampton Mansion). The project has already yielded many fascinating results! Please enjoy our guest blog post by Dr. Fracchia (fracchia@umd.edu) below. 

Students began excavating in the early fall of 2019.

In December of 2019, the first season of the Northampton Furnace Archaeology Project came to a successful conclusion. The Project’s goals were to better understand and document the lives of the convicts, indentured servants, and the enslaved peoples forced to work at the iron furnace operated by the Ridgley family from 1762 to the late 1820s. The iron furnace, which produced pig iron and cast iron including cannons and shot used in the Revolutionary War, generated the Ridgley’s great wealth and supported their lavish lifestyle.

The archaeological field school operated through the University of Delaware, Newark, sought to find material evidence of their lives that would add these workers to the history and narrative of the Hampton plantation. Starting in August, the students and I began a field survey of the furnace landscape. They documented and mapped different features on this industrial landscape such as the earthen dam, quarries, the furnace, outbuildings, and structures.

The remains of the earthen dam used to channel water to the water driven furnace bellows.

Through the excavation of shovel test pits, the students surveyed a large area where workers were believed to have lived. Five test units were also excavated around the remains of a structure that may have dated to the period of the furnace. The students were able to document these structures below the surface and map and describe the different soil strata that detail the history of the site. Some artifacts were found dating to the furnace period. Evidence was also found of the farm that post-dated the furnace and was in operation until the flooding and creation of the Loch Raven Reservoir in the early twentieth century.

The students presented their preliminary findings to the public at Hampton NHS in December and the analysis of the archaeological data is currently ongoing. Much of the landscape of the furnace is buried or hidden under the later farm or is more ephemeral. The Project seeks an external contractor to conduct a higher resolution LIDAR scan of the core furnace area. This detailed scan of the elevation would allow us to better locate structures, such as the log houses, where the workers may have been living. This project is just the beginning of an effort to detail the lives of the workers at the furnace. We sincerely thank Baltimore Heritage for their support and encouragement with this project.

A mix of iron handwrought and cut nails.
A mix of fragments of 18th and 19th-century ceramics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information, check out the project’s blog

Call for 2020 Preservation Award Nominations

We are happy to share that Baltimore Heritage has begun accepting nominations for our 2020 Preservation Awards. Please send us a nomination and help us celebrate award-worthy work, from rehabbing buildings to volunteering as a tour guide or on an archeology dig. Nominations are due February 21 and self nominations are encouraged. 

Our awards recognize preservation work of all kinds. Our Heritage Achievement Awards honor people who have made a contribution to Baltimore’s historic buildings and neighborhoods, including authors, advocates, community organizers, and neighbors who volunteer their time and talents.

Our Preservation Project Awards honor owners, architects, contractors, and craftspeople who have completed bricks-and-mortar projects, from restoring a historic rowhouse to creating new spaces in a former brewery or factory. We know that preservation work comes in all sizes and often requires a whole team of people, and we seek to recognize everybody who makes a rehab project happen. 

Please take a look at our award categories and guidelines or go ahead and submit a nomination for a project award or achievement award today. We try to keep the process quick and easy, but if you run into trouble, please give Johns Hopkins a call at 410-332-9992 or send him an email at hopkins@baltimoreheritage.org.

Thank you for helping us recognize Baltimore’s heritage stewards. Stay tuned for details on our annual awards celebration this spring! 

The Proposed Woodberry Local Historic District: Thoughts on the Latest CHAP Hearing

For the background of this story, please see our older Woodberry demolition post. Below, we hope you enjoy our guest blog post by the chair of one of Baltimore Heritage’s partner organizations, Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance, and member of the Woodberry Community Association, Nathan Dennies. 

On December 10, I joined dozens of supporters at the second Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) hearing for the Woodberry Local Historic District. The hearing was a crucial step toward making the local historic district a reality, a move that will provide stronger preservation oversight and give the community more say about its future. I was there as a Woodberry resident and representative of the Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance, the community’s historic preservation organization and a partner of Baltimore Heritage. Joining me were dedicated members of the Woodberry Community Association, and allies at Baltimore Heritage, Preservation Maryland, and the Friends of The Jones Falls.

Overwhelming support led CHAP commissioners to unanimously recommend the Woodberry Local Historic District be introduced as a bill to City Council. The victory was the result of months of community organizing. The hardest part is yet to come.

After the Woodberry Local Historic District is introduced to City Council, a third public hearing will be held by the Baltimore City Planning Commission. Our goal is that the local historic district move through with the recommendations CHAP unanimously approved at the December 10 hearing. These recommendations have the overwhelming support of the Woodberry community. They speak to the national historic significance of Woodberry and a future that respects its historic fabric, providing oversight for its factories and the historic homes of its workers.

Thank you to everyone who has shown support by writing letters, sharing with friends and neighbors, and taking the time to attend hearings. We’ll need your support again soon. After the next hearing, we’ll be close to the finish line. Woodberry is to Maryland what Lowell is to Massachusetts. Your support will help to protect this treasure and encourage future development that is mindful of the Woodberry’s meaningful past.

The Arches & Access Project: An Update from One of Our Micro-Grant Recipients

At our annual preservation micro-grant event in October, Baltimore Heritage gave the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council $500 to support its Light City Baltimore community party, Arches and Access, at Druid Hill Park. It was a huge success and absolutely brightened the neighborhood! Please enjoy our guest blog post by co-organizer Graham Coreil-Allen. 

The organizers (left to right): Graham Coreil-Allen, Jessy DeSantis, and Courtney Bettle (Photo by Graham Coreil-Allen) 

Showcasing the cherished connections between Druid Hill Park and surrounding neighborhoods, the Arches & Access project illuminated and activated the historic Druid Hill Park Gate at Madison Avenue, Druid Hill Park, and the Rawlings Conservatory with colorful lights, a community parade, and a public party. On the evening of November 3rd, 2019, over three hundred residents, artists, and performers transformed Madison Avenue and Druid Park Lake Drive into a spectacular, roving block party. Neighbors collectively created a place to march, dance, and perform in celebration of our West Baltimore communities united in green space and creating safe streets for people. The Neighborhood Lights Project was presented as part of the Brilliant Baltimore festival of light and literature and organized by Reservoir Hill residents Jessy DeSantis and Courtney Bettle, and Auchentoroly Terrace public artist Graham Coreil-Allen.

The colorful Rawlings Conservatory (Photo by Graham Coreil-Allen) 

The project was made possible with help from community organizer Kate Jennings and the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, 7th District Councilman Leon F. Pinkett, a grant from Baltimore Heritage, volunteers from Beth Am Synagogue’s IFO organization, and numerous local youth. The Baltimore Heritage Microgrant help fund multicolored flashlights and a free photo booth at the after party.