In June of 2014, we welcomed Mary Alice Butts into the Centennial Homes family. Ms. Butts’ family has lived at 2806 E. Baltimore Street for 112 years.
The first owners, Eugene P. Kavanaugh and Mary Gribbens Kavanaugh, Mary Alice Butts’, grandparents, purchased the house in 1902. The Kavanaugh family’s coppersmith business on Pratt St. and Central Ave. was established in 1866 and the original building is still standing with the name clearly visible on the building’s upper and side edges. The company started as a coppersmiths that designed and built distilling equipment for surrounding distilleries. During WWII, it served as a defense contractor that repaired distilling equipment for alcohol plants. After the war, the company experimented with bending pipes and tubes. Today, relocated in Baltimore County, the company bends iron railings and ornamental metal for consumers and companies, as well as bending steel reinforcement rods used to build bridges.
The Rabassa’s, Mary Alice Butts’ parents, also had a family business called Capitol Radio, and later Capitol Radio & Television, which provided sales and service of radios and televisions for the Baltimore City area from 1925 to 1979. After military service at home and abroad Mary Alice Butts’ first husband, Max Gould, also father of her eight children, worked for and later ran this family business when Albert Rabassa, Mary Alice’s father died.
Three generations of the families at 2806 E. Baltimore St. attended St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary School and four generations attended the church. Albert Rabassa served as head of the Ushers Group for many years at the church.
Mrs. Butts lost her husband Max Gould to cancer when he was only 53. She later remarried Robert L. Butts who died three years later of a heart attack.
Mary Alice attended St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary Church on E. Baltimore St. for her first eight years of school and later attended Mt. St. Agnes High School in Mt. Washington. She attended the Peabody Conservatory and pursued her career as a vocal musician during and after raising her children.
She helped organize fund raising events that drew people from across counties to raise enough money to prevent a major highway from running through neighboring Fells Point. She also served as a Vice President of the Baltimore-Linwood Neighborhood Association and as Project Coordinator for the Banner Neighborhoods. She was very involved in promoting the Banner Neighborhood House Tours which received a great deal of publicity and raised a lot of money for the organization. She later worked for the Bureau of Parks and Recreations as a Project Coordinator.
Mary Alice has always loved living in the Patterson Park Neighborhood, as she is quoted saying, “ I never felt that I lived in the city because I never faced houses, we faced the park.”