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Explore Hampden History: Self-Guided Walking Tour of Hampden-Woodberry

Overview

In the fall of 2015, the Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance in partnership with Baltimore Heritage published a comprehensive walking tour brochure for Baltimore’s Hampden and Woodberry neighborhoods. Local historian Nathan Dennies volunteered to research and write and graphic designer Paula Bogert created the design.

Location

Hampden, Baltimore, MD

Project Team

  • Nathan Dennies
  • Paula Bogert

Partners

Funding

Donors who supported this project include:

  • Denny Lynch Photography
  • Edye Sanford’s Designs from the Edge
  • Falkenhan’s Hardware
  • Fleckenstein Gallery & Archival Framing
  • Hampden Village Merchant’s Association
  • Mary Pat Clarke
  • Meadow Mill Athletic Club
  • Paradiso
  • Terra Nova Ventures
  • Trohv
  • The Turnover Shop


This self-guided tour brochure for Hampden and Woodberry is available at shops along the Avenue including Trohv, Sprout, Sixteen Tons, Hampden Junque, Choux Cafe, Zensations, and Bazaar. Read on for stories from the tour below and on Explore Baltimore Heritage.

Hidden in this thriving neighborhood is a notably intact 19th-century urban mill village. Hampden’s history is closely linked to nearby Woodberry, just west of the Jones Falls and former home to a booming textile industry that flourished from the early 1800s into the early 20th century, when mills here manufactured most of the world’s cotton duck, or sailcloth. As the mills prospered, the area grew from a loose collection of villages into a bustling community—a forerunner to the renewed Hampden of today: one of Baltimore’s most popular destinations, notable for great dining, shopping, services and just plain living. And lately, a great place to take a hike!

Clipper Passage

This three-mile walk takes you to the beginnings of Hampden-Woodberry industry. Witness the integrity of a mill village still very much connected to its industrial past.

Woodberry Mill and Duplexes
3700 Clipper Road
As early as 1790, this former flour mill was owned by Elisha Tyson, abolitionist and self-made millionaire. When purchased in 1842 by industrialists David Carroll and Horatio Gambrill, it was converted into a steam-powered mill for production of cotton duck, fabric used for ship sails. From the 1920s until it closed in the 1970s, it was a Schenuit tire factory. The distinct stone duplexes nearby—homes for Woodberry Mill workers—were built in the 1840s.

Woodberry Methodist Church
2000 Druid Park Drive

The original church on this site dated back to the 1840s, when many mill workers attended massive revivalist tent meetings in the area. Today’s church, built in 1870, nearly burnt down in a 1987 fire started by an arsonist.

Park Mill
1750 Union Avenue

Park Mill was another Gambrill and Carroll venture, built to manufacture seine netting used for fishing. Following World War I, the building was sold to Bes-Cone and converted into an ice cream cone factory. The Commercial Envelope Company bought the site and operated here until 1972.

Poole and Hunt Machine Works
2000 Clipper Park Road

industrialist Robert Poole’s machine works manufactured train components, and later, parts for WWI weapons. In 1888, 700 men worked here, making it in its time the largest employer of iron workers in Baltimore. Columns for the U.S. Capitol building were cast here—a proud contribution to one of America’s most iconic landmarks.

Brick Hill
3400 Seneca Street

Brick Hill, developed in the 1880s overlooking Meadow Mill, was once home to families employed by the mills. It is bounded on the west by Druid Hill Park.

Meadow Mill
3600 Clipper Mill Road

Built in 1877 at the height of the area’s textile industry, Meadow Mill and others nearby controlled production of most of the world’s cotton duck. It closed in 1961 and shortly thereafter was converted to a raincoat factory
operated by London Fog.

The Bloody Bucket
1600 Union Avenue

It used to be that bars weren’t allowed within one mile of the mills. The Bloody Bucket is right across the street from one. Owned and managed by a part-time boxing promoter, it got its name from the brawls held there during the 1950s-60s. Today, it is a much friendlier neighborhood bar.

Druid Mill
1500 Union Avenue

Called Union Mill today, Druid Mill was built between 1865 and 1872. It was the first mill in the area to feature a clock tower, clearly visible to the workers living in Druidville, which was located across Union Avenue.

Clipper Mill
3400 Clipper Mill Road

As early as the late 1700s, this building was the Whitehall Flouring Mill. By 1839 it had been converted into a textile mill, and after a fire in 1854, it was rebuilt and renamed Clipper Mill. It later became the Sekine Brush Company. Single women working at the mills lived at nearby Hooper Hotel—also called “Mill Girl Hotel”—a boarding house once located at Clipper Mill Road and Ash Street.

Stone Hill Passage

This one-mile walk takes you through Stone Hill, one of the most intact urban mill villages in the United States.

Mount Vernon Mill No.1
3000 Falls Road

In 1899, Mount Vernon Company merged with 14 mills to create the Mount Vernon-Woodberry Cotton Duck Company, the world’s supplier of cotton duck. At its heart was Mill No.1. Though its closing in 1973 marked the end of the area’s textile industry, it was recently renovated and turned into a mixed-use residential and commercial building.

Hampden Falls
Off Falls Road / beneath the bridge at Wyman Park Drive – the path is in disrepair—proceed with caution.

Hampden Falls, today known as Round Falls, was once part of a dam servicing Rock Mill. Completed in the early 1800s and rebuilt several times, it became a popular subject for local artists. The mill was razed in 1930 by Baltimore City for flood control. In 2001, Baltimore-area developers Bill Struever and Ted Rouse led efforts to build a stairway and platform from which to view the falls.

Stieff Silver Buiding
800 Wyman Park Drive

A 1967 ad in the Baltimore Sun for Steiff engagement rings reads, “You will always remember the Stieff Days.” Indeed, it’s hard to forget Stieff Silver when passing by the iconic building with the sign bearing its name. Completed in 1924, the factory produced a wide range of luxury silver and pewter products — hollow-ware, tableware, and jewelry. It closed in 1999 after the company was sold to Lenox. It has since been renovated into a mixed-use commercial property and is home to the Parks and People Foundation.

Elisha Tyson Summer Home
732 Pacific Street

Located in the historic mill village Stone Hill, this was one of abolitionist Elisha Tyson’s early 1800s homes. Tyson helped fund the Jones Falls Turnpike, speculated to have been part of the Underground Railroad. The route, now Falls Road, followed a Native American trail.

Mount Vernon Mill No. 2
3000 Chestnut Avenue

Called the mill centre today, Mount Vernon Mills by the 1880s employed as many as 1,600 workers. In 1923 a devastating strike prompted owners to begin selling property here to move operations south. When the newly renovated Mill Centre opened in the 1980s, it became one of the first adaptive-reuse mill conversions in the area.

Crittenton Mansion
3110 Crittenton Place

originally the estate of David Carroll, this mansion loomed over the mills and residences at Stone Mill. In 1925, it became the Florence Crittenton Home, a sanctuary for unwed mothers. It was closed in 2010, and today the property is slated to become the site of apartments and townhomes.

Maple Hill Passage

Industrialist Robert Poole’s estate once covered a large portion of this half-mile tour. His grand Gilded Age mansion dominated the view from the machine works he owned in Woodberry.

Evergreen on the Falls
3300 Falls Road

Also known as the Snyder-Carroll House, this Victorian Italianate style mansion was home to Mount Vernon Mills supervisor Albert H. Carroll. It was built around 1860. The mansion was sold to the SPCA in 1926.

Hampden United Methodist Church
3449 Falls Road

This church is a legendary Hampden fixture. By 1917, the men’s Bible class alone had about 400 members. The church dates its history back to 1867, the time of the great revivalist tent meetings.

Roosevelt Park
1200 W. 36th Street

Known as West Park in the late 1800s, much of this land was once under water, the site of Baltimore’s Hampden Reservoir. The recreation center has been in operation since 1911. The former pump house for the reservoir has been re-purposed by nearby Maryland SPCA as its spay-neuter clinic.

Robert Poole Middle School
1300 W. 36th Street

Opened in 1923, the school was built on the site of Robert Poole’s 1869 estate (top, previous page). The estate included a Victorian mansion on top of a hill with a lush, sprawling garden along a winding road.

Odd Fellows Hall
3618 Falls Road

Hampden’s Odd Fellows Hall once featured a bowling alley on the second floor. Founded in 1819 by Thomas Wildey, Baltimore’s Independent Order of Odd Fellows was the first of it’s kind in North America. The building is currently home to Atomic Books.

Enoch Pratt Free Library Hampden Branch
3641 Falls Road

In this building In 1885, Robert Poole established a circulating library for Hampden. It shared the facility with Providence Savings Bank until 1915. The outside columns were made by Poole and Hunt Machine Works, which also cast the columns for the dome of the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Hampden Presbyterian Church
3647-3649 Falls Road

Constructed in 1875 and built of marble quarried in Baltimore County, the first floor housed a Sunday school and the second floor, a sanctuary. By the mid-1970s it served briefly as a community center complete with an indoor basketball court in the sanctuary. It then became a clinic, and in the 1980’s, offices, before being converted into a retail space and loft.

The Avenue Passage

Many visitors would point to this half-mile stretch of 36th Street as the source of Hampden’s small-town charm. Have you ever wondered what it was like here 100 years ago?

Grace-Hampden Methodist Church
1000 W. 36th Street

Built in 1899, this example of Romanesque Revival ecclesiastical architecture was constructed with local stone. When it opened, its congregation included 315 adults and 449 children.

Zissimos Bar
1023 W. 36th Street

Established in the 1930s, Zissimos Bar is one of the oldest businesses on the Avenue. Comedian Lou Costello was related to the Zissimos family and would stop in while passing through Baltimore. He was known to tap dance on the bar and hand out autographed one-dollar bills to children.

Hampden Hall
999 W. 36th Street

Established in 1882, Hampden Hall was first a meeting-house for Civil War veterans and later became a “town hall” for residents. In 1913, Theodore Cavacos, owner of the once-prominent Cavacos drug store, bought the building and added street-level shops. Later redevelopment added apartments to the building’s upper levels.

Hampden and Ideal Theaters
900 W. 36th Street

For many decades “the Avenue” boasted two movie theaters—The Hampden and The Ideal. Opened between 1908 and 1911, both closed in the mid-1970s. Since then, tenants have included the Salvation Army, restaurants, an auction house and antique mart, a yoga studio, and a small shopping mall. Movies were not the only form of entertainment on 36th Street—remnants of a bowling alley still exist across the street beneath what is today David’s on the Avenue.

Northern District Police Station
3355 Keswick Road

At the time of its closing, this police station was the only Victorian-era one of its kind still in operation in Baltimore. It opened in the 1880s and served the area for 100 years. Remnants of the past—its stable and carriage house—are still intact.

Schwing Motor Company Building
3326 Keswick Road

Once Hampden’s luxury car showroom, this Art Deco gem was erected in 1930 and in operation for 68 years. Its owner Vincent Schwing was a record-holding boat racer and also active in the community. In 1987, he funded development of the playground at 3416 Elm Avenue.

World War II Memorial
3200 Keswick Road

Dedicated in 1945, this memorial commemorates Hampden’s World War II veterans, the “600 boys and girls from this neighborhood who served their country during this time of conflict.” For many years following the war, parades were held honoring those who served.

Roland Passage

This half-mile walk covers the churches and sights of north Hampden. It ends at the iconic Rotunda, which today is a site of massive redevelopment.

Hampden Baptist Church
3645 Roland Avenue

Tracing its origins to revivalist tent meetings in the area, Hampden’s first Baptist church—opened in 1847 on the grounds of present-day Roosevelt Park—was moved to this location in 1899 when the original structure fell into decline. The old property was purchased by Baltimore City to make way for Hampden Reservoir, which was years later drained and filled to restore the park.

St. Thomas Aquinas School
3700 Roland Avenue

Opened in 1873, the school was originally publicly funded by Baltimore County as an institution for Catholic religious instruction in a largely Protestant neighborhood. The current school building was built in 1937.

United Brethren Church
3800 Roland Avenue

The cornerstone of the Sweet Air Chapel at United Brethren was laid in 1872. David H. Carroll, owner of Mount-Vernon Mills, helped to conduct the dedication of this splendid Gothic church during a time when mill owners provided the infrastructure for large parts of the neighborhood.

Shelley House
3849 Roland Avenue

Built between 1905 and 1906, and once home and office to Dr. Albert Shelley, this building is the oldest recorded concrete house in Baltimore City. Shelly’s choice of concrete—possibly influenced by a 1903 trip to England where advocates of the Arts and Crafts style promoted the material for domestic use —was reinforced by seeing firsthand the damage caused by Baltimore’s Great Fire in 1904.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Cemetery
3900 Roland Avenue

Like the Hampden Baptist Church, the original St. Mary’s Church was bought and torn down by the city to make way for the Hampden Reservoir. The current structure was built in 1873 after the previous church on the site burned down. Today, the church serves as St. Mary’s Outreach Center.

The Rotunda
711 W. 40th Street

Once the home base of the Maryland Casualty Company, the Rotunda set the example for future suburban business sites and helped rein in an era of pastoral capitalism. The insurance company’s campus—built on what was formerly a farm—featured tennis courts, a greenhouse and orchards, a clubhouse, and even a large koi pond.